The agreement comes after Cisco and Intel engineers worked together to perform interoperability testing on Intel PRO/1000 family of adapters and the Cisco Catalyst switches.
Nigel Towel, head of marketing for Intel's LAN access division, said, "This agreement means that we will avoid situations where customers with technical problems are passed around between switching and interface vendor who blame technical problems on one another."
Towel admitted that Gigabit adoption has been slow but added, "With this agreement, both companies will be able to help customers build and support Gigabit solutions."
The agreement will mean that distributors and resellers will be able to offer special Cisco/Intel bundles at a discount and both companies have pledged "new sales, marketing and training initiatives" to promote Gigabit.
Details of how the cross marketing scheme will work are still being finalised but Towel believed there would be little competition between the partners. "We do have a few products which compete with Cisco but we focus more on PC manufacturers and not Cisco's usual channel," said Towel.
He said interoperability was not a major issue and would not say if Intel would sign other agreements with network switching vendors in the future, "Gigabit is still at an early stage," he added.
Claire Cook, senior European analyst at research group Rhetorik, said, "The Cisco / Intel announcement is significant in showing customers how seriously they perceive the market. The interoperability issue is a bit of a myth as the standards are well defined and observed," she added
Gigabit Ethernet uses the copper based CAT-5 structured cabling commonly found in medium-sized businesses and avoids the need for expensive optical fibre installation.
A recent Rhetorik survey of UK business found that the use of Gigabit in the corporate network backbone was growing rapidly and accounted for 15% of market. Sales of Gigabit products have grown 76% in the last 6 months alone