EMC (NYSE: EMC) has struck a deal to offer QLogic (NASDAQ: QLGC) stackable Fibre Channel switches, while rival NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP) is moving ahead with its plans for Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE).
The EMC deal is the second big win in a month for QLogic's stackable Fibre Channel switches, following an OEM deal with HP (NYSE: HPQ) last month.
QLogic's 5800V Series 8Gb Fibre Channel stackable switches will be offered through the EMC Select program, rather than rebranded as EMC Connectrix products, as EMC does with Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Brocade (NASDAQ: BRCD) switches. The QLogic switches have been qualified for EMC's Symmetrix V-Max and DMX, Clariion CX4 and AX4, and Celerra NS storage arrays.
Stifel Nicolaus analyst Aaron Rakers called the deal "a modestly positive announcement for QLogic; largely reflective of an upgrade of the existing relationship that included the company's 16-port 4Gbps FC stackable switches."
Coupled with the HP announcement, Rakers said QLogic may be "poised to gain share in the SAN switching market going forward as HP looks to diversify its SAN switching OEM partnerships beyond Brocade and Cisco."
Jesse Parker, vice president and general manager of QLogic's Network Solutions Group, and Steve Zivanic, the company's senior director of corporate marketing, said QLogic has gained in edge switching as Cisco and Brocade fight over the core storage networking market.
They also said that Cisco's move into the server market and Brocade's move into data networking have placed them into greater competition with customers like HP, opening the door for new suppliers like QLogic.
Zivanic added that stackable switches, long accepted in local area networks (LANs), are finally catching on in storage area networks (SANs). "I think you're going to start seeing a shift in the SAN area, just as you did in the LAN area," he said.
Wikibon analyst Dave Vellante cited other reasons for the emergence of stackable switches: lower cost, less complexity, higher port counts and easier management. "CTOs should give serious consideration to stackable switches, as we believe they are a more cost-effective and smarter approach to storage networks," Vellante said in a statement.
The 5800V Series switches include dedicated 10Gb Fibre Channel stacking ports, which can be upgraded to 20Gb performance, preserving 8Gb Fibre Channel ports for device connectivity.
EMC also offers QLogic's 3810 entry-level 8Gb Fibre Channel switches, 5602 4Gb Fibre Channel stackable switches, and the Enterprise Fabric Manager software suite.
NetApp Taps Emulex, Brocade and VMware for FCoE
NetApp, meanwhile, built on its early lead in the FCoE market with new partnerships with Emulex (NYSE: ELX), VMware (NYSE: VMW) and Brocade.
NetApp will begin reselling a new converged network adapter (CNA) from Emulex, and is an early supporter of VMware vSphere 4 in an FCoE host environment.
In addition to offering Brocade's CNAs, FCoE blade for the DCX, and the top-of-rack 8000 FCoE switch, NetApp is also introducing a Data Center Bridging (DCB) version of the Brocade 8000.
The CNA win is the latest for Emulex after a slow start in the FCoE market.
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