In my opinion, it may be time to pop a few balloons of a few vendor claims I've been noticing out there. It seems pretty clear that with limited growth opportunities in its existing Fibre Channel portfolio, Brocade decided to enter the HBA market last year and released a barrage of overarching claims regarding its new products' superiority. Brocade claims that its 8-Gbps FC adapters offer the same exact functionality as the market leaders, Emulex and QLogic. Reality, in fact, may be somewhat different. Brocade's HBAs appear not to be measuring up to either vendor's offering. Clients report to me that Brocade's 8-Gbps products are struggling with stability and have been at the root of a number of systems issues as of late. Despite all this, they are reportedly shipping with over 20 medium to high severity defects. This is not what one would refer to as stable host bus adapter technology. Brocade is also claiming that its 8-Gbps HBAs offer performance in the range of "500K IOPS per port." However a quick customer reality-check reveals that Brocade 8-Gbps HBAs achieve less than 20% of these performance claims -- that's less than 100,000 IOPS per port in real-world environments. Unfortunately, ports are disabled if a non-Brocade small form-factor pluggable (SFP) module is installed -- this sure feels like an attempt at customer lock-in. In an audacious move, clients report that Brocade is spending up to $300 per board to try and buy business. The perception this creates is effectively a "going-out-of-business," or trying to "buy-the-business" model, where product is being given away in a last ditch effort in hopes of a sign of customer acceptance.
Another thing that I don't understand is the recent goings-on at Emulex, which issued an announcement last week that it attained a "CNA design win" at HP. While some in the storage industry assumed this was for the much marketed single chip "UCNAs," based on Server Engines silicon, this was actually for the Emulex first-generation CNAs based on multiple isolated chips on a significantly larger motherboard. We have still yet to see any single chip CNA design wins from Emulex.
It is important for vendors to be clear about where they are with their products and with delivery cycles. If vendors don't tell it like it is, they are letting down their customers, channel partners and they certainly aren't going to pass the Trainer Test. A recommendation: Clean your act up, guys.Tom Trainer is founder and president of analyst firm Analytico. Prior to founding Analytico, Trainer was Principal Storage Product Marketing Manager at Red Hat, and Director of Marketing at Gluster prior to its acquisition by Red Hat. Tom has worked as managing senior partner ... View Full Bio