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Cisco Invests in StoreAge

While storage virtualization may look like a promising technology to administrators, it apparently looks like a promising investment to Cisco. Yesterday Cisco Systems Corp. joined a $25 million round of investment in StoreAge Networking Technologies Inc.

The Haifa, Israel-based storage virtualization vendor is just beginning to step up its stateside operations, and the investment will enable the company to ramp up its marketing and sales operations.

Dan Schoffelman, director of US operations at StoreAge, says the investment will aid StoreAge’s credibility with OEMs. He says that OEMs often look to a vendor’s investors to gauge its prominence, adding, “I can’t think of a better one than Cisco.”

Tony Prigmore, an analyst with the Enterprise Storage Group, Inc. agrees that the Cisco investment lends StoreAge credibility. “Cisco's investment in StoreAge validates both the StoreAge business model as well as the strategic importance of storage virtualization in general,” he says.

Cisco’s investments in storage are a top priority for the company, from both a strategic and revenue points of view, according to Prigmore. Last July, Cisco bought NuSpeed Systems, which makes products for connecting SANs to IP networks, pointing to a storage initiative at Cisco.

Schoffelman suggests that Cisco may be interested in leveraging it investment for future storage products. “The big win-win will be doing storage networking over long hauls,” he says, noting Cisco has no current plans for StoreAge technology. However, he says, “They are very focused on Fibre Channel, based on product directions.”

While storage networking is important to Cisco, Prigmore does not believe that Cisco is planning to leverage its stake in StoreAge. “I don’t see anything out of this as a direct technology share,” he says. Primore says any speculation about products is pretty wild, stating “It’s way too early to say ‘they want to make a storage blade for their Catalyst switch.”

StoreAge’s flagship product, SAN Volume Manager (SVM), is a storage virtualization system for Windows NT and 2000. It consists of a PCI card with dual Fibre Channel ports that sits on the SAN to manager and monitor logical volumes. The card is installed in a Windows server, which enables web-based adminstrator access.

Servers run software based agents, which mount logical volumes on the SAN as different storage devices. The virtualization is transparent to the end user. Standard Fibre Channel HBAs are installed in the server.

Prigmore says that SVM will probably attract many administrators as the virtualization market grows. “-Christopher McConnell

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.