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Has Cisco's storage group been benched?

Industry insiders close to Cisco Systems Inc. say the company is disorganized and as a result, its storage group has been sidelined.

To give it its due, the company is in the middle of a $7 billion acquisition of cable set-top box maker Scientific-Atlanta Inc. and major networking initiatives to dominate the enterprise; service provider; small and midsized business; security; and data center markets, all while fighting fierce competition from low-cost Chinese suppliers like Huewai. But hey guys, remember little old Fibre Channel switches? IP SANs, iSCSI…?

I e-mailed the company this week to find out what's new. A public relations spokeswoman told me that there were "no new customers to report" -- at least none that would talk to the press anyway, which put to rest the idea of any interesting case studies.

I asked what had happened to support for 4 Gbps on the MDS 9513 director, which should be shipping now and got the obligatory "no comment." Likewise, rumors that Cisco will launch a 528-port, 4 Gbps director in April were met with the same "no comment." No surprises there though.

I also found out that two of the most exciting storage-related technologies right now – wide-area file services and WAN acceleration -- are in Cisco's Application Acceleration Group. Sorry storage guys, you're just not cool enough.

Or, just not there? Since the departure of Luca Cafiero, Prem Jain and Soni Jiandani in July last year, the storage group appears to have lost momentum. These executives were major players within the company and successfully championed Cisco's storage business, such that by the fourth quarter of 2004, barely a year and a half after entering the market, Cisco and McData Corp. tied for market share leadership with 32.6%, according to the Yankee Group. But without them, who's calling the shots on what to do next in storage?

No one it seems.

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