By Dave Simpson
-- Brocade announced today that its 10Gbps converged network adapters (CNAs) have been qualified, and are available from, EMC, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), IBM and NetApp, putting Brocade roughly on par with CNA competitors Emulex and QLogic in terms of OEM design wins. (Brocade's CNAs are still in the qualification stage at HP.)
Brocade's single-chip CNAs are available in single-port (model 1010) and dual-port (1020) versions, and support multiple protocols and standards, including Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), iSCSI, Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) or Data Center Bridging (DCB), and 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE).
According to Juan Tarrio, product marketing manager, server connectivity, Brocade hopes to differentiate its FCoE CNAs from Emulex/QLogic CNAs on the following fronts:
Performance: Based on internal tests, both Brocade and Emulex claim performance of up to one million I/Os per second (IOPS) on dual-port CNAs, but Tarrio claims that Brocade's CNAs can outperform competing CNAs in some "real world" applications.
Based on IT Brand Pulse testing (conducted at Emulex facilities), Emulex's CNAs blew away Brocade and QLogic CNAs at small block sizes (ranging from 512-byte to 2KB blocks), but the differences narrowed when tests were conducted at larger block sizes (ranging from 4KB to 256KB blocks).
In IT Brand Pulse's tests with 4KB blocks (indicative of email applications) and 8KB blocks (indicative of database applications), the performance of the Brocade and Emulex CNAs was about equal (with QLogic's CNAs not far behind).
For the full test report, see "A Brand New Day for Data Center Storage: The Sun Rises on Converged Network Adapters" on the IT Brand Pulse site.
Unified adapter/SAN management: End users can leverage Brocade's Data Center Fabric Manager (DCFM) software to manage Brocade adapters, switches and directors from a single pane of glass. (QLogic can claim the same advantage, but doesn't have the SAN switch installed base that Brocade does.) Brocade's DCFM software can be integrated with management frameworks such as VMware's vCenter (via the vCenter Plug-in), IBM's Systems Director and TPC, and others.
Virtualization awareness: All CNA vendors are tightly integrated with virtual server environments, and they all support NPIV, but Brocade's Tarrio emphasizes the company's VM Optimized Port (VMOP) technology, which offloads CPUs and hypervisors by routing Ethernet packets and reducing latency, according to Tarrio.
Brocade is also shipping the FCoE/CEE-based model 8000 switch through OEMs such as EMC, HDS, IBM, NetApp, HP and Dell.
The Dell'Oro market research firm predicts that the market for FCoE CNAs will grow from about 2,000 ports in 2008 to 2.7 million ports in 2014.
Brocade CNA videos on YouTube (Editor's note: There are no eggs being fried on CNA chips in any of these videos):
An Introduction to Brocade CNAs
Benefits of Brocade FCoE CNAs for Servers
Brocade CNAs and Virtualization
An Introduction to Converged Enhanced Ethernet