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CNT Stakes Claim on New Director

Computer Network Technology Corp. (CNT) (Nasdaq: CMNT) unveiled its new director switch product today, putting rivals on notice that it's not content to take a back seat in this ultracompetitive market.

The UltraNet Multi-service Director (UMD) series represents CNT's integration of the switches it acquired through its $190 million purchase of Inrange Technologies in April 2003 (see CNT Delivers New Director and CNT Walks Off With Inrange).

The first in the series, the Model 16, is set to ship by the end of August, featuring 256 non-blocking ports of Fibre Channel and/or Ficon traffic in a chassis-based system meant to house a range of add-on modules. In 2005, for instance, CNT says it will offer blades for 4- and 10-Gbit/s connectivity, Gigabit Ethernet, SAN extension, and quality-of-service control. Also next year, CNT plans to round out its series with lower-end switches as well as a higher-end 512-port UMD.

CNT doesn't yet have its new UMD platform certified by SAN vendors, though it claims to be working on that. And one source says IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) should announce certification within a week.

So where's the beef here? The news isn't really CNT's 256-port switch, which Inrange previously offered. But the vendor says increased demand for scaleability, plus the addition of new features, put the UMD in a nice position relative to contenders Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA), which have their own bigger directors due later this year (see VP Details McData Software Makeover and Brocade Dazzler Starts Low).

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