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Cisco's SAN Blast

PALM DESERT, Calif. -- It's all about IP and gigabit Ethernet. That was Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) mantra as it detailed its anticipated charge into the storage area networking (SAN) market, unveiling its strategy and introducing its first SAN product.

As reported first at Light Reading, Cisco has been preparing its first product and its assault on the SAN market for many months. It has made strategic acquisitions and funded startups in the area (see Ciscos Secret SAN Strategies Revealed). In fact, the general manager of Cisco's new Storage Router Business Unit, Mark Cree, is the former founder of NuSpeed, a startup Cisco acquired for roughly $450 million in July of 2000.

Officially announced here today, Cisco's first product is a two-port IP router, the SN 5420, designed to connect IP networks and Fibre Channel networks. Based on the emerging iSCSI (Small Computer Systems Interface over IP) protocol, the SN 5420 storage router has one Fibre Channel port and one gigabit Ethernet port, along with several management interfaces.

The idea is to ease storage networks onto IP networks, which could offer a lower-cost storage networking option over wider areas.

"We'll use IP to bring Cisco into the storage networking fold," says Cree, who adds that the end-goal of Cisco's intiative is to connect more SANs to Ethernet networks, and "drive the sale of more Ethernet ports. After all, what we want to do is sell more Catalyst switches."