QLogic's announcement today of their Adaptive Convergence strategy is the equivalent of a nuclear blast across the converged networking landscape, metaphorically leveling the competition in its wake. As I have predicted in the past, QLogic is seriously committed to the converged networking sector and is innovating at a rapid pace, gaining material market share and bringing fundamentally new technologies to market that will benefit cloud service providers and highly virtualized environments. This new attack on the network convergence landscape is again bringing the fight, and the pain, to its competitors.
Adaptive Convergence closely aligns QLogic's strategy with that of its tier one OEMs. With Adaptive Convergence, QLogic aims to deliver flexible network resources across the enterprise and help its OEMs realize their visions of delivering autonomic, adaptable and flexible IT environments. Conversely, some of its competitors compete with server and storage OEMs by offering products that overlap with their customers' portfolios. Adaptive Convergence aligns as complimentary to OEMs' strategies and product portfolios and is focused on enabling their success in service-based IT environments. In my opinion, this new strategy fits well with HP's Converged Infrastructure or IBM's On Demand strategy.
Included in the announcement was the ability to run multiple, diverse protocols concurrently, including iSCSI, FCoE and 10Gb Ethernet--and switch back and forth between protocols as and when required--dynamically. A problem in virtual environments is that VMs accessing different storage systems require separate, dedicated network adapters. Using QLogic's ConvergeFlex, a single converged netword adapter (CNA) enables virtual machines (VM) to access data from different SANs without having to reboot servers or use separate adapters. In my opinion, this is a game-changer when compared to the strategies of other network hardware providers such as Emulex, for example, which still recommends dedicated adapter SKUs for each protocol: iSCSI, FCoE, Ethernet. A single CNA technology enables customers to switch workloads from an FCoE SAN to a iSCSI SAN and back again, which is a strong value proposition for service-based IT environments.
Also announced is the ability to leverage direct VM-to-VM communication within physical blade servers without requiring the use of an external Ethernet switch. This results in a simplified data center design and better economics by integrating a Layer 2 Ethernet switch within its new adapter architecture. This means that when one VM wants to communicate to another VM it goes through the hypervisor and into the CNA and then directly back to the second VM--without going through an external Ethernet switch, saving cycle time and providing a more direct communication path.
Adapters from Emulex, Brocade, Broadcom and Intel all do not feature this VM-enabling capability, which will help increase the mobility of VMs across high-density blade server environments. With this kind of capability, it's important for QLogic to release performance characteristics as soon as possible so that VM users can start to assess the impact this technology can make in their virtualized environments.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