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McData strips out overlap with CNT

Jo Maitland, News Director

As expected, McData Corp. acknowledged Monday that it will discontinue Computer Network Technology Corp.'s (CNT) director switches -- the UltraNet Multi-service Director (UMD) and FC 9000 -- in favor of its own i10K and 6140 products.

The clarification on the road map comes five months after McData announced the acquisition of CNT for $235 million in January 2005.

"The two products, the UMD versus the i10K, were the source of the majority of product overlap and customer uncertainty," said Dan Renouard, analyst with Robert W Baird & Co., in a note to investors.

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CNT began shipping its UMD about six months ahead of McData's launch of the i10K in January of this year. The two products were direct competitors. By the time McData announced it would acquire CNT in January, the company had shipped 280 units of the UMD and had 70 customers, accounting for about $40 million in revenue.

CNT FC 9000 customers number about 400, according to Wayne Morris, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for McData.

When the acquisition closes on June 1, McData will stop marketing and development on the UMD, FC 9000 and older CD 9000, but will continue to ship the products and associated line cards until the end of this year. McData will support these products for the next five years, which will include interoperability and testing with the rest of its product line.

Both UMD and FC 9000 customers will be offered migration paths to the i10K or, for smaller FC 9000 environments, migration to McData's 6140. "Customers are unlikely to rip and replace these products as they are in FICON environments and this would be too disruptive," Morris said. He added that McData is working on certifying a cascading capability with IBM to connect the UMD with the i10K to serve as a migration strategy for users.

UMD vs. i10K

McData officials said the reasons for continuing the i10K over the UMD were business-oriented rather than technical. "It would take us several months to get the UMD to the same point of integration with the rest of McData's products … and the i10K has a larger number of OEM partners than the UMD," Morris said. He admitted that the downside to letting go of the UMD was losing its quality of service capability, which enabled users to prioritize data. He expects this feature will eventually make it into the i10K.

As far as the FC 9000 goes, this was a much older technology and had significantly fewer customers than McData's 6140, according to Morris. He said that at some point McData will rationalize its edge switching products, but right now plans to keep both companies' lines, as McData supports IFCP while CNT supports FCIP. "We'll keep both for now to offer customers the choice."

Software integration and services

Post acquisition, McData will begin the work of integrating CNT's management software into its Enterprise Fabric Connectivity Manager (EFCM) suite. By January 2006 it expects to have integrated SANavigator, SANpilot and SANvergence into this suite, too. EFCM will be offered in three configurations: basic, standard and enterprise.

McData plans to use CNT's services expertise to "become more intimate with its customers," Morris said. Behind this strategy is the need to create more channels to market than just its OEM model and to better compete with Cisco, which has strong account control. Analysts were upbeat about the proposed integration plans, but noted that McData must now execute on them.

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