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Emulex and QLogic have both released statements saying they are winning in Fibre Channel adapter-land, and it's emerged that Emulex's claim to FCoE adapter leadership might be flaky.

The Fibre Channel host bus adapter (HBA) market is basically a two-horse race between Emulex and QLogic with new entrant Brocade not having large sales at all. The main tracker of suppliers' shares in this market is Dell'Oro, and it's just released a report for the first quarter of this year.

Emulex quotes the report to say it's gaining share in the 8Gbit/s HBA and mezzanine sectors of the Fibre Channel market. Great: "That is where the market is headed," said Emulex' chief marketing guy Steve Dehab.

QLogic's statement was headed "QLogic gains additional market share from competition in Fibre Channel Adapters." Wonderful. Dell'Oro assigned it a 52.2 per cent revenue market share, up 2.1 per cent on the previous quarter, and 19.1 per cent ahead of Emulex. QLogic was ahead of Emulex in every HBA category, and has been the leading HBA supplier in revenue terms for six years.

So Emulex is making progress in two sectors and falling behind in the others. But Dehab put a statement saying: "Emulex remains the market share leader in the next generation 10 Gbit/s Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) Converged Network Adapter (CNA) market according to Infonetics' latest market share report."

Yes, well, that claim may not stand up to scrutiny. The word from QLogic spokesperson Steve Zivanic is that Infonetics approached QLogic to validate its figures for QLogic's share in the 2009 CNA market. QLogic declined to play ball and pointed out that Infonetic's assessment of its sales in 2009 was wrong.

One reason for deciding not to cooperate with Infonetics was that it had no track history in following the HBA market, let alone the CNA market which didn't exist before 2009. The main independent Fibre Channel HBA market tracker is Dell'Oro, with Zivanic saying: "Dell'Oro is the industry standard bible of accuracy in this sector."

It will start tracking the CNA market this year and has estimated it was worth an insignificant amount in 2008, $14.2m in 2009, and will bring in $51m this year. QLogic estimated Emulex's share of the CNA market in 2009 as just $3m to $4m, working backwards from its 57 per cent share in the Infonetics report. Zivanic said: "We estimated QLogic was significantly greater in revenue for FCoE for the period of Infonetic's report."

An Infonetics UK office spokesperson said: "Some vendors are not co-operative. In that situation we make estimates," based on metrics such as chip supplies, channel partner information and so forth. The Infonetics research author in the USA was not able to discuss the QLogic points before we went to press.

Zivanic asserted that "There is no accurate FCoE market data available right now - none." He's sure that Emulex did not lead the CNA market in 2009, and we think that QLogic will likely lead it in 2010 when Dell'Oro publishes its numbers for the year.

Of course, if QLogic had played ball with Infonetics it wouldn't now be having to mount a rearguard PR action to try and counteract Emulex's claim of 2009 CNA leadership. ®

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