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Midrange companies typically maintain separate networks for Fiber Channel and Ethernet because of the way their IT departments are organized or managed, Schulz said. And in more and more of those cases, they are electing to use FCoE for both, he said.
"They may have separate LAN and SAN environments, but they like the idea of managing them in a converged way," he said. "So they may have bought Nexus switches for the LAN and Nexus switches for the SAN, and plan to converge them together. Or they may have environments where the LAN and SAN teams work together. If they work together, they start to realize the benefits of FCoE."
Cisco and its rival, Brocade are both pushing FCoE technology from the switch side, with Cisco coming at it from the LAN side and Brocade from the SAN side, Schulz said.
"Cisco has more traction, and has been doing more to jumpstart this market, with Brocade jumping up and down and saying they're here, too," he said. "But it's still early in the game. There's plenty of room for Brocade to take its place."
On the CNA side, both Emulex and QLogic are battling in the first round for FCoE dominance, Schulz said. Other networking companies to watch include PMC-Sierra, Mellanox-Voltaire, Huawei, Avaya, Ciena, and HP-3Com, most of which use chips from QLogic and Emulex, he said.
Cisco was the first company to ship FCoE switches with its Nexus 5000 switches in June of 2008, and later added the Nexus 2000 Switches to extend the unified fabric. Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) uses FCoE to unite SAN and LAN traffic in a unified fabric.
According to a Cisco spokesperson, about 30 percent of the company's Nexus 5000 switches are FCoE-enabled. A company spokesperson said Cisco expects FCoE to continue to gain ground because of cost savings from a need for fewer cables, switches, and adapters; power cost savings; and the fact that FCoE technology is non-disruptive.
Brocade offers a complete end-to-end FCoE server I/O consolidation solution for allowing storage traffic and networking traffic to be transported onto common lossless Ethernet links. Companies can deploy top-of-rack solutions using Brocade VDX 6720 and Brocade 8000 switches with Brocade CNAs, or deploy end-of-row solutions using Brocade FCoE blades in the company's DCX Backbones. The company also provides the Brocade Data Center Fabric Manager software for unifying the management of existing Fibre Channel SANs and new FCoE resources.
A Brocade spokesperson said the company's FCoE revenue is pretty modest but showing good growth year-over-year. However, the spokesperson said, Fibre Channel still has a cost advantage over FCoE.
Brocade expects FCoE adoption for most companies to start with top-of-rack switches, and then move to the use of FCoE blades in networking backbone switches, with further larger configurations happening as networking Layer 2 multi-pathing standards become available.
Emulex offers FCoE CNAs as well as chipsets to build FCoE-enabled LAN-on-motherboard connectors for servers and network adaptors produced by HP, IBM, Cisco, and Dell.
Shaun Walsh, vice president of marketing for Emulex, said his company expects FCoE to account for about 25 percent of all storage connections by 2013, based on information from analyst firms such as Dell'Oro Group and Crehan Research. At that time, Walsh said, the FCoE host connectivity market could reach about $200 million, compared to $700 million for the Fibre Channel host connectivity market.