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McData Unveils Low-End Switch That Can Grow

Sphereon arrives with 12 ports, which a user can turn on in 4-port increments.
Business-technology managers looking for Fibre Channel switches are getting more options. As the technology matures, more vendors are expanding their product lines and giving potential customers more choices at the high end and the low end of the market.

McData Corp. on Monday unveiled a low-end switch that can also scale up into the midrange space. The Sphereon 4300 arrives with 12 ports, which customers can activate four ports at a time. The switch is available now and costs $5,400 for four ports, and $6,600 for 12 ports.

The switch includes HotCat, which lets administrators upgrade the firmware, or system intelligence, while the system is online. It often requires a vendor's engineering support staff to upgrade firmware in competitors' systems. The switch also includes FlexPort Technology, which is a mix of hardware and software used to activate four, eight, or 12 ports so users are only paying for what they need.

McData is aggressively attacking the low end of the market , an analyst says, and is taking some market share away from Brocade Communications Systems Inc. Says Jamie Gruener at the Yankee Group, "A lot of customers can use McData for work groups and the enterprise."