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IBM to sell Cisco data storage switches

The computer giant will be the first of Cisco's many resellers to push networking equipment meant to make backup storage cheaper for companies.

Cisco Systems on Monday announced a significant order for its data storage switches, which the networking king began selling nearly a year ago.

The company said Axa Technology Services plans to buy more than 8,000 switch ports through Cisco equipment reseller IBM. Axa Technology Services is part of Axa Group, a French insurance company. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

IBM is the first to resell Cisco's MDS 9000 IP Storage Services Module, which further tunes up the capabilities of an integral part of Cisco's storage lineup, the MDS 9000 SAN switch. The module should reduce the cost of operating these networks by simplifying the process, according to Cisco.

Cisco, Brocade Communications Systems and McData all compete for corporate spending on data storage, which involves building large storage area networks (SAN) to store backup copies of institutional information. SANs are in vogue because companies have become increasingly interested in building disaster-recovery systems since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and because of new government regulations for safeguarding information.

Companies bought about $1.2 billion in SAN gear last year, according to research firm Gartner. It predicts the sale of SAN gear will increase to $4.8 billion by 2006.

Cisco bought its way into the SAN market in August, purchasing switch maker Andiamo Systems. It has since signed deals with several big-name resellers, including IBM, EMC, Hewlett-Packard and Hitachi, which all have deep connections to the corporations already buying SAN gear.