Feeds

IBM taps Emulex for cheap Fibre Channel

Never mind the fabric, feel the price

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Application security programs and practises

Are smaller businesses ready to adopt SANs? History is dubious, but the latest converts to the cause are Emulex and IBM, via a pair of cheap 'n cheerful Fibre Channel switches based on silicon that Emulex has been selling to the embedded market for use in disk arrays and the like.

They follow several other attempts to sell low-end SANs, such as IBM's ill-fated first round of iSCSI kit, and QLogic's SAN-in-a-box kits which proved a useful door-opener with some SAN-wary accounts, but failed to set the small business market alight.

What makes the Emulex switches cheap is that they are not designed to support the SAN fabrics that large users now expect as a matter of course. The SAN Storage Switch 355 is a 12-port non-blocking 2Gbit Fibre Channel switch, while the 375 is a 20-port version that also has redundant fans and hot-swappable power supplies.

Both are based on the InSpeed switch-on-a-chip technology that Emulex bought with Vixel. They have an integrated web server for management, plus a number of features to simplify installation and use, such as predefined switch configurations, one-step storage pool partitioning, and an intelligent change manager.

"It's a loop switch, a souped-up hub," says QLogic's Steve Perkins. He pointed out that it is not upgradeable but could be good for someone with a few servers and no plans to grow.

"It competes with the QLogic SANbox, it's very much for the low-end - eight to 12 servers, three or four storage devices," adds Alan Wallman, VP of Emulex's European operations. "It could be connected to a fabric though, via a Brocade switch say."

He says that Emulex will only sell the switches through OEMs such as IBM and will not compete directly with Brocade, Cisco and McDATA, as he wants to carry on working with all of them on the HBA front.

However, Brocade targets a similar market with cut-down versions of its SilkWorm fabric switches, and at an estimated $200 per port, the Emulex switches are considerably cheaper.

In any case, small businesses have so far been fearful of Fibre Channel. However, Stuart Bridger, CTO at SAN specialist Acal Storage Networking thinks that could change, despite the challenge from IP storage.

"iSCSI's not taken off, it's still too early," he says. "Fibre Channel is not difficult, it's just different - if you want 'difficult', storage over IP can be even harder. It can get very messy and you can get into some very high level IP stuff.

"The key for Emulex will be to have the right software - it has to be easy to use and understand, because at that level you're competing against NAS too." ®

Related stories

EMC fattens up around its NAS
IBM preps new Xeon kit, returns to iSCSI game
IBM signs up CNT's mega-director

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Sysadmin Day 2014: Quick, there's still time to get the beers in
He walked over the broken glass, killed the thugs... and er... reconnected the cables*
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
SHOCK and AWS: The fall of Amazon's deflationary cloud
Just as Jeff Bezos did to books and CDs, Amazon's rivals are now doing to it
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.