QLogic Unveils an FC Switch for the Masses

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QLogic hopes to push storage area networks (SANs) into the small- and medium-business (SMB) market with a Fibre Channel switch that costs less than $500 per port, about half the cost of FC switches from McDATA or Brocade .

As if that weren’t enough, QLogic’s SANbox 5200 is also the first stackable Fibre Channel switch and the first to offer 10 gigabit per second (10-Gig) Fibre Channel technology. “It’s phenomenal price/performance,” says Frank Berry, QLogic’s VP of marketing.

The switch offers complete stack management from a single application and the ability to scale up to 64 ports without losing a single port to inter-switch links.

“QLogic has essentially changed the playing field with this switch,” says Nancy Marrone-Hurley, senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group. “The SANbox 5200 offers high-end features at a very low price point, and we expect QLogic will gain significant market share with this product. If the Ethernet switch analogy is applicable, this new category of stackable Fibre Channel switches should win a substantial share of the Fibre Channel switch market.”

Stackable switches already dominate the Ethernet switch market. According to the 2003 Dell’Oro Group Ethernet Switch Five-Year Forecast, more than 68 million stackable switch ports shipped into the Ethernet and LAN switch market in 2002, accounting for more than 74% of ports shipped.

FC switches are currently connected via ports, a costly approach that wastes ports. QLogic’s 10-Gig stack interconnect is the first FC switch to get around that problem, and the price and ease of use could open up new markets for SANs.

QLogic says with its easy-to-use graphical user interface (GUI), “users won’t have to hire an expensive SAN expert to manage stacks.”

The SANbox 5200 is the first FC switch to be configured and zoned with simple wizards, according to the company, and its SANsurfer Management Suite makes
stack management easy throughout the SAN lifecycle by helping users install, configure, monitor, diagnose, and upgrade from a single application.

The 5200 can scale in 4, 8, 12, and 16-port increments up to 64 ports in a single stack. Switch features can be added, changed, or deleted with non-disruptive code load and activation (NDCLA). Users also save money when building large 64-port fabrics by using 50% fewer ports than a mesh of fixed port switches.

QLogic says the switch is the first SAN product to support traffic between switches, servers, and storage at up to 10 gigabits per second. A single 10-Gig inter-switch link (ISL) ensures low latency between switches and eliminates the cost and complexity of trunking 2-Gig ports.

The 5200 is interoperable with servers, storage, and networking products from many manufacturers, including ADIC, Brocade, Cisco, Computer Associates,
Dell, EMC, Emulex, HDS, HP, IBM, LSI Logic, McDATA, Microsoft, Quantum, StorageTek, Sun, and VERITAS.

The SANbox 5200 is now sampling to OEMs, and will be available from commercial distributors in the first quarter of 2004.

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Paul Shread
Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for Time.com, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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