New SAN Storage Switches on the Way

McData to launch the Intrepid 6140, a 140-port product; Brocade will unveil its first 32-port Fibre Channel switch.

Users of storage-area networks will get a slew of new switching options to choose from in October, with promises of even more to come.

McData Corp., the market share leader in high-end switches, will launch the Intrepid 6140, a 140-port product, on Tuesday, a spokesman for the Broomfield, Colo., company said. McDatas current high-end switch, the Intrepid 6064, only has 64 ports.

Besides the new scalability, McData put 12 of the 6140s ports on the units backend, for users who daisy chain switches, the spokesman said.

The 6140 system is 12U tall, with three units fitting in a standard 42-inch-tall rack. Its hot-swappable cards have four 2G-bps Fibre Channel ports each, and users can install any quantity of cards using McDatas pre-installed FlexPort software, the spokesman said. Those can also be 10 Gigabit Ethernet or iSCSI cards, the spokesman said.

Arun Taneja, an analyst with Enterprise Storage Group Inc., said that despite the impressive specifications, the best new feature in the 6140 is its 99.9999 percent—or "six nines"—of planned annual uptime.

"I didnt see any catch to it. Five nines is 12 minutes a year downtime. Now with this product, theyre aiming for 1.2 minutes," said Taneja, in Milford, Mass.

Thats on par with some carrier-grade telecommunication products, he said.

McData also plans to announce new security features later in October, the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Brocade Communications Systems Inc., the mainstream storage switch leader, will launch its first 32-port Fibre Channel switch at the Storage Networking World show in Orlando, Fla., the week of Oct. 27. That fills a hole in the San Jose, Calif., companys product line, which currently includes 8- 16- and 64-port switches.

Brocade also sells the 128-port SilkWorm 12000, which is actually two 64-port switches linked together, officials said. Native 128- and 256-port switches are also planned, officials said, declining to elaborate.