A Twist On Storage


Among these vendors are QLogic, Aliso Viejo, Calif., which has wholeheartedly embraced high-performance computing (HPC) and InfiniBand; Emulex, Costa Mesa, Calif., which has in the past few months moved into storage virtualization and is pushing to get Fibre Channel over Ethernet adopted as a standard; and Brocade Communications Systems, San Jose. Calif., which recently expanded beyond SAN switches and directors to enter the Fibre Channel host bus adapter business.

QLogic used its partner conference in May to start moving its partners into the HPC space and look at adopting InfiniBand. In September, the company plans to ship a gateway card that connects Fibre Channel SANs to a QLogic InfiniBand switch, said Frank Berry, vice president of corporate marketing at QLogic.

Earl Joseph, IDC research vice president and executive director of the HPC User Forum, supported QLogic's expectations of growth in InfiniBand because of its ability to tie together servers, storage and services in an HPC architecture.

The worldwide HPC market, including compute nodes, storage and services, is expected to grow by an average of 9.5 percent annually through 2010, reaching $22.92 billion, up from $16.34 billion this year, Joseph said.

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The HPC server business is expected to climb an average of 20.9 percent yearly over the next four years, compared with 4.9 percent for the server business alone, he said.

The growth of HPC servers most likely will benefit x86 servers running Linux, and will be driven by multicore technology, lower prices and less scalability for individual servers, Joseph said. This will result in a push to increase the use of clustered servers and will require more storage and data management expertise, he said.

Solution providers are still mixed regarding QLogic's InfiniBand push. Like many enterprise-oriented solution providers, VeriStor Systems has not done business in the HPC market, said Steve Bishop, CTO of the Atlanta-based company. "But the changing point seems to be Oracle RAQ deployment," he said. "We're in the process of looking at InfiniBand for RAQ, and working with vendors to understand the cost to the end user."

Greg Knieriemen, vice president of marketing at Chi, a storage solution provider in Cleveland, said he expects his company's exposure to InfiniBand will grow over time. "But for now, it's not high on our list," he said. "It's a reflection of our customer base, not the QLogic product."

For Emulex, the future of the data center is Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), a way to carry Fibre Channel traffic over Ethernet-based networks. When FCoE becomes available in 2009 or 2010, it is expected to drive converged storage and Ethernet integration, said Taufik Ma, vice president of marketing at Emulex. "It's the holy grail. It will bring networking, storage and clustered technology together into the same fabric. ... FCoE is the missing piece."

Brocade last month unveiled its first server connectivity products, including host bus adapters and intelligent server adapters. The move lets Brocade use its data center clout to improve connectivity, add intelligence to storage networks and help simplify infrastructures, said Tom Buiocchi, vice president of worldwide marketing at Brocade. "We're in the position to capitalize on all three areas," he said.