Cisco enters storage networking market with router

Cisco Systems Inc. announced it is entering the network storage market Monday, unveiling a new network storage router and detailing its strategy for coming to market with the product.

Cisco’s SN 5420 Storage Router, on display at the Storage Networking World industry conference in Palm Desert, California, uses Internet protocol (IP) to allow servers to access data, rather than Fibre Channel, which is faster but works only over short distances.

The intended purpose of the router is to provide universal access to data for any device, from any source, over any distance, said Mark Cree, general manager of Cisco’s storage business unit, in a Monday teleconference.

“Those servers think they’re talking to internal disk drives … those servers are fooled into thinking its their own drive,” Cree said.

He promoted the device as a supplement to other storage devices and not a replacement, noting that Cisco is working with other storage companies like Network Appliance Inc. and EMC Corp. The SN 5420 will be available this month and sell for US$27,000, Cree said.

The router uses the iSCSI protocol, or SCSI (Small Computer Systems Interface) over IP. The standard grew from work of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) last year, Cree said. Cisco’s flavor of iSCSI used in its storage routers will remain an open standard, he said. “We are making our source code available to other vendors,” he said.

Intel Corp. also released open-source reference software Monday for vendors to develop products using the iSCSI protocol, and is leading the iSCSI working group within the IETF. Intel makes critical components for storage networking, like input-output processors, controllers for Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks (RAID) devices.

Cisco, in San Jose, Calif., can be reached at