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EMC, Cisco switch deal is on

EMC will resell the MDS 9000 family of switches from Cisco Systems as part of a long-anticipated partnership between the two companies.

LAS VEGAS--EMC is announcing Tuesday that it will resell a storage switch from Cisco Systems as part of a long-anticipated partnership between the two companies.

Under the deal, the company will sell Cisco's MDS 9000 family of switches under the EMC name. The EMC-branded switch can be managed using both Cisco and EMC software, though EMC's software will have limited abilities at first. The switch should be available later this quarter, the companies said.

The partnership is not the first for either company. EMC plans to sell a rival "intelligent switch" from Brocade Communications Systems, while Cisco has already signed deals to sell its storage switch through IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

The new deal is somewhat different in that EMC will sell the Cisco switch under its own Connectrix brand, and the two companies plan to work together to promote standards for such switches. EMC also plans to develop software that can run on Cisco's switches, though it did not give a time for when that might occur.

EMC is heavily touting the idea that storage software that currently runs on servers should be moved into the networking gear itself, a concept popular with switch makers like Cisco and Brocade.

Cisco is betting that a shift to more intelligent switches will give it a chance to break into the market against stiff competition from companies such as Brocade and McData. Cisco entered the market after last year's purchase of privately held Andiamo Systems.

"This is a clear indication of how storage will evolve in the network," said Luca Cafiero, a Cisco senior vice president.

Earlier Tuesday, Cisco CEO John Chambers noted that the company already has 40 customers for its storage switch and brought in just under $10 million in storage revenue last quarter. That figure, he said, could easily double each quarter for the next several quarters.

The Cisco deal is being announced at EMC's Technology Summit, a gathering of its large customers this week at the Mandalay Bay Conference Center here. On Monday, EMC used the event to announce plans for its first Windows-based storage system.