QLogic is bringing director-class Fibre Channel switches to the entry level and sees the move as a way to take advantage of any confusion that may arise with rival Brocade Communications Systems' acquisition of McData.
QLogic this week is introducing the SanBox 9000, a director-class switch that fits up to 128 Fibre Channel ports into a 4U chassis, said Frank Berry, vice president of corporate marketing at the Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based storage networking component vendor.
The directors are stackable so that two can be combined to put up to 256 ports in an 8U space. Berry said competitors like Brocade and McData require 14U of rack space to fit 256 ports. The SanBox 9000 also helps conserve power, with its 4U chassis rated at 620 Watts vs. McData's 14U chassis at 2,200 Watts, he said.
With 32 ports, the SanBox 9000 lists for about $50,000, including the hardware and a full suite of SAN fabric management software. Competing products, for which software is an option, typically cost about twice that, according to Berry.
"We have no a la carte sales," he said. "It's a characteristic of the open system market that customers want to get management software with the hardware."
One reason for the lower cost is that, unlike competing Fibre Channel directors, the SanBox 9000 does not support mainframe connectivity and has no FICON capability, Berry said. "This is for open systems use only, so it has a lower cost," he said.
The SanBox 9000 comes out at a time when customers are looking at Brocade's imminent acquisition of McData, Berry noted.
"The herd mentality is that Brocade will drop a lot of the McData products," he said. "We at QLogic feel that a lot of their products overlap. Our intent is not to go head-to-head with Brocade and Cisco. We instead want to expand the market."
The SanBox 9000 is available with 4-Gbit-per-second Fibre Channel and 10-Gbit Ethernet connectivity. QLogic plans to offer iSCSI and FCIP (Fibre Channel over IP) connectivity in January, Berry said. Also on tap for mid-2007 is the ability to virtualize capacity from multiple vendors' arrays into one pool of storage, he said.