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A financial analyst has started a feud between networking giants Cisco and Brocade by dubbing the Cisco MDS 9000 a switch of ill repute.

Earlier this week, Merrill Lynch analyst John Roy issued a glowing note on Brocade and slammed rival and SAN upstart Cisco. Roy upped Brocade to a Buy rating, saying it has a strong product line-up which stacked up well against Cisco and McData. The analyst's rating sent Brocade's shares up 20 percent.

It was, however, a comment on the Cisco MDS9000 Fibre Channel switch - known as Andiamo -that has stirred trouble between the two vendors.

"We believe Cisco's Andiamo has some issues to be resolved before widespread adoption is possible," Roy wrote. "We understand that while the switch works, its error rate is much higher than Brocade's or McData's. It seems that the active cross bar could be crossing frames to arrive out of order. While the system will recover via SCSI retry, performance takes a major hit."

In this statement, Roy seems both somewhat tech savvy and then altogether not. He points to a nice technical detail that could slow Cisco's push into Fibre Channel but uses a lot of "we believes" and "understand thats" along the way.

His lack of clarity on the origin of the details could be because Brocade fed the information to him, according to Byte and Switch .

The online storage mag reports that Brocade has confirmed its deposit of some Cisco data with Merrill's Roy. The company stands by its assertion that the product has flaws.

Cisco has a different opinion. "We'll take the high road and assume it's a misunderstanding of our architecture," Paul Dul, product line manager for the MDS 9000 told Byte and Switch.

It's unclear how far the feud will go, but things are certainly heating up in the SAN (storage area networking) market. There's good money in Fibre Channel, and Cisco needs to expand. One bad analyst note shouldn't slow it down too much. ®

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