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QLogic, McDATA Combine on Blades

In a quest to improve the connectivity in clients' storage area networks, storage gear vendors QLogic Corp. and McData have agreed to create a special Fibre Channel switch for blade servers .

Financial terms were not made public. But as part of a multi-year alliance, the companies will create an embedded server switch and switch blade that will better route data over McData's fabric switches and SAN routers.

Several companies already employ McData directors and QLogic blade server switches in their networks. The idea for this effort, the companies said in a statement, is to extend McData's connectivity infrastructure from the core of the SAN to the blade servers at the edge.

This could be valuable at a time when customers are increasingly turning to modular servers like blades for more flexible computing choices and alternatives to racks servers and Big Iron. IDC estimates the blade server and blade switch market will top $4.3 billion by 2006.

The first blade server switch co-developed by the two companies will blend switch hardware and software from QLogic that provides interoperability in McDATA fabrics. Features will include interoperability from the core of the network to the edge, open management, security, partitioning and zoning.

The embedded blade server switch is scheduled for original equipment manufacturer qualification in McData's fiscal fourth quarter of 2004 and will be priced and sold through QLogic and McData OEMs. Going forward, McData and QLogic plan to improve the performance, security and interoperability of their co-developed switches.

McData's choice of QLogic in this venture makes sense, because the Aliso Viejo, Calif., concern is credited with forging the first embedded SAN infrastructure for bladed servers. It's also a leading supplier of Fibre Channel switch modules and HBAs for bladed servers.

McData makes directors that provide high availability to larger storage networks and mainframe FICON environments; fabric switches for reliable connectivity; and routers that cement storage and IP networking in SANs.

The Broomfield, Colo., company fights it out with Brocade Communications Systems and Cisco Systems in the networking infrastructure market to improve storage performance and availability.