Cisco kisses NeoPath products goodbye

Neopath customers advised that products, support contracts and services will no longer be offered

Cisco has given notice to customers of NeoPath Networks, the file-area network (FAN) and virtualization technology company it bought last month, that NeoPath products, support contracts and professional services will no longer be offered.

When Cisco bought the company, it said it planned to add NeoPath technology to its Services Oriented Network Architecture, establishing a tighter link between file-based data and network acceleration.

Here's the message posted on NeoPath's Web site March 30:

"In connection with Cisco Systems acquisition of NeoPath Networks, we are announcing the immediate end-of-sale (EOS) of NeoPath File Director and Fileyzer product families, support contracts, and professional services.

"Customers with active NeoPath Networks service contracts (as of March 30, 2007) will continue to receive support via NeoPath's existing support processes through the remainder of the stated term of the contract. No new service contracts will be sold and existing service contracts will not be renewed or extended beyond their current expiration dates."

Despite the statement, Cisco maintains that NeoPath customers will have a lifeline for its products.

"When Cisco acquired NeoPath, the company had 34 customers," says Lee Davis, a Cisco spokesperson. "These customers have service contracts ranging from one to three years. Cisco will honor each contract for the extent of its duration.. In addition, we have started working on a case-by-case basis, contacting each of the 34 customers personally, to make sure they are taken care of and not left in a bind. Beyond that, Cisco is working with a variety of partners to set up a migration path for NeoPath customers, where appropriate."

Analysts expressed some confusion over the memo to NeoPath customers.

"Normally, if Cisco were going to put up a notice like that, they would have something ready on the other end," says Greg Schulz, senior analyst for StorageIO. "It's not uncommon at all for a vendor to say we are ceasing selling everything around a product, but only when the buyer is ready to resume sales or has some sort of stopgap plan. Something doesn't add up."

For Cisco, the acquisition of NeoPath made sense, analysts say, in that the company needed some way of rounding out its connectivity between local and remote file services. Cisco acquired wide-area file services vendors Actona in 2004 and FineGround in 2005.

Cisco has traditionally supported the links between network-attached storage and Ethernet networks with its Ethernet connectivity products. It added support for storage-area networks with its Fibre Channel switches and for servers with its Infiniband technology from TopSpin Communications.

Cisco would not commit to definite plans for the integration of NeoPath's technology.

"It's pretty early; the deal has just closed," Davis says. "The potential for the technology is wide-ranging, so there's a lot we have to work through to figure out how and where exactly it's going to be used."

In March, when Cisco acquired NeoPath, rumors flew that the cost of the acquisition was US$40 million. NeoPath declined to comment on the cost of the deal and even demanded that news sites reporting the amount of the buyout correct their stories, saying that the value of the deal was significantly more. NeoPath had raised almost US$30 million in funding.

Recently, Acopia Networks, a company that competes with NeoPath, offered NeoPath customers credits toward the purchase of Acopia's ARX appliances. The credits were for the full purchase price of the NeoPath File Director.