iSCSI: Brocade scoops up Silverback

Posted on January 11, 2007

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By Dave Simpson

—Continuing its moves into the iSCSI market, Fibre Channel stalwart Brocade this week acquired privately held Silverback Systems for an undisclosed amount of cash. Silverback manufactures iSCSI ASICs, host bus adapters (HBAs), development kits, and software, primarily targeted at resellers and OEMs, which accelerate storage traffic over IP networks. The products fall into the iSNAP product family, which includes the iSNAP 2110 processor and iSNAP 2110 initiator HBA.

Does this mark Brocade's entry into the HBA market? "We're not interested in the HBA market per se, but Silverback's ASICs can be used in a lot of different products [such as switches, directors, and routers]," says Dan Crain, Brocade's chief technology officer. "Silverback's Ethernet acceleration technology is a very good fit with where we're going with file area networks, iSCSI, and distance extension." For information on FANs, see "Welcome to the file area network (FAN)".

In addition to devices such as switches and routers, Silverback's iSCSI ASICs can be used in devices such as target disk arrays, NAS appliances, and blade servers.

However, Brocade does not plan to make specific product announcements related to Silverback's technology until about the middle of the year, according to Crain.

Silverback currently has OEM/reseller agreements with vendors such as Network Appliance, Montilio, and Qsan Technology, as well as a number of unannounced partnerships.

Silverback's iSCSI ASICs and HBAs currently run at 1Gbps, although 10Gbps versions are under development.

Silverback had secured about $51 million in funding, and has 38 employees.

Brocade officials said that the Silverback acquisition "represents one in a series of steps Brocade will take in the coming months" to expand and diversify its product lines, and the acquisition was Brocade's third over the last year. In March 2006 Brocade acquired NuView, a vendor of file management software (see "Brocade branches out"). And in August 2006, Brocade announced an agreement to acquire McData (see "Brocade to acquire McData"), an acquisition that hasn't been finalized yet.

The Brocade-Silverback acquisition is only the latest sign that iSCSI may finally be making its way into the mainstream. In a recent end-user poll conducted by Peripheral Concepts, 37% of the 5,000 sites surveyed have implemented iSCSI, compared to only 20% a year ago.

And in a recent InfoStor QuickVote reader poll, 30% of the participants had already deployed iSCSI, 18% plan to do so in the next six months, and another 17% plan to roll out an iSCSI-based IP SAN in 6 to 12 months. The remaining 35% had no plans to use iSCSI.

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