Cisco Joins the 4-Gig Party

Cisco Systems became the last of the major storage switch vendors to offer 4Gbps Fibre Channel today, unveiling the new MDS 9513 Multilayer Director, along with 4Gbps and 10Gbps Fibre Channel Switching Modules for both new and existing MDS 9000 products.

With the new modules, the MDS 9513 can scale up to 528 Fibre Channel ports, with 132 of them 4-gig ports, and the MDS 9509 and MDS 9506 directors can scale to 336 and 192 ports, respectively. The modules can also be deployed in existing 9200 Series products.

Cisco also added new features to its SAN-OS 3.0 operating system, including improved port bandwidth management and enhanced FICON capability.

Along with the other MDS 9500 directors, the 9513 offers features such as full bandwidth redundancy to help ensure system throughput even in the event of a crossbar failure. Other high availability attributes include support for non-disruptive software upgrades, modular software with stateful process restart, support for cross-module inter-switch links (ISLs) scaling to 16 ports each, and full redundancy of critical hardware components.

The new 1/2/4 Gbps autosensing modules are available in 12-, 24- and 48-port configurations, and Cisco also introduced a 10-Gbps Fibre Channel module in a 4-port configuration and the Supervisor-2 Module for all MDS 9500 Series directors.

McData and Brocade, meanwhile, plan to show off their 4-gig director blades at this week’s Storage Networking World conference.

The three have been locked in a fierce battle for supremacy in the high-end director market, with McData in the lead and Cisco and Brocade gaining ground. Brocade benefited from being first to market with 4-gig products, but competition from McData and Cisco should make for an interesting year in the space.

Paul Dul, director of product marketing for Cisco’s data center and storage networking business unit, said Cisco will do its part to keep the competition interesting, promising “very competitive pricing” on the new products.

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