After shelling out $1.4 billion
to buy SAN maker EqualLogic
last year, it is safe to say that Dell has a hefty stake in the success and growth of the iSCSI
storage market. Given all of the recent noise
in the industry around Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE
) being the preferred storage protocol of the future, Dell held a conference call with media and analysts this morning to offer its two cents on the topic.
What it boils down to is that Dell’s storage folks believe converged networks based on lossless
Ethernet technology will float all storage boats. According to Eric Endebrock
, senior manager for Dell’s storage product group, iSCSI
is here to stay and Fibre Channel storage will bolster FCoE
as a way to connect legacy FC
systems over 10GbE
networks (and eventually 100GbE
"Dell is a big believer in unifying the fabric, but that is long-term," said Endebrock
. "We are not looking to take our customers and forklift them away from the environments they have today, but they will soon have to start making some choices."
Dell’s official stance is that unified fabrics make the most sense financially for customers in the long-term.
"We are going to support 10GbE
and Data Center Ethernet (also known as Converged Enhanced Ethernet) in our EqualLogic
PS arrays. Today our PS arrays support iSCSI
and will continue to support iSCSI
in the future," said Endebrock
. "We are not changing now, but protocol flexibility is going to be a key to our success. EqualLogic
is not the best way to think about our investment in that area."
In other words, the company is not ruling out support for FCoE
in its Dell EqualLogic PS5000 Series iSCSI SAN arrays
At last week’s Storage Networking World conference, I asked Dell’s director of enterprise storage, Praveen Asthana
, for his take on FCoE
and how it might fit into Dell’s product plans going forward.Asthana
has already been successful in one respect. It has prompted customers to start thinking about the future. However, he maintained that FCoE
requires a networking overhaul and iSCSI
is still less expensive overall. He also referred to FCoE
as "a stop on the way to iSCSI
It is no surprise that Dell, like its competitors, is keeping its options open. In the end, customers will ultimately dictate which protocol will dominate or whether FCoE
will truly coexist in converged networks.