Emulex, QLogic Battle Over Data, Storage Networking Convergence

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Emulex (NYSE: ELX) and QLogic (NASDAQ: QLGC) have stepped up their battle over converged data center networks in the last few days, announcing design wins with some of the biggest names in IT.

Emulex late last week announced its first major win for its Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) converged network adapters (CNAs), a deal to supply HP (NYSE: HPQ) with CNAs for ProLiant rack, tower and blade servers.

Emulex followed with an IBM (NYSE: IBM) deal today — the latest design win with IBM for both Emulex and QLogic — while QLogic countered with an announcement that its CNAs have been certified with Cisco’s (NASDAQ: CSCO) Unified Computing System (UCS).

CNAs are central for FCoE and the trend toward converged data and storage networks, and their long dominance in the HBAsmarket has placed Emulex and QLogic at the heart of that trend. Storage switch leader Brocade (NASDAQ: BRCD) has also tried to break into the HBA and CNA market, but has so far failed to gain much traction.

QLogic jumped out to an early lead with a number of design wins, but Emulex has countered that QLogic’s early lead doesn’t matter much in a market that won’t begin to mature for a year or more.

Shaun Walsh, Emulex’s vice president of corporate marketing, reiterated that view this week. “This market is about 10 Gigabit Ethernet first,” he told Enterprise Storage Forum.

Walsh sees companies launching FCoE pilots this year, with the “crossover point” for FCoE coming some time in 2011-2013. “It’s not going to happen overnight,” he said.

Analyst group Wikibon recently published a comparison of Emulex and QLogic CNAs that gave the early FCoE edge to QLogic.

“Wikibon believes that QLogic is currently a more enthusiastic and better partner for 2010 FCoE implementations,” the analysts concluded. “Emulex strength as a partner is heightened for 10GE implementations of NAS and iSCSI. Wikibon believes that the CNA market needs two strong CNA vendors and that QLogic and Emulex will be the primary suppliers in the near-to-mid term and perhaps beyond.”

HP will sell the Emulex CNAs as the NC550SFP Dual Port 10Gb/s Server Adapter, the StorageWorks CN1000E Dual Port Converged Network Adapter (CNA) for ProLiant rack and tower servers, and the NC550m Dual Port Flex-10 10Gb/s Ethernet Adapter for HP ProLiant blade servers. The HP CN1000E CNA can run 10Gb Ethernet and FCoE concurrently or independently on any port, allowing both server and storage traffic to run on each port with redundancy available on the second port. EMC’s OneConnect UCNA architecture offers full hardware protocol offload support for TCP/IP, iSCSI and FCoE.

IBM will use Emulex CNAs for 10Gb Ethernet integration into five server platforms, including the System x3650 M3, x3550 M3, x3850 X5, x3950 X5 and x3690 X5; and three IBM BladeCenter server platforms, including the HS22, HS22V and HX5. Big Blue is offering 10Gb/s Ethernet Virtual Fabric Adapters based on Emulex’s UCNA technology as an option card across most of its System x and BladeCenter servers, including the new eX5 servers, with FCoE and iSCSI as options.

QLogic’s 8100 Series dual-port 10GbE CNAs have been certified for interoperability for the Cisco UCS platform, and are also certified for Cisco Nexus 5000 Series FCoE switches, which are commonly deployed with the Cisco Unified Computing System.

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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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