Cisco reaches high with new switches

A 528-port storage fabric switch marks the new high-end for Cisco, which has also launched a 10Gbps module for linking SANs together

Cisco launched a range of new storage products on Monday, including a top-end switch with 528 ports which the company claims is the largest capacity storage switch on the market.

Fully configured, the top-end MDS 9513 switch will carry 528 ports, which can be a mix of 1Gbps, 2Gbps, 4Gbps and 10Gbps Fibre Channel connections.

Cisco also announced four new switch modules. Three of the new switching units can have speeds of 1Gbps, 2Gbps or 4Gbps and come with 12, 24 or 48 ports. There is also a top-end unit that comes with four 10Gbps ports.

This top-end switch is aimed at "inter-switch communications, where you are linking together two storage-area networks, and applications across metropolitan switches", according to Dante Malagrino, Cisco's senior manager for data centre systems.

In additions, Cisco launched two other new switches, which provide up to 192 or 336 ports in smaller cabinets. But the new switches "do not replace anything," according to Malagrino. "We are not taking anything away and you can fit any of the new modules into existing chassis."

The new switches are the "first backwards- and forwards-compatible switches and are fully compatible with what is out there", said Malagrino, referring to the storage industry's notorious habit of launching new systems that are incompatible with previous models and require the user to replace expensive existing hardware.

"The new switches do not require an upgrade [to any other part of the system] and that is a first for this industry," said Malagrino.

Along with the new switches, which Cisco claims "represent not just the highest capacity fabric switches but the fastest on the market", the company also announced new software, which Cisco says should improve the performance of Web applications across networks by cutting down latency.