IBM Embraces FCoE, Converged Data Center Networks

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IBM (NYSE: IBM) will use Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) adapter technology from Brocade (NASDAQ: BRCD) and QLogic (NASDAQ: QLGC) as it equips its servers for converged data center networks.

IBM will use PCIe-based CNAs from Brocade and QLogic in its System x servers and QLogic mezzanine CNAs in IBM BladeCenter offerings, the company has confirmed.

IBM is also using the Convergence-Ready Blade Network Technology (BNT) 10Gbps 10-port switch module and the IBM 10Gbps Pass-thru module OEMed from QLogic for the IBM BladeCenter.

Nortel spin-off BNT is also reportedly at work on FCoE switches, which would give switch makers Brocade and Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) another competitor in the emerging market for storage and Ethernet network convergence.

The Brocade deal, meanwhile, is the latest win for the company with IBM against archrival Cisco. Brocade has been gaining significant market share against Cisco in the storage switch market, according to Dell’Oro Group — and some industry observers think that may be happening in part because companies like IBM and HP (NYSE: HPQ) are sending more business to Brocade in response to Cisco’s move into the server market. Brocade will announce today that HP will resell its 8000 FCoE switch.

IBM says bringing together local and storage area networks with FCoE and CEE can save as much as 50 percent on switches, adapters, cables and interconnects, plus space, power and cooling savings.

QLogic believes FCoE will begin to catch on by the end of the year, as products begin showing up in servers and storage systems.

Dell’Oro Group predicts that FCoE adapter revenue will increase by more than 200 percent a year on average from 2008 to 2013, reaching nearly $400 million, but QLogic senior director of corporate communications Steve Zivanic said that “based on our own internal estimates, we think that might be conservative.”

QLogic and Brocade competitor Emulex (NYSE: ELX) was left out of IBM’s CNA announcement, but the company did announce that its LightPulse 8Gbps Fibre Channel CIOv Expansion Card is optimized for use with IBM’s new BladeCenter HS22 blade server, and the company also announced a deal with HP for its first-generation multi-chip LP21000 CNAs.

Zivanic claims the IBM CNA omission was because Emulex won’t have a “tangible product till the end of the year.”

But Emulex disputes that claim, noting it was first to announce a single-chip CNA earlier this year.

Emulex, meanwhile, continues to fend off a hostile takeover bid from Broadcom (NASDAQ: BRCM). The two are warring over a Broadcom bid to replace Emulex’s board of directors, and Emulex has charged in a lawsuit that Broadcom is unfit to take over the company because a Broadcom co-founder and former CEO is facing drug and other charges, according to a Wall Street Journal report yesterday.

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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, 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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