Cisco 4-Gbit Director MIA

4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel director not expected before March

January 13, 2006

3 Min Read
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Brocades lead with 4-Gbit/s directors will last a few months longer than anticipated.

Several industry sources say Cisco planned to bring out its MDS 9513 director with 4-Gbit/s blades next week, but now has pushed it back until April or later. Further, there's been speculation that Cisco has been having trouble getting the director qualified by its OEM partners, particularly EMC, but an EMC spokeswoman says the storage vendor hasn’t even received the product to begin qualification.

It’s hotly debated how much an advantage 4-Gbit/s switches are at this point because there are only a handful of 4-Gbit/s arrays shipping, but Brocade has had the market to itself on directors since bringing out its SilkWorm 48000 last August. (See Brocade Delivers Director .)

“We were expecting the announcement of the MDS 9513 on Jan. 17, but now we expect Cisco to introduce the MDS 9513 around the April/May timeframe,” Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Kaushik Roy wrote in a research note this week. “We believe the announcement is now more likely to coincide with the product's qualification by major [OEM] vendors.”

A consultant who follows the switching space closely concurs: “I did hear that qualifications on Cisco's 4-Gig director have slipped to March or April.”Brocade has been shipping 4-Gbit/s switches since August of 2004. (See HDS Resells Brocade and IBM Ships Brocade 4-Gig Switches.) Its other major switch rival, McData, began shipping a 4-Gbit/s switch in September, and expects 4-Gbit/s i10K and Intrepid 6140 directors in the first half of the year. That probably means May or June, considering McData is still waiting for EMC to qualify its 2-Gbit/s i10K that it launched a year ago. (See McData's Mixed Bag and McData's Qualification Quagmire.)

Perhaps because it has lagged Brocade on this front, Cisco has been quiet on 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel gear. It was the last of the major vendors to bring out 4-Gbit/s switches, and only through an OEM deal with QLogic. When those switches were rolled out in October, Cisco director of product management Paul Dul played down the need for 4-Gbit/s gear. (See 4-Gig Fans Fawn.)

As for Roy’s note, Cisco spokesman John Noh says the company does not comment on future product releases. Roy wrote that the MDS 9513 is in beta testing with customers and working fine.

Cisco and McData executives play down the impact of 4-Gbit/s gear until end-to-end systems are available. Even Brocade 4-Gbit/s customers are split; some say they have benefited from it for applications such as streaming video, while others say it is merely a placeholder until full 4-Gbit/s connectivity arrives. (See Philadelphia Stock Exchange.)

The IBM DS4800, manufactured by Engenio, supports 4-Gbit/s connectivity and started shipping in June and Hitachi launced its Adaptable Modular Storage AMS500 midrange system with 4-Gbit/s connectivity in July, but the other major storage vendors’ latest arrays run at 2 Gbit/s. (See IBM Drives 4-Gbit/s and Hitachi Plans Midrange Rollout.) There has been speculation that EMC would unveil a 4-Gbit/s Clariion midrange SAN controller in February, but an EMC spokesman says not to expect a 4-Gbit/s system “in the near future.”— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Organizations mentioned in this article:

  • Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD)

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Engenio Information Technologies Inc.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA)

  • QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC)

  • Susquehanna Financial Group

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