McData Targets Small Users

McData Corp. announced a new entry-level Fibre Channel switch and new high-end software options last week.

McData Corp. announced a new entry-level Fibre Channel switch and new high-end software options last week, with more due this fall and into next year, officials in Broomfield, Colo., said.

The new switch, the Sphereon 4300, at just four ports is McDatas smallest. It scales to 12 ports in four-port increments and includes the SANpilot management software, said Doug Rainbolt, vice president of switch products.

The Sphereon 4300 will ship to OEM partners this week and will be available for users this fall, Rainbolt said.

Small-scale SANs (storage area networks) will probably attach to Windows servers and will be used for applications such as messaging and file serving, Rainbolt said. Even though McDatas products are traditionally geared for large, multivendor SANs, "the technology is very extensible up and down," he said.

Other switches from McData have iSCSI options, but the Sphereon 4300 will not, despite industry road maps categorizing the technology as ideal for small businesses. "Very different architectures" are needed for that, Rainbolt said.

Although the entry-level SAN market is dominated by Brocade Communications Systems Inc., there are still opportunities for McData to serve such users in new ways, said Brad Wenzel, CEO of Wenzel Data Inc., a storage reseller. "The midsize customer now is pretty smart in enterprise storage; its not like four years ago," Wenzel said. McData has access to small users through partners such as Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co., and even though Brocade was there first, "on support and maintenance, Brocade has notoriously been expensive," said Wenzel, in Stillwater, Minn.

Separately, there are upgrades to McDatas high-end SANavigator management software and to the OEM version, EFCM (Enterprise Fabric Connectivity Manager), officials said. The products now share common code, so the new SANavigator 4.0 has EFCMs discovery features, while the new EFCM 8.0 gives users access to SANavigators add-on modules, officials said.