Emulex outlines iSCSI HBA plans


Emulex, one of the leading vendors of Fibre Channel host bus adapters (HBAs), last month sketched its plans for HBAs based on the evolving iSCSI standard. iSCSI allows block-level I/O over standard IP networks such as Ethernet.

Rather than depicting iSCSI as an alternative to Fibre Channel for building storage area networks (SANs), Emulex sees it primarily as a means to link Fibre Channel SANs to remote storage and systems.

"We do not see iSCSI as a replacement technology for Fibre Channel, because Fibre Channel provides higher performance and meets the needs of data centers," says Jane Shurtleff, director of marketing programs in Emulex's IP Networking Group (which was formed from Emulex's acquisition of Giganet Inc. last month). "We see the primary purpose of iSCSI as integrating Fibre Channel SANs in data centers to remote systems and storage over a wider area," Shurtleff adds.

According to the company, the key applications for iSCSI include

  • Remote backup and disaster recovery;
  • Remote access to block-level storage on Fibre Channel SANs; and
  • Storage virtualization. (For more information on virtualization, see InfoStor, January 2001, p. 20.)

This summer, Emulex plans to deliver to its server and storage OEMs a prototype iSCSI HBA (Ethernet-PCI) and an iSCSI Development Kit (IDK). The IDK will include a sample iSCSI software driver and a Service Level Interface (SLI) application programming interface (API). The SLI API will enable Emulex OEMs that have already written code for the company's LightPulse Fibre Channel HBAs to more easily develop code for its iSCSI HBAs.

Emulex server OEMs-in decreasing order of market share-include IBM, Compaq, Fujitsu, Hitachi, NEC, SGI, Unisys, and Groupe Bull. Its storage OEMs include Compaq, EMC, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, Fujitsu, NEC, SGI, and Comparex.

Production versions of Emulex's iSCSI HBAs are due by year-end, which is approximately when the iSCSI standard is expected to be finalized by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

iSCSI can be used to link Fibre Channel SANs to remote systems and storage over wide area networks.
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To increase performance and decrease host CPU utilization, Emulex is implementing the iSCSI protocol and TCP/IP protocol stack in firmware and hardware on the adapter.

Emulex's entry into the iSCSI market was enabled in large part by its acquisition of Giganet, which was completed March 1. In addition to iSCSI, Giganet's main area of expertise is in the Virtual Interface (VI) architecture for IP-based storage/networking. For example, the company will supply VI-over-IP HBAs to network-attached storage market leader Network Appliance.

Last month, Giganet became the IP Networking Group of Emulex. Ron Quagliara, chief technology officer of Emulex, assumed the role of president of the IP Networking Group. Other officers include Kirk Roller, chief operating officer (formerly senior vice president of worldwide sales and marketing at Emulex) and Fred Gill, executive vice president of worldwide sales.

This article was originally published on April 01, 2001