McData to Bank On CNTs Storage Services Angle

With its pending purchase of Computer Network Technology, McData aims to provide maintenance and support services directly to customers.

McDatas plans for CNT became clearer Monday, when company officials started talking more openly about their strategy for the pending acquisition.

When McData Corp.s purchase of CNT (Computer Network Technology Corp.) becomes final on June 1, the company immediately will begin consolidating overlapping products and focusing more on CNTs services expertise, which includes storage consolidation, ESCON (Enterprise Systems Connection) to FICON (Fibre Connection) migration, backup, recovery, data replication and disaster recovery.

/zimages/3/28571.gifRead more here about McDatas plan to buy storage networking rival CNT.

The addition of CNTs services organization, which provides soup-to-nuts storage consulting and services for its customers as well as working with larger storage companies on specific opportunities, will greatly bolster McDatas maintenance and support services offerings, said Wayne Morris, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at McData, of Broomfield, Colo.

"McData really hasnt offered maintenance and support services directly to customers. Although we would do health checks and design, it wasnt done so much as a specific offering but as a part of us supporting high-end customers," he said.

With CNT, McData will gain a broader ability to deliver planning services, health checks and assessments, design, integration and implementation of products, and ongoing support and maintenance, Morris said.

"Now well be able to assess what the customer is trying to achieve—whether its data center consolidation, storage consolidation, moving to a tiered storage architecture, disaster recovery or backup—and work from front to back in terms of consulting, designing the solution and bringing a combination of products, software, services and maybe some third-party products," he said.

McDatas interest in expanding its services offering is an important opportunity to diversify the company, said Randy Kerns, senior partner at Evaluator Group of Greenwood Village, Colo.

"This is a valuable area for them, rather than staying narrowly focused on switches and directors and connectivity," he said. "Services is a healthy business, because one of the biggest issues for customers today is connecting remote and distributed data centers. Who better to bring that together than a McData/CNT combination?"

Along with its emphasis on services, McData plans to do some housekeeping by eliminating the few CNT products that overlap with McDatas own product line. Chief among the casualties are CNTs UMD (UltraNet Multi-Service Director), a storage networking infrastructure platform that overlaps with McDatas Intrepid 10000, and CNTs FC/9000 Fibre Channel/FICON Director, which will be replaced primarily with McDatas 6140 Director.

"Basically, we made a business decision. Its not that UMD wasnt an innovative, good product, but the McData director installed base is much greater, and we have many OEMs. And its fully interoperable and managed by McData software," Morris said.

To ease the pain for users of these products, McData plans to support the products for five years and to offer incentives during that time for customers to transition to McData products.

But by far, the focus on services has remained a primary goal in the companys acquisition of CNT.

"It wasnt about a technology acquisition—it was about changing to become a more full solution provider," Morris said.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read about McDatas acquisition of Nishan Systems Inc.

In some ways, McData didnt really have much choice but to make some changes if it wanted to continue competing against primary competitors Cisco Systems Inc. and Brocade Communications Systems Inc., Kerns said.

"They had to diversify in some way or they would get squeezed by their competition," he said. The acquisition of CNT and an emphasis on services will make the company more competitive against all competitors, he said.

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