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Survey: Size Doesn't Matter

Large vendors looking to move into the storage networking arena should learn a lesson from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO): Bang on the door loudly, or hardly anybody will even know you're out there.

The Fall 2003 Storage Networking Market Perception Study from Heavy Reading, the market research division of Light Reading, this publication's parent company – demonstrates that startups can make their way in the market fairly quickly (see Storage Networking Open to Small Fry). But the same report shows that established vendors looking to cross into storage networking have struggled to gain recognition in the market.

The exception seems to be Cisco, which was identified by potential customers as an established SAN vendor, though it is a relative newcomer in the space (see Cisco Still a Kid in Storage).

Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN), Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) (NYSE: CA), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) have yet to establish recognition as leading SAN and NAS vendors, despite their well-known brands in other markets. For instance, fewer than 60 percent of respondents in the SAN software categories identified CA as a key supplier, and less than half of all respondents familiar with SAN extension equipment named Lucent.

Buyers know Cisco because it burst into the market with great fanfare. It poured millions into Andiamo Systems for research and development, before purchasing the switch maker in August 2002 (see Cisco Buys Andiamo). It made no secret of its plans to take on Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) and McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA) in the Fibre Channel switch market, and CEO John Chambers has enough confidence in storage to declare that it will become a $1 billion market for Cisco (see Storage: A Cisco Billion Dollar Play).

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