Playing high stakes poker with your storage strategy?

Cisco has decided they hold the winning hand.

March 27, 2007 (Computerworld) — Last week’s announcement that Cisco Systems Inc. intends to acquire NeoPath Networks Inc. (see “News Briefs”) passed by with little fanfare other than with competing vendors lauding it as a validation of the file virtualization space as a whole. But on a larger scale, this announcement may signal that switch vendors are willing to step out from under the shadow of storage vendors.

Any storage professional in an enterprise data center knows that when buying a storage-area network (SAN) or network-attached storage (NAS), you typically first work through a storage vendor like EMC Corp. or Network Appliance Inc. The idea that one would first bring a networking vendor such as Brocade Communications Systems Inc. or Cisco Communications Inc. to the table to discuss strategic storage problems seems anathema.

This acquisition brings Cisco more directly into the storage conversation. If needing to consolidate and virtualize files across multiple NAS heads, suddenly it’s Cisco’s engineers leading the file-consolidation discussion, not EMC’s or NetApp’s.

This acquisition also brings Cisco directly into competition with companies whose products it had carefully avoided competing against. For instance, Cisco’s MDS9000’s Storage Service Module (SSM) switch complemented other storage vendor’s virtualization offerings by allowing them to install and run their software on Cisco’s Fibre Channel directors without directly competing against them.

What does this mean for the Cisco NetApp partnership?

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