Arming itself for an anticipated battle with Cisco Systems, Brocade Communications Systems has announced its intention to acquire startup Rhapsody Networks.
The stock deal is valued at $US175 million and is expected to close in January 2003. The transaction will give Brocade a new class of multi-protocol switches that can run network-based storage applications such as storage virtualisation, an area in which the company lacks expertise.
"My concern with Brocade had been that they needed more intelligence in their ports," said Arun Taneja, an analyst at Enterprise Storage Group. "The rules of the game have changed. I think this is a wonderful acquisition for Brocade and the industry."
In a statement, Greg Reyes, chairman and CEO of Brocade, explained that Rhapsody's technology and engineering team will help Brocade accelerate the next phase of the SAN market's evolution.
Brocade expects to offer the new switches, with full interoperability with Brocade's existing SilkWorm family of fibre channel switches, in the second half of next year, said Jay Kidd, director of product marketing at Brocade.
Kidd said the switches are available now from Brocade to software developers and had been available for some time from Rhapsody.
Rhapsody had been working with various partners such as StorageAge Networking Technologies, FalconStor Software and Veritas Software, which have begun developing software that would run on Rhapsody's storage application directors rather than on the individual host servers.
Unlike traditional fibre-channel switches, the new class of switches promises to centralise storage applications within the SAN itself, rather than running on the host or the storage systems.
Cisco is also building an intelligent storage switching platform with technology gained in its August acquisition of Andiamo Systems.
Cisco's acquisition of Andiamo in August was the company's foray into the fibre-channel switch market. Cisco also introduced Andiamo's products to the market under the MDS 9000 family.
Brocade intends to take on an undetermined number of the 110 employees at Rhapsody in order to finish building the platform.