EMC Holds Off on Cisco

Its qualification of the Andiamo switches creeps along. Is EMC dragging its heels?

February 4, 2003

3 Min Read
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NEW YORK --- Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) hopes of having each of the major storage subsystem vendors certify its Andiamo switches this quarter could be complicated by one vendor -- EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) -- which is apparently in no rush to qualify the networking giant's Fibre Channel products (see IBM Tells Cisco: 'Let's Go!' and HP Next to Green-Light Cisco?).

In an interview with Byte and Switch here today at the launch of its Symmetrix DMX product line, EMC President and CEO Joe Tucci made it clear he believes Cisco needs EMC considerably more than the other way around (see EMC Soups Up Symm).

"Two thirds of every director product sold, EMC sells, and Cisco knows that," Tucci said. "Unless they change their pricing, Andiamo is going to be a director-class offering." He added, "We are qualifying it as a director, but it's not ready... It has certain tests to go through. It's a good product, and it will qualify, and at that point it will go on our list."

Tucci's comments are reminiscent of EMC's guarded approach to qualifying Brocade Communications Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: BRCD) director-class product, the SilkWorm 12000, as Brocade was at the time a newcomer to that segment of the market. IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) also notified its customers and partners about certain issues with Brocade's 12000 (see EMC's Caveats on Brocade 12000 and IBM on Brocade's 12000: Not Quite).

It's worth pointing out, too, that neither IBM nor Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) have officially given Andiamo the thumbs up. IBM has said it intends to certify the MDS line by the end of the first quarter; HP says it's shooting for sometime in the first half of the year (see HP Refills Its SAN Flask).EMC is well known for its exhaustive qualification and testing procedures, and Cisco's MDS 9000-series directors are clearly undergoing this scrutiny. Tucci declined to elaborate further on the testing of the Andiamo switches and how much longer the qualification will take. The company has had the Cisco switches in its testing lab since August 2002 (see EMC CTO Makes His Entrance).

A Cisco spokesman said the qualification process with EMC was tracking as expected but was unable to provide more details by press time.

Tucci said the reason EMC has to be so meticulous in its testing of other products is because customers call EMC when they have a storage problem, regardless of whether the company has developed the product at fault.

"Customers call us and say, 'Eh, help us out,' " Tucci said. "Right now when they have a problem with a Brocade director or a McData Corp. [Nasdaq: MCDTA] director, they don't call Brocade of McData -- they call us."

It's a fair point. A survey last year by Wall Street brokerage firm Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. revealed that most customers have noooo idea who makes the switches in their storage area networks (see Survey: OEMs Decide Switch Buys

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