Startup enters FC switch market

Startup enters FC switch market

By Dave Simpson

At this month`s Networld+ Interop show, startup SanCastle Technologies Inc. jumped into the nascent--and crowded--market for Fibre Channel switches. The company plans to go toe-to-toe with established switch vendors such as Ancor Communica-tions, Brocade Communi- cations, Gadzoox Networks, McData, StorageTek, and Vixel. And the market is expected to eventually include network giants such as Cisco, Lucent, Nortel, and 3Com (which recently entered, and then withdrew, from the market).

At N+I, SanCastle demonstrated an eight-port switch, which goes into beta next month, with general availability slated for September. A 64-port implementation is expected in the first quarter of next year.

The startup plans to differentiate its switches with a non-blocking, high bandwidth, low latency architecture based on its own ASIC designs. The 8-port switch has 16Gbit bandwidth; the 64-port version will have 128Gbit bandwidth.

Another potential differentiating factor is that SanCastle`s ASICs are designed to support not only Fibre Channel, but also protocols such as Gigabit Ethernet (in the 8-port switch) and ATM (in the 64-port switch).

"You`ll be able to connect a LAN backbone to a SAN [storage area network] backbone through our switches, as well as SAN to SAN," says Mitch Levy, SanCastle president.

List price for the company`s 8-port switch is expected to be less than $1,000 per port.

SanCastle plans to distribute initially through OEMs and, eventually, direct to end-users. Five unnamed OEMs are currently beta testing the switch.

SanCastle was founded in mid-1998 by Levy, Jacob Herbst and Moshe Czeiger. The company currently has 12 employees (10 in Haifa), and expects to have 30 by the end of the year. SanCastle recently completed a $4 million second round of financing.

According to International Data Corp., a market research firm in Framingham, MA, the market for Fibre Channel switches is expected to grow from less than $100 million last year to around $200 million this year.

This article was originally published on May 01, 1999