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HP Next to Green-Light Cisco?

NEW YORK -- Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) is close to completing the qualification of Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) MDS 9000 series of Fibre Channel switches, an HP executive said today at the RBC Capital Markets conference here.

Michael Feinberg, CTO of HP's network storage division, said the company currently has the Cisco switches in its labs and will start offering it to customers "in the market timeframe."

That would appear to mean that HP intends to start reselling the MDS 9000 line by the end of March 2003. This week IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) was the first company to officially announce a reseller agreement with Cisco for its first Fibre Channel switches. IBM said it expects to finish testing the gear and to start shipping it to customers by the end of the first quarter (see IBM Tells Cisco: 'Let's Go!').

"People will not have to go elsewhere" to buy Cisco's SAN switches, Feinberg said. "It will not be surprising to see us offer that to our customers." [Ed. note: Do you think he wasn't unintentionally obfuscating his syntax?]

Having HP on board as a reseller will put Cisco halfway to its goal of lining up the four major storage vendors, the other three of which are IBM, EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS). Cisco executives say they expect to have lined up reseller deals with each of those vendors by the end of the first calendar quarter of 2003.

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