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Brocade wipes floor with CNA competition

Exchange and Oracle results

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Brocade's network adapters cream competing products from Emulex and QLogic when used for Exchange and Oracle data sent over over Ethernet links.

The Brocade results (pdf) validated by IT Brand Pulse, show that servers using Brocade's converged network adapters (CNAs) will be able to carry out more Exchange email and Oracle database transactions, in some cases almost twice as many, than if they used other suppliers' adapters.

The context here is that Brocade is a relatively recent entrant to the storage network adapter market, which is dominated by Emulex and QLogic with their Fibre Channel HBAs (host bus adapters).

The HBA technology is transitioning to having Fibre Channel protocol messages sent over Ethernet (FCoE) with CNAs providing the means for this and also for accessing block-level storage using the iSCSI protocol, typically used as an inexpensive substitute for Fibre Channel.

CNAs have to do their work as a standard component and Brocade, to sell its CNAs, has to show that they do the work faster than the others. The test results confirm that Brocade's CNA is better, much better at shipping raw IOPS and MB/sec and better at shipping them through the card in Exchange and Oracle environments using either FCoE or iSCSI Protocols.

At raw FCoE IOPS Brocade's 1020 CNA processed around 660,000 IOPS with a 4KB data block size, versus QLogic's QLE8142's 440,000 or so and Emulex' OCe10102-F's 330,000. The throughput measure of the test showed Brocade doing about 2,600MB/sec, QLogic 1,700 and Emulex 1,400 MB/sec with a 4KB block size. The relative Brocade advantage in both IOPS and MB/sec lessened as block sizes increased but remained present.

When the same kit was used in Exchange and Oracle database tests the Brocade advantage was clearcut. With Exchange FCoE IOPS and a 4KB block size the Brocade CNA was 98 per cent better than Emulex's product and 48 per cent better than the QLogic one. The same pattern was seen with Oracle at an 8KB block size: Brocade was 66 per cent better than Emulex and 45 per cent faster than QLogic.

No MB/sec test results are reported for FCoE results with Exchange and Oracle. They are for iSCSI Exchange and Oracle runs along with the iSCSI IOPS results. The general results pattern was the same with Brocade leading both Emulex and QLogic by significant margins at the 4KB block size and the margin lessening as block sizes increased. Emulex's card was the only one with a hardware TCP/IP offload capability, the others also constructing TCP/IP frames in software, but it mattered not a jot, recording some poor results.

The test report authors speculate that Emulex's proprietary iSCSI initiator may be a factor as all the other cards used a Microsoft iSCSI initiator. To quote an extreme result; at a 128KB block size and measuring iSCSI MB/sec, the Emulex OCe10102-F card delivered 200MB/sec, QLogic's QLE8142 just under 1,200 MB/sec and Brocade's 1020 almost 1,300 MB/sec, with both Brocade and QLogic shipping six times or more data through their cards each second than Emulex.

With an Exchange application iSCSI test run, Brocade's card was 131 per cent faster than Emulex's with an 8KB block size, and 22 per cent faster than QLogic's. Emulex performance dropped off startlingly as the block size increased; at a 4KB block size the Brocade advantage was just 34 per cent, but conversely it was 97 per cent faster than the QLogic card.

The impression given is that servers will do much better fitted with Brocade CNAs than ones from Emulex (worst performance) and QLogic.

Read the report for the details; the overview is that Brocade's CNA wipes the floor with its competition using both FCoE and iSCSI IOPS and MB/sec rating in raw, Exchange and Oracle environments, with the exception of FCoE MB/sec in Exchange and Oracle environments which are not included (how odd). ®

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