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Cisco signed a deal the week of April 24 with distributor Tech Data to bring its storage area network family of products to market, a shift in the vendor’s strategy.

Cisco will distribute its MDS 9000 Family of SAN line to a limited number of ATPs (Advanced Technology Partners) through Tech Data, leveraging the distributor’s access to the product, relationships with third-party application providers, support and proof of concept testing, officials from both companies said.

Tech Data will offer Cisco’s entire line of MDS 9000 fabric switches, multilayer fabric switches and directors.

These products are available to authorized Cisco ATP Partners when sold in conjunction with qualifying network hosted or network-assisted intelligent applications using the Cisco SSM (Storage Solution Module) in the MDS platform.

The distributor also plans to broaden its storage solutions offering by expanding recruitment of storage software application developers, enabling resellers to deliver a greater range of versatile storage solutions to their user customers.

The strategy marks a shift from Cisco’s previous strategy to take SAN lines to market through partnerships with vendors such as Hewlett Packard and IBM, who layered the technology into their own lines.

The new strategy drives Cisco’s goal to embed security and storage in the network, a policy that may alienate some vendors who may also be competitive in the space, said Susheel Chitre, manager of Business Development for Cisco’s Storage and Optical Worldwide Channels.

To read more about Cisco’s new channel strategy to emphasize security capabilities in the network and the channel, click here.

The new strategy provides SAN as a platform for third-party application parties’ application builder to layer storage into the network to be distributed by ATPs.

Partnering with Tech Data allows those ATPs, typically smaller than Cisco’s previous vendor partners, to leverage the distributors technical staff and demonstration center for proof of concept testing, said Chitre and Donna Turgeon, Tech Data’s Networking Product Marketing director.

Tech Data added two SAN experts to the staff to support the effort, Turgeon said.

Six ATP partners have signed on already and Cisco aims to incorporate no more than 50, Chitre said.