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Brocade gets HP HBA support

But can't see any for CNA

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

HP has added another brick to Brocade's wall by qualifying its host bus adapters with ProLiant servers, along with MSA and EVA drive arrays. HP will also ship Brocade's Fibre Channel over Ethernet switch.

This HP support combines with an earlier IBM qualification to substantially strengthen Brocade's HBA offer. The HBA market is largely a duopoly between Emulex and QLogic, with Brocade being a recent entrant. It claims quality of storage service advantages if its HBAs are used with its SAN fabric switches.

Madhu Matta, VP of Brocade's Server Division, said: "Our HBAs allow customers to consolidate more servers and virtualise server-to-storage environments, while simplifying overall management across the SAN in a cost-effective manner.”

This claim is based on Brocade's assertion that its HBAs extend ProLiant I/O performance "to an industry-best" 500,000 IOPS per port, and that "Brocade HBAs provide twice the throughput of competing products."

Brocade now has two tier one server vendor qualifications for its HBAs. However, the HBA future is seen as a transition to Converged Network Adapters (CNAs). These run the Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) protocol and connect to Ethernet switches, such as Brocade's 8000 FCoE switch, the one being OEM'd by HP.

This is a multiprotocol, layer 2, top-of-rack FCoE switch with 24 X 10GBitE Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) ports and eight 8GBit/s FC ports. Brocade's CNAs are not included in the HP agreement.

IBM, which is OEM'ing NetIron and FastIron Ethernet switches from Brocade's acquired Foundry operation, has not said anything about taking the 8000 switch, and has not qualified Brocade's CNAs.

Both Emulex and QLogic are offering and rapidly developing CNA products, with Emulex announcing today that HP has qualified its CNAs for its ProLiant servers and MSA, EVA and XP arrays. The Emulex CNAs are compatible with both Cisco and Brocade FCoE-based switches.

Emulex is defending itself aggressively against a hostile takeover from Ethernet switch vendor Broadcom, which is viewed as Broadcom's attempt to buy in FCoE technology. This HP qualification may well be used by Emulex to support its assertion that the Broadcom bid greatly undervalues the company.

QLogic announced IBM will use its 8100 CNA to provide FCoE connectivity on various rack and tower servers late last month.

It looks as if Brocade is lagging behind its competitors in the CNA qualification stakes, but it is early days in the FCoE market, with 2011 reckoned to the year when real deployments will start. ®

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