McDATA Muscles In on Brocade

McDATA has unveiled a new low-cost fabric switch aimed squarely at Brocade’s business.

The McDATA Sphereon 4300 is built for the smallest enterprises and the edge requirements of larger companies, the company reports. It’s available as a four-port switch and can be upgraded to eight and 12 ports without disruption to data traffic, thanks to McDATA’s HotCAT technology.

“This is Brocade’s bread and butter area, and McDATA just introduced a better solution,” says Nancy Marrone-Hurley, senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group. “Not only is it low cost, but it has a number of high-end features, including hot upgrades, which Brocade only just introduced on their high-end products. They have more flexibility in their port counts than Brocade, which is also attractive to users that don’t need director-class switches but want [the scalability] to grow into larger SANs.”

“McDATA has done well with their mid-level switch [the Sphereon 4500, which scales up to 24 ports], eating into Brocade’s market there,” continues Marrone-Hurley. “However, now they will need to get the OEMs to push McDATA over Brocade, which may not be the easiest task, although customers may appreciate the option.”

Brocade offers 8-port (Silkworm 3200) and 16-port (Silkworm 3800) switches, with the first considered entry-level and the second departmental, according to Marrone-Hurley. Both companies also offer 32-port switches.

McDATA asserts that a port count starting as low as four – with the flexibility to grow to eight or 12 ports – meets the cost and ease of use requirements for customers who might otherwise use direct-attached storage (DAS) solutions. Customers purchasing the 12-port version of the new Sphereon
4300, for example, will find the price comparable to competitive 8-port offerings, the company claims.

“This translates into getting 50% more ports for the same price,” touts McDATA.

An extension of the Sphereon 4000 product line built on McDATA’s “switch on a chip” design, the 4300 also guarantees interoperability and backward compatibility with the entire McDATA product line.

The Sphereon 4300 will be available to McDATA’s storage OEMs, master resellers, and value-added resellers and distributors beginning August 11.

McDATA this week also unveiled new versions of its SANavigator and EFCM SAN Management Platform. The upgraded storage network management software solutions now leverage a shared code base into a common SAN Management Platform. The framework allows for the licensing of pluggable sets of optional key-activated services modules.

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