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John Kelley, President, CEO & Chairman, McData Corp.

If McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA), like other SAN switchmarkers, has been on a wild ride this past year, its CEO, John Kelley, has adopted the swagger of a rodeo cowboy.

Kelley says the difficult market that's materialized since networking giant Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) entered the storage director segment 18 months ago has strengthened his company.

But he can't hide the fact that it's been a tough go. Cisco's entry has affected McData more than rival Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), because McData holds market share dominance over the high-end SAN switch segment that Cisco wants. And Cisco has pursued its goal through a price-chopping battle that hasn't let up.

Besides feeling the sting of those particular arrows, McData has seen its relationship with its former parent EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) change; it hit a few tough quarters last year; and it suffered the layoff of 9 percent of its workforce in January. (See McData Maudlin Over Price Pressure), EMC Playing Hardball With McData?, and McData McDownsized.)

Through it all, McData's taken the offensive, buying switch companies Nishan Systems and Sanera Systems and investing in Aarohi Inc. to beef up its technology offerings. (See McData Sweeps Up Nishan, Sanera and McData Signs Deal With Aarohi.)

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