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Cisco Readies Multiprotocol Switch

CHICAGO -- Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) beefed up its SAN extension capabilities today by rolling out a new multiprotocol switch, IP services card and management software at Storage Decisions.

As reported in Byte and Switch Friday, Cisco announced its MDS 9216i switch to take better advantage of the new multiprotocol services. The 9216i and the new MDS Multiprotocol Services Module have 14 2-Gbit/s Fibre Channel ports and two Gigabit Ethernet ports. Users can configure the GigE ports to support Fibre Channel over Internet Protocol (FCIP) or iSCSI.

Cisco's SAN-OS 2.0 software includes support for hardware-based compression and IPSec encryption, extended FC buffer credits, and FCIP tape accleration.

The three products together are designed to improve Cisco's SAN extension performance. The card is the first from Cisco that integrates FC, FCIP, and iSCSI. Cisco's previous IP cards inlcude either four or eight GigE ports and no FC ports. Ed Chapman, Cisco's senior director of product mangement for the MDS 9200, says the four- and eight-port cards are still available, but the new modules offer greater flexibility and better compression.

"A lot of users didn't need that many GigE ports," Chapman says. "And we used software compression, which isn't as good at high speeds as the hardware compression."

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