Extending its reach in the open storage networking arena, Cisco has strengthened its alliance with IBM by offering a host of new storage solutions to Big Blue’s resellers.

Under the agreement, IBM and its business partners can resell the Cisco MDS line of products including the 9509 multilayer

director, the 9216 multilayer fabric switch and associated modules. “”The entire agreement includes interoperability qualifications of the MDS 9000 across a number of IBM server, storage and software products,”” says Steve Simmons, vice-president of channel operations at Cisco.

From a Cisco perspective, IBM is the first major storage vendor that Cisco has signed up to resell the MDS 9000 line, Simmons says. “”As we’re aware, storage vendors are the primary channel for SAN switches because customers prefer to buy these switches as part of an entire solution that includes storage subsystems, servers and software.””

Indeed, the move is significant, Simmons says, because it’s a reseller agreement and not an OEM agreement. “”This means IBM will sell the MDS 9000 under our logo.”” The strategic alliance ensures there’s mutual interoperability between product lines throughout all of the certification testing, and also in integrated service and support, he adds. “”This is particularly important when we’re talking about mission critical environments.””

He says Cisco will pursue similar agreements with a number of select storage and system vendors. “”This is not an exclusive agreement with either company.””

Customers are starting to recognize the benefits of storage area networking, he adds. “”They are looking at extending the SANs they currently have today beyond the core data centre. So as customers want to add IP servers to these SANs, and they want to extend their SANs across their IP infrastructures, they’re going to need an integrated platform that can accommodate this growth.””

And while customers are sharing the SANs across multiple different departments, applications and sites, they need increased security and scaleability, he says. “”So what the MDS 9000 platform accommodates is it addresses all of our customers’ growing needs for broader SAN convergence across the entire network . . . in a secured, scaleable fashion.””

Meanwhile, Computer Associates is also strengthening its pact with resellers in the SAN marketplace. The company recently launched BrightStor SAN Manager, a SAN solution that the company says simplifies the life of an IT manager administering multivendor SANs.

“”This is the first generally available specific solution to manage the SAN,”” says Eric Pitcher, vice-president of BrightStor brand of products.

Ease of use and simplicity differentiates BrightStor from other SAN gear, Pitcher says. “”We’ve created a solution that simplifies SAN management to the point that it can be used by non SAN savvy people.””

One of today’s trends, Pitcher says, is that SANs are being managed by one or two senior level technicians, who although are highly skilled and trained, don’t have time for the day-to-day administration and troubleshooting. “”That’s not efficient for the business. Those guys should be doing other things that are valuable to the company.

“”So we’ve created a pool that uses the same policy, the same interfaces, the same methodologies that operations departments use to manage the rest of the IT enterprise . . . so now they can manage the SAN with little to no impact with what they’re currently doing already.””

Pitcher says CA has made the pricing simple and competitive for the resellers. “”We don’t charge per port, we don’t charge per terabyte, heck we don’t charge for the management server, the server on which SAN manager runs on, and we don’t charge to send you the CDs. We charge you on a tiered-server basis, so it’s very simple, very easy pricing that can be quoted by the reseller, who can get it into the environment.””

Although BrightStor is relatively easy to install and does a quick discovery and automation for the user, Pitcher says there’s a lot of opportunity for resellers to configure the solution to the client’s business. “”They can create business processes, create automation — so there’s a lot of opportunity for services.””

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