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The movement of storage applications to the storage network switch has been gradual — some might say glacial — but it is expected to pick up steam. The first crop of switch-based applications hit the market during the second half of 2003. Consider the following:

Maxxan Systems Inc. officials debuted the MXV320 intelligent application switch in August 2003 and followed up with a second-generation platform in June. Applications include snapshot, mirroring, replication and virtualization.

Maranti Inc. officials announced the CoreSTOR network controller product line in December 2003. Applications include virtualization, mirroring, replication, volume copy and snapshot.

Late last year, storage services from IBM Corp. and Veritas Software Corp. became available for Cisco Systems Inc.'s MDS 9000 switch line. Veritas' Storage Foundation for Networks arrived on the Cisco switch in November 2003, while IBM's TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller debuted the following month.

This year, there has been a lull in activity, but some industry executives believe the market will start to sizzle in 2005.

"It's really an immature market right now, but it will move pretty quickly in about a year," said James Klazura, product manager for the Cisco MDS 9000. He said he expects much more competition and customer awareness next year.

That competition likely will be supplied by the likes of Brocade Communications Systems Inc. and McData Corp. Both companies are expected to ship switches with applications next year.

Brocade's fabric applications effort includes teaming with EMC Corp. on that company's StorageRouter product, which will provide

data migration across different classes of

storage from different vendors. The EMC product will run on Brocade's SilkWorm Fabric Application Platform. StorageRouter is slated

for availability in the first half of

next year, an EMC spokeswoman said. Veritas' Storage Foundation for Networks is also headed for the Fabric Application Platform.

A McData spokeswoman said EMC will provide the first application available for McData switches. EMC is scheduled to ship this software in the second half of 2005. The initial platform will be the i4700 Sphereon switch.

In the meantime, customers appear more interested in disaster recovery than fabric-based applications, said Steve Picot, manager of federal programs at McData. "That's basically the heavy lifting they have to accomplish first," he said.

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