New Cisco router may rewrite IP storage rules

Network World |  Networking

Cisco this week will formally enter the storage network market with technology that could help customers get more out of their Ethernet networks.

In a move that will shake up one of the few infrastructure markets Cisco has left unchallenged, the company will unveil one of the industry's first IP storage routers, a product for shuttling data between Ethernet LANs and Fibre Channel or SCSI storage systems. The router is expected to be part of an end-to-end storage network line from Cisco that will work with the company's Catalyst line of switches and routers.

Cisco, which declined to comment on its plans, will be one of many companies announcing new storage wares this week at the Storage Networking World conference in Palm Desert, Calif. Brocade and McData will also use the event to roll out high-end storage-area network (SAN) switches, while Adaptec and Intel are expected to deliver IP storage offerings.

But it is Cisco's storage gambit that will garner the most attention.

"It's inevitable that Cisco is going to have a huge impact given that it is the dominant infrastructure player already," says Steve Duplessie, an analyst with Enterprise Storage Group. "[Cisco is] going to spend a lot of money and effort on this emerging business."

Cisco's new router is the first fruit of its acquisition last year of NuSpeed Internet Systems for $450 million, and Duplessie expects Cisco to buy another five to 10 storage companies during the next few years.

It should come as no surprise that Cisco would emphasize IP in its storage strategy. Although Fibre Channel-based SANs have emerged as useful systems for handling storage needs in data centers and for keeping storage traffic from bogging down corporate networks, IP storage is gaining momentum because it lets companies extend their Ethernet LANs and avoid some of the training and interoperability issues involved with SANs.

"This plays nicely into Cisco's quality-of-service story in that you can actually route data over the existing network infrastructure without having a separate Fibre Channel SAN and prioritize the data," says Ter

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