Cisco releases API for MDS 9000 switches

Big-name software makers are joining a new partner program that will let their storage management tools work with Cisco's MDS 9000 line of fabric switches.

Cisco Systems Inc. has taken a step toward fleshing out the software side of its switch strategy by bringing in the big names for a new partner program.

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco announced a technology development program Monday that gives independent software vendors (ISVs) access to the application platform interface (API) for Cisco's MDS 9000 line of directors and fabric switches.

Access to the API lets software developers port their applications to Cisco's switches, letting them interoperate.

Cisco said the open-API program includes a software developer's kit for access to Cisco's SNMP management information base (MIB), including SNMP v2 for discovery and monitoring and SNMP v3 for secured configuration and access control.

Cisco has developed and published 80 MIBs for the Cisco MDS 9000; they tackle everything from topology discovery to Fibre Channel zoning.

Members of the program can also use Cisco's development tools and partner development laboratory.

BMC Software Inc. has thrown its hat into the ring with its Patrol Storage management software suite. Additionally, Computer Associates International Inc. plans to write BrightStor SAN Manager into the mix. The same thing will happen with big software packages like Hewlett-Packard Co.'s OpenView Storage Area Manager, IBM Corp.'s Tivoli SAN Manager, InterSAN's Pathline, Tek-Tools Inc.'s Storage Profiler and Veritas' SANPoint Control, the company said.

All of the software partners plan on deploying Cisco MDS 9000-compatible versions of their management applications within the next 90 days.

Cisco said that other storage network management vendors would be able to join the program upon meeting the qualification requirements.

Cisco has put its last duck in the proverbial row with the announcement of its API program. The company has already signed on big-name storage resellers to peddle its switch products.

Opening the API to the MDS 9000 family was a necessary step in the product's evolution and acceptance in the market. If the major storage management tools can't detect or manage a Cisco switch, it would render them useless.

Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst, Enterprise Storage Group Inc., Milford, Mass., said that, normally, a hardware company would open its API first and then recruit resellers. Cisco's industry clout, he said, lets it operate as it pleases.

"It's Cisco. They can do what the want," he said. "In order to be accepted in the market, they will have to be able to be managed by the tools the [people] are already using."

In January, Cisco rang in the New Year by signing preliminary agreements with HP and IBM to resell its MDS fabric switches.

IBM and its partners will offer customers Cisco's MDS 9000 family of products, beginning with the Cisco MDS 9509 Multilayer Director and Cisco MDS 9216 Multilayer Fabric Switch, as well as associated modules, Cisco said. IBM expects to finish interoperability qualification of these products and offer them to customers by the end of the first quarter of 2003.

Software makers aren't the only ones feverishly fanning Cisco's flames; 12 of their hardware counterparts have already signed up for interoperability testing with the MDS 9000 family. In addition to IBM, Cisco has begun working with Adaptec Inc., Advanced Digital Information Corp., BMC, EMC Corp., Emulex Corp., Hitachi Data Systems Corp., JNI Corp., Netreon Inc., QLogic Corp., StorageNetworks Inc. and Veritas.

Cisco's new product line includes the MDS 9500 Multilayer Director Series and the MDS 9216. The MDS 9500 series is modular and will be available in 6-, 9- and 13-slot versions known as the Cisco MDS 9506, 9509 and the 9513.

The MDS 9506 has 16-port, 1G bit/sec Fibre Channel capability. The MDS 9509 has 32-port, 2G bit/sec Fibre Channel capability. And the MDS 9513 is an 8-port IP storage module that supports any combination of iSCSI and FCIP protocols. Additionally, the MDS 9216 has one fixed slot containing 16 ports that have 1G bit/sec or 2G bit/sec Fibre Channel capability; the 9216 also has one expansion slot for additional ports.

The MDS 9000 series features 1.44T bit/sec Fibre Channel capability. It supports up to 256 ports per switch and up to 768 ports per rack.

Let us know what you think about the story. E-mail Kevin Komiega, News Writer

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

HP to sell Cisco storage switches

IBM to resell Cisco storage switches

Yankee Group's Gruener predicts storage management industry consolidation, Cisco boost in FC switching

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