Mad MaXXan at the SANdrome

Is MaXXon Networks racing Andiamo for Cisco's attention?

June 16, 2001

2 Min Read
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MaXXan Systems Inc. (currently building a multiprotocol SAN switch in deep stealth mode) could be racing against Andiamo Systems Inc. for the attention of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). Whatever the case, both have strong links to Cisco (see Ciscos Secret SAN Strategies Revealed).

MaXXan’s management team comes mainly from the Fibre Channel world, Compaq Computer Corp.'s (NYSE: CPQ) clustering and hardware units, and IBM Corp. (Nasdaq: IBM). Although the company doesn’t have a CEO yet, it does have Ray Kao as executive advisor, who could make all the difference.

Kao was founder and CTO of TransMedia Communications, which he sold to Cisco for $400 million in September 1999. Before that, he was chief architect at Stratacom, which was also sold to Cisco, for a whopping $4 billion. And when he’s not advising MaXXan he’s playing the CEO role over at a little known optical startup, Polaris Networks, which (incidently) is staffed by ex-Cisco folk.

Could MaXXan be another Cisco spin-in operation, vis-à-vis Andiamo? We can’t be sure, as both companies declined to comment on the story.

But Cisco has confirmed that Andiamo is building a storage networking switch funded by the company and operating on its campus. (see All Eyes on Cisco)It’s clear from Kao’s record that Cisco will more than likely have an eye on what MaXXan is up to. It’s also worth noting MaXXan’s offices are on Bonaventura Drive, just around the corner from Cisco’s headquarters in San Jose, Calif.

So what’s MaXXan doing?

“Building a high-end focused product to facilitate the convergence of traditional SANs with the global, IP-based, data-communications network,” according to one Silicon Valley VC. So that clear’s that up.

Sounds very similar to what Andiamo is supposed to be doing. Both companies belong in the encyclopedia of storage networking startups doing Fibre Channel, gigabit Ethernet, and IP switching in one box, except these two are a considerable way behind the pack (see Top Ten Private
Storage Networking Companies).

MaXXan received $26 million in first-round funding led by US Venture Partners and Venrock Associates in May and has 70 employees (80 percent of the engineering staff are hardware experts and 20 percent, software).The question we have is how many other startups out there are competing for Cisco’s attention in this market?

Jo Maitland, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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