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Brocade, Nortel team on optical storage

The two companies say their partnership will result in more cost-effective storage technology and more reliable data backup. Also: Cisco announces a new router.

Brocade Communications Systems and Nortel Networks announced a partnership Tuesday that they say will improve optical storage technology.

Brocade, which makes infrastructure for storage area networks (SANs), will put its switches on Nortel's optical networks, the companies said, making for a more cost-effective storage technology and more reliable data backup. SANs store data in a centralized network, as opposed to on hundreds of servers.

Nortel and Brocade said they plan to deliver a range of hardware and software for optical SAN technology by working together on interoperability testing and the extension of SANs to metropolitan and wide-area networks. Wide-area networks are made up of interconnected, smaller networks spread throughout a building, a state or the entire globe.

The two companies introduced a product called "Solutionware," which gives instructions on how to configure and install Nortel optical infrastructure in a Brocade SAN environment.

Also on Tuesday, as previously reported, Cisco Systems announced its new SN 5428 storage router. The product attempts to assuage some of the problems in the storage industry, some of which center on the high expense of SANs and the coexistence of two competing technologies.

The router incorporates opposing switching technologies to allow workgroups to move from direct attached storage to storage area networks, the company said. Workgroups within a corporation had previously been unable to consolidate their storage because of the complexity involved in setting up a SAN.

By combining Internet Protocol (IP) and Fibre Channel technology, Cisco's new router allows workgroups and smaller businesses to consolidate their storage. The storage industry has long been divided by these similar, but previously not interoperable technologies. Cisco just this month embraced Fibre Channel.

The router will sell for around $12,000.

"Cisco's product cycle remains a growth catalyst as the economy improves," SG Cowen analyst Christin Armacost said in a research note Tuesday. A presentation that the equity research firm obtained from Cisco's Web site also suggests that the company will introduce another high-end router soon, she added.