The storage networking vendor updated its product platform to 16 Gbps Fibre Channel this week, including a switch that supports FC and 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) ports to give it what QLogic calls “dual personalities.” QLogic also launched its 8300 Series Converged Network Adapter (CNA) that supports Ethernet, Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and iSCSI, and the 2600 Series 16 Gbps FC HBA.
The Universal Access Point 5900 (UA5900) can be configured to run 16 Gbps Fibre Channel or 10 GbE traffic. Customers can start with 24 device ports and grow to 68 ports by adding licenses. Four of the ports can be used as 64 Gbps Fibre Channel trunking ports, and the switches can stack to 300 device ports. The UA5900 can be a Fibre Channel or Ethernet edge switch, and — with a Converged Networking license – it can serve as a top-of-rack FCoE switch to compete with Brocade’s 8000 and Cisco’s 5548UP devices.
QLogic also said it would bring out an intelligent storage router – called the iSR6200 – with support for Fibre Channel, FCoE and iSCSI. The router is designed for SAN-over-WAN connectivity.
The UA5900 and adapters are expected to ship through QLogic’s OEM and channel partners in early 2012, with the iSR6200 expected late next year.
QLogic was one of Cisco’s early allies in delivering FCoE gear years ago, and is on its third generation of converged networking devices. But FCoE has gained little adoption and Fibre Channel isn’t going away. QLogic execs say they expect Fibre Channel to remain strong while FCoE is a longer term item for many organizations. “We expect over the longer period, FCoE will gain momentum,” QLogic director of product marketing Craig Alesso said. “But Fibre Channel is still the workhorse for most enterprises.”
When FCoE does gain momentum, what role will hardware adapters play? Intel has launched software FCoE initiators that use host processing power and work with any network adapters. Intel’s plan is to eliminate the need for CNAs, but Alesso said QLogic’s adapters will have a big role in running FCoE. He maintains that CNAs are better suited for I/O processing and server CPUs should be used for applications.
“People can run FCoE initiators, but there’s a [performance] cost,” he said. “We free up servers to do what customers want to do with servers – run multiple virtual machines and multiple applications. The CPU should be used for running applications, not the I/O. We should run the I/O. Also, with [software] initiators, you lose management. You don’t have the common look and feel among management utilities.”]]>
Canacord Genuity financial analyst Paul Mansky raised the issue again today when he put out a report suggesting that Dell may be ready to drop as much as $5.5 billion on Brocade. Mansky wrote the acquisitions of EqualLogic, Compellent and Perot Systems gave Dell storage, servers and services but left it without the networking piece of the IT stack. Outside of some low-end Ethernet switches it develops, Dell gets most of its networking devices through OEM deals with Brocade and Juniper Networks.
Dell is looking to move from a PC-centric company to an enterprise player. “ … given [that] networking will most likely be among the most critical sources of intelligence helping to re-shape the horizontal/physical layers into a virtual/vertical stack, not owning this [networking] technology puts Dell at risk of simply hopping from one commoditized business into another,” Mansky wrote.
Mansky maintains Brocade is the right target for Dell because Juniper is mostly a service provider and that is not Dell’s business, while other alternatives such as Extreme Networks and Force 10 don’t have enough market share to be worthwhile. Brocade is also the only vendor among those to have a foothold in storage. “Brocade owns Fibre Channel (70% share), exceptionally tight support for which is a must (our view) in a converged world,” Mansky wrote. “Net, Fibre Channel is high ROI, legacy Ethernet is low investment and converged products (recently introduced) are the growth engine.”
Mansky believes Dell should act now as the PC market is expected to decline at a faster rate and Dell has $7 billion in cash. He said a price of $10 per share is possible for Brocade, bringing the deal to $5.5 billion.
There is a risk for any storage vendor that buys Brocade. Such a deal could prompt competitors to push sales of Cisco FC switches, taking away much of Brocade’s revenue. A year ago, that risk was less for Dell because its partner EMC could be counted on to continue to support Brocade as well as Cisco. But the EMC-Dell storage partnership has fallen apart and EMC is a close ally of Cisco. However, as Mansky pointed out, Cisco has angered IBM and Hewlett-Packard (as well as Dell) by getting into the server business. That makes those vendors more likely to stick with Brocade for its storage products, which make up most of its revenue.]]>
The deal is expected to close next month. The Emulex shares would be worth $81 million using Friday’s closing price of $10.11.
Emulex sold ServerEngines silicon with its OneConnect Universal Converged Network Adapters (UCNAs) adapters for the past two years as part of an OEM and joint development deal between the two. ServerEngines contributed the Ethernet and iSCSI portions of the ASICs for the converged adapters.
Emulex CEO Jim McCluney says ServerEngines gave Emulex a fast path to combining Etherent with its own Fibre Channel stack, and now that the UCNAs are coming to market it makes sense to bring the technology in-house. That gives Emulex more control of the technology.
“We saw this as a new game where the old rules didn’t apply,” McCluney said of converged networking. “Instead of repurposing our Fibre Channel ASICS, we wanted to do something unique. We went out and found best of breed 10-gigabit ASIC to combine with our own Fibre Channel stack.We felt the time was right to take things to the next level.”
ServerEngines has two main product families — the BladeEngine 10-GigE ASICs that Emulex uses in OneConnect, and a Pilot family of server management controllers soled by Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, NEC, and Unisys. McCluney said the Pilot products will bring Emulex around $4 million in revenues each quarter.
ServerEngines has about 170 employees, mostly engineers based in Sunnyvale, CA, Austin, TX, and Hyderabad, India.]]>
During Cisco’s earnings call Wednesday night, CEO John Chambers said storage product revenue grew 100% year-over-year to $140 million last quarter. One Wall Street analyst says Cisco clearly won market share from its rival Brocade in Fibre Channel switching, and he credits the VCE partnership for that.
“How is it possible that Cisco’s MDS 9513 gained share despite an oversubscribed backplane and generally being considered an inferior product compared to the Brocade’s DCX?” Wedbush Securities analyst Kaushik Roy wrote today in a research note. “Our checks indicate that Cisco is seeing a significant uptick in the sales of MDS and Nexus products, largely due to its VCE (VMware-Cisco-EMC) partnership. Customers who in the past have avoided buying Cisco’s MDS products are now willing to accept Cisco’s MDS due to EMC’s blessing as part of the VCE’s vBbock bundle.“
Comments from Chambers on Cisco’s call appear to agree with Roy’s assessment, except for the part about the oversubscribed backplane and the DCX’s superiority.
“Our architectural sales approach is rapidly not only gaining traction but accelerating,” Chambers said. “This is different than the standalone product approach of our competition. … Vblock sales pull Nexus, UCS, VMware and EMC sales. Key takeaway: Cisco’s momentum in the data center is rapidly accelerating.”
Roy also thinks budding Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) adoption is helping Cisco. He estimates that one-third of Nexus switches are used for FCoE. That’s mostly on the server rather than the storage side. He also believes 10-Gigabit Ethernet is pushing many enterprises to file-based rather than block-based storage.
According to Roy, Brocade will announce new 64-port cards for its DCX switches and next-generation FCoE converged network adapters at its June 9 Technology Day, and is working on a 10-GigE CNA mezzanine card and blade server switch with 10-GigE and 8 Gbps Fibre Channel ports.
He also says Brocade is working on 16 Gbps Fibre Channel switches for 2011 release, and Cisco will upgrade its MDS 9513 director switch with an improved backplane to eliminate the need for oversubscription later this year.]]>
Fibre Channel Industry Association
Despite the rise of iSCSI and the emergence of 10-gigabit Ethernet, enhanced Ethernet and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) is charging ahead on its road map for at least the next decade.
The FC storage networking vendors who make up the FCoE say 16 Gbps FC products are just around the corner, with demonstrations anticipated by fall SNW, a 16-gig plugfest by the end of this year and shipping products by late 2011 or early 2012. The FCIA roadmap also calls for 32 Gbps devices by late 2014.
And it won’t stop there. QLogic director of technology Skip Jones, who chairs the FCIA, says the goal is for 1 Tbps FC interswitch links (ISL) by around 2000.
Jones also says the FCIA is committed to optimizing FC’s role in emerging FCoE technology although he says FCoE so far is mostly hype that has created “a trough of disillusionment that’s bigger than the Grand Canyon,” Jones said. “We’re pushing storage networks, regardless of how you pipe them. We want to see a good user experience.”
The FCIA is also working on a projected proposal called FC-SCM (simplified configuration and management), which includes a limited set of capabilities aimed at making FC easier to manage for remote offices.
One FC roadmap has hit a dead end, though. Development of FC disk drives has stopped at 4 Gbps. “That’s becoming uninteresting to us,” Jones said. “What we care about is having more spindles to manage.”
Sepaton’s backup boxes have been virtual tape libraries (VTL) from day one, meaning they use Fibre Channel connectivity and sell primarily to enterprises. But that could be changing with the vendor’s embracing of Symantec’s NetBackup OpenStorage (OST) API. Symantec hasn’t certified Sepaton’s OST support yet, but Sepaton did a demonstration at Symantec Vision this week running backups directly to disk without tape emulation by using OST on a S2100-E2 VTL running DeltaStor deduplication software.
Sepaton VP of worldwide marketing Jay Kramer says OST support will open the door for Sepaton to run over 10-Gigabit Ethernet, and eventually NFS and CIFS NAS protocols.
“OST is a great complementary technology to the direction we’re going,” Kramer said. “OST treats disk as disk, rather than as a tape cartridge. This is a start for us to move to open formats, and we have other things coming.”
Kramer says Sepaton still expects a strong demand for FC VTLs, but NAS support will make it more competitive with EMC’s Data Domain in midrange shops. Data Domain’s NAS interface is one reason it has dominated that market.
Kramer says he’s not impressed with Data Domain’s new Global Deduplication Array, calling it a “bolt-on” product and pointing out that Sepaton supports eight clustered nodes with full dedupe and replication. Data Domain’s GDA clusters two nodes through OST.
While Ocarina Networks is known as a primary data deduplication vendor, its vice president of products Carter George says there are customers using Ocarina for backup. George also said Ocarina is pursuing OEM deals with major vendors to use Ocarina reduction technology in NAS, iSCSI and object storage array systems, as well as on backup appliances.
“Our strategy is to get our stuff built into end user products,” George says.
While tape vendors are pitching their medium as the best way to archive, CommVault direct of cloud solutions Jeff Echols says tape will get a run for its money from the cloud.
Echols says a good deal of the interest in CommVault’s Cloud Connector option is from customers looking to archive data.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest in archiving to the cloud instead of tape,” Echols said. “Long-term, this is going to be real interesting for tape.”
Avere CEO Ron Bianchini says he misread the market when first launching his tiered NAS systems last year, but he doesn’t regret it.
Avere first came to market with two boxes containing SAS and flash solid state drives (SSDs) last year, and planned to follow with a bigger version of those systems. But Bianchini says talking to early customers and potential customers changed his mind, and the FXT 2700 that Avere came out with in January consisted of only SSD and RAM without any spinning disk.
“About 85 percent of the people we talked to already have Fibre Channel spindles and the system runs great the first and second months of the quarter, and rolls over and dies in the last month when orders come flooding in,” he said. “They wanted only SSDs to improve performance. I went to market expecting to sell one thing and got pulled in a completely different direction.”
Bianchini says Avere will issue a software upgrade this year improving its management features and user interface.
LSI demonstrated new software capabilities for its MegaRAID SAS controllers to optimize performance of direct attached storage (DAS) systems running SSDs. FastPath is designed to improve transactional application throughput to up to 150,000 IOPS while CacheCade is tiering software that turns SSD into a secondary tier of cache to improve transactional I/O performance. LSI claims CacheCade will significantly improve performance of OLTP and server workloads, and other read-sensitive applications.]]>
Brocade reported $97.1 million in revenue from Ethernet switches last quarter, down 26% from the previous quarter. That caused Brocade’s overall revenue of $539.5 million to fall below its previous forecast, despite a 16% increase in revenue from its core Fibre Channel storage equipment business.
The Ethernet sales dip came in a quarter when competitors Cisco, Juniper, and Hewlett-Packard’s ProCurve platform increased revenue in network switches.
Brocade executives blamed lower sales to the federal government and poorer sales through its new Ethernet OEM deals with IBM and Dell for the downfall. They said they will put more sales people on the Ethernet side to help drive demand, rather than leaving it to the OEMs.
“We don’t need to do a research project on what happened and why,” Brocade CEO Mike Klayko said during the vendor’s earnings call. “We know what to do and we’ve taken immediate actions to get our Ethernet business back on track. … Experience is a valuable teacher, and we’ve learned a valuable lesson here.”
Several Wall Street analysts downgraded Brocade’s stock price today, both because of the results and lack of confidence in the vendor’s plan to improve.
“We are frustrated with Brocade’s results, not just government Ethernet switching, but also the clear market share losses in enterprise and persistent declines in service provider Ethernet switching, as well as what we consider a lack of definitive color with the company’s strategic direction toward a recovery going forward,” Aaron Rakers of Stifel Nicolaus wrote today in a note to clients explaining his downgrade of Brocade.
For storage customers, the big issue is whether a concentration on Ethernet will cause a lapse of concentration on the Fibre Channel side. Brocade took share on the FC side from Cisco last quarter, but it’s storage growth was likely a bit below the industry at large and its HBA revenue is negligible more than a year after it moved into that product area. Klayko said on the earnings call that a concentration on Ethernet sales will likely cause “greater normal seasonal declines in our SAN business over the next few quarters.”
Still, Klayko says having an Ethernet switching portfolio has helped the storage business by letting customers lay a foundation for the converged networks expected to emerge over the next five years or so. He also says it’s mandatory for a storage networking vendor to have both Ethernet and Fibre Channel “or you are just going to get put into a box as a point solution.”
Overall, Brocade’s revenue increased increasing 3.4% sequentially and 25% year-over-year, and it earned $51.1 million in profit for the quarter.
Klayko says he has no regrets about the decision to spend billions on Foundry.
“Would I make the same decision today?” Klayko said. “The answer is yes. The customers we talk to today do want to have an end-to-end solution. There is a tremendous amount of change going on in the data center right now as customers are trying to figure out how to handle this explosive growth not only in just data, but in networking traffic. And if you don’t have the entire product portfolio, I think you are disadvantaged. And so strategically, it is the right decision.”
Not all financial analysts are down on Brocade. According to a note issued today by Wedbush analyst Kaushik Roy: “It may not happen overnight but we believe that the management will be able to fix the sales issues and put Foundry/IP business back on track. While it is true that Brocade lost market share in the IP/Ethernet market in the past quarter, we believe that the market share gain story is yet to be played out.”]]>
So today’s news that HP is now selling QLogic 8 Gbps 5800V and 5802V stackable switches under the HP brand as the HP SN6000 certainly is no surprise. One Silicon Valley blog directly linked the announcement with Cisco’s decision to drop HP as a certified channel partner in April.
While the rift between Cisco and HP is real, the direct link between QLogic and Cisco here is probably exaggerated a bit. The SN6000 is a FC edge switch, and Cisco doesn’t even have an 8 Gbps FC edge switch. Cisco’s bread-and-butter in the FC space is the MDS9000 director, and QLogic doesn’t sell director switches. HP’s new QLogic switches are really an alternative to edge switches from Brocade, which HP continues to offer through its long-standing OEM deal.
But the OEM deal opens the door for QLogic – predominantly a FC HBA vendor – as a switch player. HP StorageWorks product manager Charles Vallhonrat says the QLogic switches have been qualified on all HP storage systems. The 20-port switches can be stacked without requiring dedicated ports for inter-switch links (ISLs), making it easier and less expensive to expand. Vallhonrat says he expects customers who want to start small and grow their SANs will prefer the QLogic switches.
“I think it will be driven by customers’ growth needs,” he said. “They don’t have to buy everything up front. We have Brocade customers who want to buy 40 ports or 80 ports to start, and we have a switch for that. If they want to grow as they go along, this [QLogic] is an ideal product for that.”
As for Cisco’s dumping HP as a partner, Vallhonrat said “from the storage level, we’re moving forward with Cisco as well as other partners.”
HP’s new FC switch follows its release of two low-end storage systems earlier this week – the next generation of its entry level MSA and LeftHand iSCSI platforms. But HP had bad news for storage when it reported earnings Wednesday. During an otherwise good quarter, storage sales declined 3% year-over-year and sequentially, including what CEO Mark Hurd called “very mediocre” sales of its midrange EVA systems.
Hurd says HP did well with its LeftHand and direct attached storage, but not its midrange and higher-end systems. But he insists storage is a priority.
“We have our top guys working on it,” Hurd said when asked what he’s doing to jump start the storage business. “We believe we now have a better lineup than we have had before and we believe we have a team that’s capable of helping us build the answer.”
That storage team is now led by Dave Donatelli, who jumped from EMC to HP last year. HP is expected to upgrade the EVA this year, and its XP enterprise storage platform is also due for a refresh. All of which means it’s worth keeping a close watch on HP in 2010.]]>
First, the deal means HP won’t be buying Brocade – at least not any time soon. HP was considered the most likely company to buy Brocade after word leaked that Brocade was looking for a buyer last month. It appears that HP did consider it – HP executive VP Dave Donatelli said on a webcast explaining the 3Com acquisition that HP looked at all networking options – but decided 3Com’s Ethernet switches and routers were a better fit than the products that Brocade picked up from Foundry.
The 3Com acquisition also means HP won’t follow the lead of IBM and Dell and sign an OEM deal with Brocade for its Ethernet switches. With 3Com’s products and its own ProCurve platform, HP should have enough to fill out its Ethernet lineup.
The deal won’t impact Brocade’s core business – selling Fibre Channel switches. With Cisco and Brocade as its only options, HP will likely continue to lean heavily on Brocade for storage connectivity.
Still, the HP-3Com deal is seen as bad news for Brocade. Several Wall Street analysts downgraded its stock price today, and its shares dropped more than a dollar in early trading from Wednesday’s closing price of $9.25.
While talk of Brocade getting acquired has diminished, Wedbush Securities analyst Kaushik Roy raised the possibility that networking vendor Juniper might want Brocade to create “an even more formidable competitor to Cisco.”
“We think that neither Dell nor IBM would be interested in buying Brocade due to Brocade’s OEM model,” Roy wrote today in a note to clients. “Any purchase by one of the server vendors would lead to loss of revenue streams from the other server OEM vendors. We, however, think that Brocade might be a good acquisition target for Juniper.”]]>
Emulex said the OneConnect adapters it first talked about in February are available for partners to ship, and IBM has agreed to OEM its 10-GigE NIC and 16 Gbps Fibre Channel HBAs with the Power Systems server platform.
Emulex is taking a different path than its main rival QLogic, which already has several partners selling its single-chip 8100 Series CNAs. Emulex is releasing its 10-GigE adapter first with TCP/IP and TCP Chimney support, and hopes to deploy a pay-as-you-go strategy where customers will later upgrade with iSCSI and FCoE connectivity. Emulex gets its 10-GigE silicon through an OEM deal with ServerEngines.
Emulex is counting on 10-GigE and Intel’s Nehalem servers driving convergence, with storage connectivity to follow.
“We’ve taken an Ethernet approach rather than a storage-centric approach,” Emulex VP of corporate marketing Shaun Walsh told StorageSoup. He says the Emulex approach lets customers pay for only 10-GigE first, instead of having to pay for FC connectivity they might not use yet.
“Every NIC card has the potential to be an FCoE card,” Emulex CEO Jim McCluney said during his analyst day presentation.
Emulex customer Lars Linden, SVP of data center services for Royal Bank of Scotland, spoke at the analyst day to express his eagerness for a converged network. Linden said convergence will eventually help him simplify management, reduce cables and increase utilization, adding that it can’t arrive soon enough for him. He says he RBS spends about $500,000 a year on cabling.
“I have people on staff who do nothing but cabling all day long,” he said. “They’re very clever people and I would like to have them do higher value activity, but this is table stakes for running a data center. As soon as there is a commercially available set of capabilities and technologies supporting convergence, there will be a rapid adoption.”
Linden compared the eventual move to consolidated networks to virtualization as a “game changer” technology.
Nobody expects 16-gig FC any time soon, despite Emulex’s touted design win. Emulex executives acknowledged the market moved to 8-gig FC much slower than it went from 2-gig to 4-gig FC so there’s no hurry to push out 16-gig products.
“This is a future announcement,” McCluney said. “We’re not going to see any 16-gig revenue for quite some time.”
The suspicion here is that Emulex and IBM announced the 16-gig FC design win to end speculation that QLogic might replace Emulex FC HBAs on the Power Series after securing a CNA OEM win with IBM last week. Emulex is IBM’s exclusive partner for 4-gig and 8-gig HBAs on the Power Series.
“We believe investors may have questions regarding QLogic’s recent announcement that its FCoE CNAs had been qualified within IBM’s System p (Unix) server platforms given that Emulex has long been the sole-source provider of FC HBAs into these IBM server platforms,” Stifel Nicolaus Equity Research analyst Aaron Rakers wrote in a note to clients after the Emulex analyst day.]]>
IBM’s p Series servers run Unix and Linux operating systems. QLogic reps are crowing over the design win because it comes in its biggest rival’s backyard. IBM ships Emulex Fibre Channel HBAs exclusively with its p series, but has gone to its rival for FCoE adapters. Satish Lakshmanan, QLogic’s director of product marketing for host solutions, says QLogic’s is the only CNA that will ship with the IBM p series.
The 8142 is part of QLogic’s 8100 Series single-chip CNA platform that handles 10-Gigabit Ethernet traffic and has an integrated FCoE offload engine.
“This gives them a foot in the door in the p series,” Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Bob Laliberte said of QLogic.
Laliberte says the long-time FC HBA rivals have taken different paths in the early days of converged networking, with QLogic racking FCoE design wins while Emulex picks up 10-Gigabit Ethernet wins with its universal converged network adapters (UCNAs).
“QLogic was first to market with a single-chip architecture for FCoE that’s dramatically lower in power consumption, footprint and heat,” Laliberte said. “Being first out of the gate gives them a chance to get design wins in FCoE. Emulex is going in a different direction. You see Emulex getting wins for 10-gigE and down the road partners have an option to turn on FCoE.”
“This isn’t the only customer we’ve swiped away,” Lakshmanan said. “There’s more that will be coming.”
NetApp said in August that it would rebrand QLogic’s 8152 CNA as a built-in adapter for its FAS storage arrays. NetApp also qualified Brocade’s 1020 CNA but not Emulex’s yet.
IBM also sells QLogic’s 8100 CNAs on its System x and BladeCenter servers, and EMC qualified QLogic’s CNA on its Symmetrix, Clariion and Celerra NS storage platforms.
These are still early days for FCoE and converged adapters, though. Widspread adoption of FCoE on servers isn’t expected before 2011 and it will likely take years after that for it to show up in any volume on the storage side.]]>