Cisco is looking to improve the storage performance on IBM mainframes and third-party SAN products, with new features for its MDS 9000 storage networking product line.

The goal is to enhance security and accelerate data traffic over distances as great as 20,000 kilometres, half way around the world, said Cisco.

"By improving data security and accelerating data backup and disaster recovery, these new capabilities … help IT organizations build next generation data centers that take advantage of technologies like data replication and virtualisation and respond quickly to changing business needs," Cisco said.

Various upgrades to Cisco's MDS NX-OS software will be available to partners at the end of July, and should be available to customers in the fall from resellers such as IBM, EMC, HP and NetApp, said Bob Nusbaum, Cisco's storage networking software product line manager.

A new feature called XRC Acceleration will improve replication speed, Nusbaum says. XRC (also known as z/OS Global Mirror) is a mainframe application that replicates data across distances and is popular with financial institutions.

By buffering data at remote sites, Cisco's XRC Acceleration speeds up that replication process, he said. The feature was developed jointly by IBM and Cisco.

"This solution accelerates data traffic traveling very long distances over the wide-area network reducing bandwidth consumption and shrinking update windows, while eliminating the need for costly, separate channel extension products," said Cisco.

Cisco is also unveiling TrustSec Fibre Channel Link Encryption, designed to encrypt data travelling between datacentres, or within a datacentre to ensure safeguarding of all traffic between switches.

The encryption works both with open systems SAN products as well as IBM's FICON, a Fibre connection technology that connects mainframes to storage devices.

Another new feature is I/O Accelerator, designed for open systems rather than the mainframe. The technology speeds up disk and tape reads and writes over long distances.