Brocade Communications has been rumored to be on the acquisition hunt since Cisco announced its acquisition of Andiamo Systems' director-level Fibre Channel switches.Brocade Communications has been rumored to be on the acquisition hunt since Cisco announced its acquisition of Andiamo Systems' director-level\u00a0Fibre Channel switches.Last week those rumors became reality as the Fibre Channel switch vendor said it would acquire start-up Rhapsody Networks for $175 million. Rhapsody, while not having announced any products yet, is known to be making director-level switches that will host applications such as virtualization and replication software. Brocade will integrate Rhapsody's applications-based multiprotocol director-level switching technology into its corporate storage products."There is increased pressure on Brocade to do more [in this area] and accelerate its technology quickly if it is going to compete against Cisco," says Jamie Gruener, a senior analyst with The Yankee Group.Brocade leads the market in entry- and midlevel fabric switches, but trails McData and InRange in the director-level area, according to IDC. A year ago, Brocade announced a 128-port director-level switch of its own, which it shipped earlier this year and positions in this high-end market.However, sources say the company has been more concerned about the effect Cisco's entry will have on the Fibre Channel market than on shipping products into the director-level arena. Brocade's acquisition of Rhapsody, observers say, reflects a direct reaction to Cisco's entry into a market it plans to dominate.Cisco started its push into storage networking when it launched its "Storage Networking Initiative" in April 2001. In August, Cisco announced its intention to buy Andiamo, a manufacturer of storage switching products for the storage-area network (SAN) market. That same day Cisco also announced that Andiamo's family of multilayer intelligent storage switches for SANs, expected to begin shipping before year-end, will carry the Cisco brand, and be known as the MDS 9000 family."Cisco will offer incentive programs and affect when customers purchase additional storage network gear based on the fact that a lot of customers are waiting for Cisco's products to come to market and be certified with storage OEMs," Gruener says.As the result of the acquisition, Brocade will market what it calls "application switches" - Fibre Channel switches that work with software and hardware from OEMs and software vendors that allow the hosting of storage management, replication and data management applications.Brocade estimates that customers will be able to purchase products resulting from the acquisition by the end of 2003.