EMC Does Deal with QLogic – Fibre Channel Switching Finding It’s Place In Datacenters – Data & Storage Networking

The convergence story is playing out on the main stage with the moves in the Fibre Channel market as reported by Network World this morning.

EMC does deal with QLogic adding them to the list of approved EMC vetted solutions (thanks @stu from EMC for the clarification).  EMC’s sales force will now be able to sell QLogic as well as Cisco and Brocade.  However, QLogic is the only 8Gb FC stackable switching option at EMC.

What’s Happening Here – Blow to Brocade

This announcement is really a blow to Brocade because this is now two Tier One OEMs carrying the full portfolio of QLogic switches–two customers where Brocade had no competition from QLogic in the past.

I got a tip from an source close to the deal who emailed me that this is about QLogic becoming very relevant in the Fibre Channel switch market.  Another person close to the deal said “This is a blow to Brocade who was sitting on their hands in terms of product innovation and QLogic has been sneaking up on the field gaining share and big deals”.

Recently Brocade has been under fire for lack of performance due to pressure from Juniper and QLogic.  Vendors are broadening the ecosystem to create more competition and accelerate the convergence of storage and networking and servers.

Just 30 days ago during the famous Cisco HP formal breakup we had HP going with QLogic.  Now we have EMC adding more QLogic stackable switches to its portfolio.

EMC is now getting into the 8G Fibre Channel product area with a deal with  QLogic.  Fibre channel is not going away any time soon and it’s looking like the the preferred solution today for “dynamic” storage environments for enterprises and big datacenter infrastructure including internal and private clouds where data sits at the center of the value proposition.

QLogic and fibre channel switching is continuing to gain mainstream data center customers for its stackable Fibre Channel switching technology particularly the 8Gb switches.  Storage and networking are converging. Inside organizations, CIO’s are looking toward networking and storage groups and saying we need to pull these together.

First it was HP and now EMC going with Fibre Channel player QLogic in an deal that will allow EMC to sell and rollout the highest end Fibre Channel switches for their unified storage offering.

Here are some details on QLogic from Network World

QLogic’s 5800V 8Gb Fibre Channel switches do not waste switch ports for interswitch links (ISL) like switches from other vendors. This feature makes them particularly attractive for consolidation projects where the cost of each port used is a factor.

In addition, the 5800V Series include 10Gb Fibre Channel stacking ports that can be upgraded when necessary to 20Gb performance. Higher bandwidth connectivity options are necessary in this world of increasingly virtualized data centers. The 20 dedicated 8Gb Fibre Channel device ports per switch can be scalable to over 100 device ports in a fabric. And because the switches have stacking ports, IT is able to non-disruptively expand by adding switching cables.

The Big Data Trend -Storage Networking

Recently, EMC’s President of Information Infrastructure, Pat Gelsinger (ex Intel executive now at EMC) unveiled a vision for federated storage as reported here on SiliconAngle by new contributor and analyst David Vallente.

Seeing all the action in the fibre channel switch (and adapters) area points to a big trend – datacenters are converging around anything that can gain a performance improvement without disruption.  Fibre channel has not been know for something cutting edge, but it certainly speaks to the mindset of enterprise networking folks – data is driving this value proposition.

EMC’s Big Vision – What This Deal Means

Fibre channel is shaping up to be at the center of federated storage – meaning the interconnect for spreading data around enterprise networks and private clouds.  EMC recently announced a vision that talks about federated storage by Pat Gelinger.  Fibre channel continues to playing a big part in virtualization and expanding the effectiveness of data and networks.

*It means you never go down

*It means you never lose data

*It means you can move resources around the network instantaneously

*It means you virtualize these resources and connect to the cloud for backup, overflow and business continuity…on demand

To achieve this organizations will leverage their Fibre channel infrastructure and that means cards, cabling, and of course switching. As organizations scale they’ll converge networks, deploy 10gig E – stackable switches and virtual IO.

Datacenter Wars

All the recent activity in this area centers around the datacenter war for the big vendors like Cisco, HP, EMC, and others.  Organizations need to set up disk systems at multiple locations and pre-allocate space and communications lines and essentially purpose build replica systems to support specific applications.  New networking architectures and cloud are driving this.

Federated storage enables a general purpose virtualized pool that can be established to migrate workloads, free up disk space, end of life assets and bring on new resources much more quickly and at substantially lower costs. The big benefits will be at synchronous distances but federated storage will also help improve the efficiencies at asynchronous distance.

This organizational consolidation is representative of a broader industry trend toward convergence of storage, network and servers. We see this with HP (we wrote about this last week after seeing HPs vision – HP V8 Moment), and we’re seeing this with Fibre channel switching.

Here is more background on stackable switches which have been gaining attention via these high profile deals with HP, Cisco, and now EMC.

My Angle – Costs and Performance with Cloud Tie-in

It’s clear that Fibre channel is something isn’t going away anytime soon and it is a core installed technology that has a place in the datacenter as a data storage networking solution.

EMC’s vision needs this kind of ecosystem as does cloud generally. Now by cloud we mean the private cloud. The public cloud won’t touch this (we’ll see) – they’ll be object based, REST, Citrix,..etc. But the data center cloud or private cloud or virtual data center or whatever you want to call it will rely on a variety of technologies including FC, iSCSI, 10Gig E, etc.

Why should CIO’s care about switching and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE)? Because it’s all about networking and these technologies will cut networking costs. You won’t be able to afford the cloud without them.

Enterprises have been avoiding the rip and replace strategy with a focus on leverage existing technologies already available if those technologies can deliver.  There is demand hence the action from the big players.

Impact is Cloud and Virtualization

Reading the “tea leaves” it’s clear that EMC want to push their market position from big data storage to showing that it will be adding “Big Data over and across networks” – hello cloud and virtualization.

By adding QLogic EMC gets more speed and performance to sell in the storage networking equation something Cisco and Brocade didn’t have.