Wisdom of Smart Switch Questioned

MaXXan puts upgraded FalconStor software on smart switches - too much of a good thing?

December 23, 2003

2 Min Read
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MaXXan Systems Inc., looking to distinguish itself in a competitive switch market by offering advanced software capabilities, says its intelligent switches now include an upgraded version of virtualization and management software from FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC).

MaXXan's new software, IPStor 4.0, provides its storage appliance and blade server with virtualization and real-time data migration capabilities -- to go with the basic mirroring and replication the vendor previously offered as part of its gear.

But at least one analyst questions whether giving its intelligent switch more brain capability is the smartest thing for MaXXan to do.

[The] software is from a company that has been in existence a long time and is a known company, so that’s good,” says analyst Steve Berg of Punk Ziegel & Co.

“But I’m not convinced end users want all the software to reside on the switch."

For Berg, putting so much software on a switch raises concerns about the potential security and performance impact of having too many of the storage network's vital resources in one place. Software does a fairly decent job on network servers, he suggests.But from MaXXan's viewpoint, the tack adds value and makes MaXXan more than just a competitor to Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA), and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO).

“We are not selling a pure switch,” says Ravi Chalaka, MaXXan’s marketing VP. “We’re selling NAS functionality, disaster recovery functionality, and virtualization functionality.”

From his perspective, the more functionality MaXXan can provide, the better. “Offering replication and mirroring was great, but that was only half the solution,” he manitains.

Chalaka says MaXXan’s original switch offering in August brought the company seven sales, with more pending. MaXXan’s appliances range in price from $25,000 to $50,000, and its intelligent application switch with the embedded application blades ranges from $80,000 to $150,000, depending on the number of ports and blades.

The relationship between MaXXan and FalconStor goes back to April (see MaXXan Teams With FalconStor). FalconStor announced its lastest software upgrade in September, one that includes advanced data replication as well as enhanced backup and management storage services (see FalconStor Ships IPStor 4.0).— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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