Cisco Rolls Out New Storage Switch

High-end IP storage networking hasn't succeeded yet, so Cisco looks for success in the midrange and workgroup niches with its SN 5428 switch.

High-end IP storage networking hasnt succeeded yet, so Cisco Systems Inc. is trying for success in the midrange and workgroup niches.

Cisco on Tuesday will announce the new SN 5428 router, officials said.

Adoption in the high-end market, where Ciscos earlier 5420 plays, "has been minimal if at all," and "theres still quite a bit of work to be done," said Doug Ingraham, senior manager, Cisco Storage Technology Group, in San Jose, Calif. But for midrange and workgroup uses, where applications have fewer performance requirements and the same people often manage networking and storage anyway, "iSCSI is a best fit," he said.

The new switch is based on an eight-port Fibre Channel device from QLogic Corp., which announced its alliance with Cisco last month. Cisco had an existing relationship with the larger Brocade Communications Systems Inc., which recently ended.

"Were using their switching ASICs," Ingraham said of Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based QLogic, referring to the specialty chips. Cisco built the two Gigabit Ethernet ports and the logical unit number (LUN) masking and mapping technology, but unlike higher-end products, the 5428 wont have a TCP/IP offload engine. If users really need it, they can get TOE functionality in third-party network cards and adapters, he said.

Future versions of the 5428 will offer more port combinations, and resellers will likely bundle the product with software like Legato Systems Inc.s management tools or Veritas Software Corp.s virtualization components, Ingraham said. Security will also be improved, through more in-house development and through partnerships, he said.

Chris McMahan, CIO at Wireless Retail Inc., in Scottsdale, Ariz., has been beta testing the 5428 for about a month. Using about 20 servers today, "were making a decision to go to a SAN [storage area network]," he said.

The SAN will be Compaq-based technology from Hewlett-Packard Co., spanning about 1.2 terabytes. Compaq doesnt provide technology like the 5428 natively, and although "they didnt necessarily say no problem, we were comfortable with Ciscos getting it to work," McMahan said.