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Cisco ships iSCSI/Fibre Channel-over-IP router

Cisco Systems has unveiled an iSCSI/Fibre Channel-over-IP storage router which, industry experts believe, points to the company's direction in the storage networking market.

The SN 5428 storage router will allow workgroups and small businesses to create storage area networks (SAN) using a combination of Fibre Channel, gigabit Ethernet and SCSI over IP (iSCSI) protocols over an IP network.

The 5428 is Cisco's second foray into the storage-over-IP market. In April last year, Cisco released the 5420, a gateway device that connected Fibre Channel storage devices over an IP network. Analysts described the launch of the 5420 as a trial balloon into the Fibre Channel connectivity marketplace, which proved to have few takers.

The 5428, priced at $11,995, has two gigabit Ethernet ports, eight Fibre Channel ports and three management ports.

Tony Prigmore, an analyst at Enterprise Storage Group, said the 5428 router is a midpoint iteration between the 5420 and the upcoming release of a multiprotocol, highly intelligent storage switch from Andiamo Systems, a storage networking vendor that is mostly owned by Cisco.

Doug Ingraham, senior manager of marketing for Cisco's storage technology group, said the 5428 would allow servers in enterprise workgroups, which include corporate departments and small and medium-sized businesses, to access consolidated storage in a SAN while allowing networking administrators to use "all the tools they were familiar with to set up and manage the network".

Benefits included easier management, more efficient storage and centralised backup, Ingraham said.

"It integrates both IP and Fibre Channel into the product, so servers can decide which technology [they] want to use," Ingraham said. "If you have high-performance servers that need ultrahigh bandwidth or low latency, you can connect that the Fibre Channel side."

ISCSI takes SCSI data and commands and encapsulates them in IP packets for transport over networks. Cisco and other storage over IP vendors, such as Nishan Systems, are still awaiting the release of the iSCSI standard. It is expected to be out by the end of the summer.

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