HP to resell QLogic's enterprise FC switches

By Dave Simpson

-- Hewlett Packard and QLogic this week announced that HP will resell QLogic's enterprise-class, stackable, 8Gbps Fibre Channel SAN switches. According to Charles Vallhonrat, product marketing manager in HP's StorageWorks division, HP will continue to resell Fibre Channel switches from Brocade and Cisco.

It should also be noted that HP has for some time resold QLogic's lower-end 8/16-port edge switches under the StorageWorks 8/20q brand. But the new deal marks the first time that HP will be reselling QLogic's enterprise-class switches.

The switches are based on QLogic's 5800V and 5802V series, but will be branded by HP as the "StorageWorks SN6000 Stackable 8Gb FC Switches."

Each switch has 20 8Gbps Fibre Channel ports and four 10Gbps (or, optionally, 20Gbps) Fibre Channel inter-switch links (ISLs) to connect switches. Using dedicated ISLs to stack switches increases the number of available user/device ports by 25%. The switches can be stacked for up to 500 device ports per fabric.

In addition to the 10Gbps/20Gbps ISLs and support for 8Gbps Fibre Channel, a key differentiator (vs. Brocade and Cisco switches) of the SN6000 switches is that they are stackable. Cisco, for example, has stackable 4Gbps Fibre Channel edge switches with 10Gbps ISLs in the HP portfolio, but they currently do not support 8Gbps Fibre Channel or 20Gbps ISLs.

"The QLogic switches have unique value propositions in investment protection," says Vallhonrat, referring to support for 8Gbps Fibre Channel and the high-speed ISL links.

"Traditionally, if you wanted to hook up a number of edge switches you have to use device and user ports as ISLs," he says. "That's complicated, cumbersome and [time-consuming]. With the QLogic switches you just slide in a new switch and hook up to the 10Gbps or 20Gbps ISLs."

HP's SN6000 switches are priced at $10,500 with a single power supply, or $13,500 with dual power supplies.

The HP-QLogic announcement came on the heels of HP's introduction this week of 8Gbps Fibre Channel storage arrays (see "HP refreshes entry-level, LeftHand SANs.")

In a recent report, Wikibon.org analysts concluded that non-stackable switches can be up to 74% more expensive than stackable switches (see "The Total Cost of Ownership of Stackable Switches"). The Wikibon comparison was between QLogic and Brocade switches, and was conducted prior to this week's HP-QLogic announcement.

Also as a result of their expended partnership, HP and QLogic introduced management software – dubbed StorageWorks Simple SAN Connection Manager – that enables management of HP-branded QLogic switches, host bus adapters (HBAs), and HP's StorageWorks EVA/MSA disk arrays.

QLogic officials hope the HP deal will enable them to increase their share of the Fibre Channel switch market, where QLogic is a distant third to the Brocade-Cisco duopoly. The Dell'Oro Group research firm expects the Fibre Channel edge switch market to grow from $818.7 million last year to $944.4 million this year, exceeding $1 billion in 2011.

Meanwhile, in potentially related news, the rumor mill is abuzz about the rift between HP and Cisco. See Kevin Komiega's blog, "Cisco-HP partnership implodes."

This article was originally published on February 19, 2010