McData preps for automated storage

Looking to bring increased intelligence and automation to storage networking, McData Corp. acquired two companies with the technology it believes will get the company there faster than the competition.

Spending a total of US$185 million in cash for Nishan Systems Inc. and Sanera Systems Inc. McData officials said the move has "changed the future of storage networking."

Mike Gustafson, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at McData, said the company now has a complete end-to-end set of switching products for its customers. "When completely integrated, we’ll have the best set of solutions out there," Gustafson said. "These acquisitions will help us get to real-time storage services."

Gustafson compared the concept of real-time storage services to what IBM is working toward with its On Demand computing initiative. In other words, McData sees storage becoming more automated, adaptive, and available. But to get there, McData believes storage must be more scalable, intelligent, and internetworked.

He explained that the acquisition of Sanera’s director-class switch, the DS10000, resolves the scalability issue with its 256 ports, all of which can be used as 2Gbps or 64 aggregated running at 10Gbps. The acquisition of Nishan’s family of IP-based storage switches, the IPS 4000 Series and IPS 3000 Series, fulfills the internetworking requirement. In order to meet the intelligence requirement, McData invested US$6 million in storage-processor start-up Aarohi Communications. The investment gives McData a 15 percent equity stake in the company building the chip that will reside in McData’s forthcoming intelligent-switch platform.

McData’s primary competitor in the storage switch arena, Brocade Communications Systems, was not overly concerned by McData’s acquisitions.

"We don’t think these acquisitions (have) ‘changed the future of storage,’ " said Tom Buiocchi, vice president of marketing at Brocade. "They bought three disparate technologies to do stuff that’s been there a long time. We got all of that stuff in the acquisition of Rhapsody."

Buiocchi added that the Rhapsody technology Brocade acquired in January already had multiprotocol support and has "all of their bases covered." He added that Brocade has been working a long time to integrate that technology into its family of switches. In the end, he said both vendors will have the same core technologies.

Without much difference in offerings, Buiocchi sees each company focusing on helping their customer base move to a next-generation SAN without ripping and replacing equipment.

McData said it will concentrate on integrating its acquisitions into its product offerings. Gustafson said that by the middle of next year everything will be completely integrated.

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