By Dave Simpson
In a bid to expand beyond its Fibre Channel-only product line, Emulex recently announced its intention to acquire Concord, MA-based Giganet Inc. The deal was valued at approximately $645 million at the time of announcement, and is expected to be completed within the next couple months.
Giganet is known primarily for its expertise in the Virtual Interface (VI) Architecture, and for its tight relationship with network-attached storage (NAS) leader Network Appliance. VI is a high-throughput, low latency technology that can be implemented over IP networks, such as Gigabit Ethernet, in NAS configurations. Giganet officials claim that VI can double application throughput while reducing the required CPU resources by as much as 80%. (For more information on Giganet and VI, see InfoStor, September 2000, p. 20.)
"We want to expand our market opportunities into networking storage using Ethernet, in addition to Fibre Channel," says Mike Smith, executive vice president of worldwide marketing at Costa Mesa, CA-based Emulex. Giganet is developing VI-over-IP host bus adapters (HBAs) for Gigabit Ethernet, and has a design win for those adapters with Network Appliance. Giganet has submitted its VI/IP proposal to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards body.
With VI, applications can communicate with each other directly, bypassing the operating system and protocol stacks. Giganet has extended VI with a proprietary architecture called RapidFlow, which reduces network congestion.
Although Giganet's technology is currently designed for VI and Ethernet-based NAS environments, Emulex's Smith says that the acquisition will also give Emulex an entry into emerging technology markets, such as InfiniBand, iSCSI, Nishan Systems' "Storage over IP" (SoIP), and IP-based storage area networks (SANs).
"Although Giganet is focused on VI, their technology is very flexible, and there's nothing that prevents them from implementing, say, iSCSI or SoIP if the market goes that way," says Smith. "And VI is a key element of InfiniBand, so this acquisition will really help our internal InfiniBand efforts." According to Smith, Emulex plans to deliver InfiniBand products in 12 to 18 months.
Upon completion of the acquisition, Giganet will become the Emulex IP Networking Group, with approximately 100 employees in Concord, MA.