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Cisco Shores Up Its New Firmware

Cisco Systems , long time champion in the networking sector, is looking boost its firmware lineup.

The San Jose, Calif.-based computer-networking equipment maker said Wednesday that its SN 5420 Storage Router v 2.1.1 is ready for download. Cisco says the upgrade improves security, reliability and manageability that until now had not been applied to networked storage.

The firmware is now available for download at no charge on the Cisco Web site for SN 5420 customers with SMARTNet contracts. The company says all new Cisco SN 5420s will ship with the latest firmware.

Cisco also announced additional interoperability and iSCSI driver support that will allow customers to use the Cisco SN 5420 in more storage and server environments. The iSCSI drivers for HP-UX and IBM AIX are expected to be available by the end of April.

Using the combination of the Cisco SN 5420 and standard Ethernet switches, customers can combine any number of midrange servers, taking advantage of their current IP infrastructure while providing a gateway to Fibre Channel storage devices and networks.

With the new Virtual LAN (VLAN) support, servers connected to the Cisco SN 5420 can physically share the same storage network resources but will only have access to designated devices. For example, businesses can use VLANs to allow different divisions or business units to share the same storage network, without needing to build separate networks for each group. The SN 5420 now also supports VLAN Trunking protocol, which helps better manage and control VLANs.

Other security features of the SN 5420 include improved authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA) through support for RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service) and TACACS+ (Terminal Access Controller Access Control System), which both use CHAP (Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol).

Because the Cisco SN 5420 now supports more standard Management Information Bases (MIBs), including the iSCSI and the Fibre Alliance MIB, the company says customers can use their familiarity with industry-standard SNMP system managers and heterogeneous storage management applications to manage the new firmware. In addition to SNMP management, the Cisco SN 5420 now also supports CiscoWorks 2000, Cisco's Network Management product suite, and CDP (Cisco Discovery Protocol).

Cisco also said that two additional storage industry companies, IBM and Legato Systems, Inc., validated the Cisco SN 5420 as interoperable with their respective solutions. IBM successfully tested the Cisco SN 5420 as interoperable with the IBM TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server (code named "Shark"), becoming the first enterprise-class storage system to achieve this distinction. Legato qualified the Cisco SN 5420 for interoperability with Legato NetWorker 6.1, the software-based information protection solution for heterogeneous IT environments.

These tests add to previous qualifications of the Cisco SN 5420, joining Alacritech, Brocade, INRANGE, Intel, McData, Quantum/ATL, and VERITAS.