Voltaire Switches Gears in Cisco's War

Voltaire wants to woo Cisco's disgruntled server partners with new 10-Gbit/s Ethernet switches.
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Updated from 8:40 a.m. EDT

Switch maker

Voltaire

(VOLT) - Get Report

is overhauling its product strategy in the wake of rival

Cisco's

(CSCO) - Get Report

entry

into the server market.

The Billerica, Mass.-based firm has traditionally sold InfiniBand-based switches, but it is now planning its first 10-Gbit/s Ethernet offerings in an attempt to claw share from Cisco's Nexus switch.

Voltaire told

TheStreet.com

that the launch of Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) has completely changed the dynamic of the

tech

market. By selling servers, Cisco has issued a challenge to its long-standing partners like

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

and

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

, according to Asaf Somekh, Voltaire's vice president of marketing.

"With that recent Cisco move, they created a great opportunity for us," said Somekh, explaining that Cisco partners such could be on the lookout for a networking buddy.

"It became clear that once Cisco became a server company, the server companies would not sit idle," he added. "We see it as an all-out war here between the server companies and Cisco."

Whereas InfiniBand offers high performance, 10-Gbit/s Ethernet is aimed at firms connecting large numbers of servers across multiple data centers and represents a change in direction for Voltaire.

"These are high-density switches, large switches that go into the heart of the data center," said Somekh. "Customers can choose based on their performance requirements if they want to use our InfiniBand product or our Ethernet product."

The switch specialist will not, however, launch its first 10-Gbit/s Ethernet products until later this year, and it plans to announce its pricing in the summer.

There could be method in Voltaire's madness, though. IBM, for example, recently

announced

a deeper distribution deal for

Brocade's

(BRCD)

routers and switches in what was seen as a shot across the bows of Cisco. H-P has already taken a retaliatory strike at Cisco with the launch of its

BladeSystem Matrix

, which it is touting as a "data center in a box."

Like Cisco's UCS, the Matrix is also a blade-based system with built-in virtualization, underlining the shifting nature of the tech landscape.

Cisco's entry into the server market has already prompted a

war of words

with H-P. Traditionally, Cisco had focused its energies on networking technology such as switches and routers, although the firm is now seeking out new revenue streams. H-P, on the other hand, has started to extend its own reach beyond PCs and servers into the networking arena with its ProCurve line.

Cisco, which reports its

third-quarter results

after the market closes Wednesday, declined to comment on Voltaire's switch strategy.

Voltaire's shares were flat at $2.50 in Tuesday trading, while the Nasdaq fell 0.54%.