NetApp, QLogic, and Brocade are working together to ignite customer and solution provider interest in Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) with the introduction of new blades and modules for the new storage protocol.
NetApp on Tuesday unveiled a new plug-in adapter card for nearly all of its storage appliances that gives them native FCoE connectivity. That card, the Unified Target Adapter, comes from QLogic, which also makes the single-chip FCoE processor on the card.
NetApp also is reselling server host Converged Network Adapters (CNA) from QLogic and Brocade, as well as the Brocade 8000 FCoE switch.
Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) is a technology that allows both Fibre Channel data and Ethernet data to travel over a lossless 10-Gbit Ethernet network infrastructure. It allows customers to combine their Fibre Channel and Ethernet traffic into a single high-speed network, taking advantage of the 10-Gbit bandwidth as new FCoE equipment is purchased while maintaining compatibility with legacy Fibre Channel hardware.
The availability of FCoE CNAs, switches, and storage appliances from NetApp makes the vendor the only storage vendor in the market to offer end-to-end FCoE, said Patrick Rogers, vice president of solutions marketing for NetApp.
"On a 10-Gbit Ethernet connection, we can talk NAS, Fibre Channel and iSCSI," Rogers said. "It's some pretty cool stuff."
It actually is pretty cool, said Rolf Strasheim, director of client solutions at Peak UpTime, a Tulsa, Okla.-based solution provider and NetApp partner.
The move will help speed up the adoption of FCoE, Strasheim said.
Customers are not adopting FCoE yet, but they are asking about it, he said.
"NetApp is choosing partners that add value for customers," he said. "The QLogic name may not carry the cachet of more well-known larger vendors, but it does mean solid value for NetApp."
NetApp is offering a new plug-in card built by QLogic for much of its storage appliance line, including the NetApp FAS3040, FAS3070 and FAS3100 series; the FAS6000 series; the FAS2050; the V6000 series; and the V3100 series.
That QLogic card is based on QLogic's single-chip FCoE processor, which is also used in QLogic CNAs.
NetApp chose QLogic specifically because of the single-chip solution, which offers better performance than multichip solutions currently available on the market, Rogers said. However, he said, NetApp will evaluate other vendors' offerings as they become available in single-chip versions, he said.
NetApp has been demonstrating FCoE using older technology for about a year, and just did a FCoE road show with Cisco Systems, Rogers said.
"So partners know where we're going," he said. "We sold some appliances with a multichip solution, but we can't name the customers."
Until now, most FCoE products have been sold into test and development environments, and not enterprise production environments, Rogers said.
"But after more testing, they are looking at how to migrate from Fibre Channel to FCoE platforms," he said. "A lot of customers have installed 10-Gbit Ethernet infrastructures, and are running them alongside their Fibre Channel infrastructures."
NetApp's coming to market with native FCoE capability comes shortly after IBM started reselling QLogic CNAs with its System x blade servers, said Steve Zivanic, a QLogic spokesperson.
In addition, with Brocade and Cisco offering FCoE switches, it is now possible to build a complete FCoE infrastructure from the server to the storage array, Zivanic said.
Zivanic said NetApp's adoption of native FCoE connectivity should spur the storage industry's adoption of FCoE in much the same way EMC's decision to offer solid-state drives (SSD) in its storage arrays spurred the adoption of that technology.
"Before January of 2008, when EMC announced SSD, who thought about SSD? Now everybody is talking about SSD. As IBM and NetApp roll out FCoE, we will see the industry start to look at this technology. Later this year, or early next year, this will start to ramp."
In addition to selling FCoE CNAs and switches through NetApp, Brocade on Tuesday also unveiled a new FCoE blade for its DCX data center director-class switch, said Ahmed Zamer, senior product marketing manager at Brocade.
The blade gives the DCX director-class switches the ability to carry both 10-Gbit Ethernet and 8-Gbit Fibre Channel over a single network, Zamer said.
NetApp's new QLogic-based FCoE Unified Target Adapter is currently available through NetApp's channels with a price of $4,500 for a version with an optical connector and $2,350 for a version with a copper connector.
NetApp currently sells an 8-Gbit Fibre Channel target adapter with a list price of $3,000.
QLogic's FCoE CNAs are currently available via both IBM's and NetApp's channels, and are expected to be available through QLogic distributors late this week.
The Brocade 8000 FCoE switch and the Brocade CNAs are slated to be available from NetApp in August. The Brocade FCoE blade for its DCX directors is slated to be available in September.