McData, Brocade Communications Systems and Cisco Systems are all embedding applications in their fibre channel switches.
Last week, McData acquired Nishan Systems and Sanera Systems so that it can move from offering just fibre channel directors to offering storage over internet protocol and expand its port count to 246, up from 140.
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McData paid $83m for Nishan, $102m for Sanera and $6m for its stake in Aarohi Communications.
McData also acquired a 15% stake of Aarohi Communications for its software and processors that will enable data replication from its directors.
The technologies that come along with the purchases will enable McData to take its competitors, Cisco Systems and Brocade Communications Systems, head on.
Cisco Systems and Brocade Communications had acquired Andiamo and Rhapsody for their intelligent fibre switch technologies.
Nishan makes multi-protocol switches that transport block-level data over Ethernet using the Internet SCSI (small computer system interface) and internet fibre channel protocol standards.
Nishan's switches encapsulate fibre channel and SCSI data packets with IP headers for transport over Ethernet, allowing companies to either connect remote storage area networks (San) through tunnelling or many small servers to Sans for backup.
A key piece of technology offered by Sanera is dynamic partitioning or the ability to carve up a switch into sectors with separate service levels for different applications.
McData's expanded portfolio will allow customers to build their storage services infrastructure. Adding application support to their switches will help McData enable data movement and virtualisation of storage within businesses.
Virtualisation is used to give logical representation of disparate physical storage so it can be managed, allocated and monitored easily and effectively.
The combination of Sanera with a core-switching architecture as well as Nishan with its ability to do San routing is beneficial, said Jamie Gruener, senior analyst with the Yankee Group.
Customers will be able to reduce complexity and increase asset utilisation and interconnect multi-supplier and multi-application San islands through partitioning.
Customers can also enable multi-protocol San routing, barrier-free distance solutions that provide enhanced business continuance and disaster recovery and iSCSI solutions.
Melanie Liew writes for Computerworld Singapore