FCoE CNAs: HP/IBM tap Emulex, Cisco taps QLogic

March 2, 2010 – For quite some time, archrival QLogic has had bragging rights in the market for converged network adapters (CNAs) that support FCoE, iSCSI and 10GbE, but Emulex is now able to ante up with recently announced OEM design wins from HP and IBM. But QLogic still has the edge in the number of design wins.

On Friday, Emulex announced that its OneConnect Universal Converged Network Adapters (UCNAs) with support for 10GbE and FCoE have been certified by HP for use in select ProLiant rack, tower and blade servers. Support for iSCSI is expected in the second half of the year.

It’s important to note that HP will brand the Emulex adapters. In typical HP fashion, the three adapters will be succinctly dubbed the HP NC550SFP Dual Port 10Gb/s Server Adapter; the HP StorageWorks CN1000E Dual Port CNA (for ProLiant rack and tower servers); and the HP NC550 Dual Port Flex-10 10Gb/s Ethernet Adapter (for ProLiant blade servers).

Emulex’s OneConnect CNAs have full hardware offload for TCP/IP, FCoE and iSCSI, and users can start with a 10GbE NIC and add support for FCoE and/or iSCSI when/if they need it.

Today, Emulex announced a significant expansion of its OEM agreement with IBM. Big Blue will offer Emulex’s 10GbE NICs (upgradable to support FCoE and iSCSI) across eight IBM server lines, including the recently announced eX5 line and three BladeCenter families. Emulex already had an OEM design win with IBM for its Virtual Fabric Adapters. (QLogic's 8100 series CNAs are also supported on IBM's System x and BladeCenter platforms, for both 10GbE and FCoE connectivity.)

Also today, however, QLogic announced that Cisco has certified its 8100 series FCoE CNAs with the Unified Computing System (UCS) platform. Cisco has also certified QLogic’s CNAs for use with the Nexus 5000 series of switches.

If I were QLogic, from a marketing perspective I would continue to crow about my lead in OEM design wins. (In addition to Cisco, QLogic has FCoE CNA design wins with EMC, IBM and NetApp, as well as a number of second tier storage vendors.) But from a competitive perspective, it really doesn’t matter at this stage of the game.

It’s safe to assume that virtually all of the leading vendors will eventually qualify CNAs from both Emulex and QLogic. It’s also likely that OEMs will qualify CNAs from other vendors, such as Broadcom and Intel.

The good thing here is that users will have a wide variety of CNAs to choose from – unlike in the Fibre Channel HBA market, where it boils down to the Emulex-QLogic duopoly followed in a distant third place by Brocade.

Users will be able to choose based on price, performance, and support/performance for whatever protocols they’re using – 10GbE, FCoE and/or iSCSI.

Meanwhile, Emulex and QLogic may be headed for a court date. See "QLogic sues Emulex, but not over technology."

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posted by: Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson, Editor-in-Chief
by Dave Simpson
Editor-in-Chief

Dave Simpson has been the Editor-in-Chief of InfoStor since its inception in 1997. He previously held editorial positions at publications such as Datamation, Systems Integration, and Digital News and Review. He can be contacted at dsimpson@quinstreet.com

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