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Cisco Systems found itself at the heart of two announcements this week but only once by choice.

In a widely anticipated move, EMC said it will start reselling Cisco's MDS 9000 series of SAN switches later this quarter. The Cisco gear will fall into EMC's Connetrix switch line and be co-branded by both vendors. This deal adds one more major storage company to Cisco's partner list, which already includes IBM, HP and Hitachi.

The MDS 9000 is a multiprotocol device with support for Fibre Channel, Fibre Channel over IP and iSCSI. EMC's ControlCenter management software will work with the switch.

EMC is also looking to port other management software it has in store onto the product, hoping to improve the way data flows in a storage area network (SAN).

A less favorable move for Cisco came as Dell Computer announced three new switches targeted at small to medium-sized businesses - a market Dell serves well.

Dell is an upstart in the switch space but has rolled out new products at a fair pace. The PowerConnect 3324 sits on the low end at $549, followed by the $1,000 PowerConnect 3348 and the $2,000 PowerConnect 5212.

Cisco recognizes Dell as a threat to its low end business and has encouraged resellers to pay attention to small customers. It also recently refreshed the popular Catalyst 6500.

A trade show always accompanies such a flurry of switch announcements, and sure enough, it's day three of N+I . ®

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