Emulex Slaps iSCSI

Defender of all things Fibre contends small businesses don't want iSCSI in their SANs

March 12, 2004

2 Min Read
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Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX) executives never booked their seats on the iSCSI bandwagon, and they claim not many end users have either.

During its analyst day today, Emulex president Jim McCluney said the companys research shows iSCSI is gaining virtually no traction in what was considered its sweet spot -- the small to medium-sized business (SMB) market. Emulex is now claiming that market for Fibre Channel. It’s even safe to say Emulex is betting its co-dominance of the HBA market (shared with QLogic Corp.) on making Fibre Channel the technology of choice for SMB SANs.

"iSCSI is coming off its crest of hyperbole, and it hasn’t come through,” McCluney says. “The performance isn’t there and the availability isn’t there. We believe there’s an enormous opportunity for Fibre Channel to coalesce around this market.”

Of course, the real question is: Is that what SMBs are saying? Or is it only what Emulex wants to hear? It’s no secret Emulex has never been an iSCSI fan despite growing industry consensus that iSCSI will drive the implementation of IP SANs beginning this year, with a potential gain in momentum in 2005 (see Report: Fibre Channel's Outbound). Common reasons given include Microsoft’s support for iSCSI, administrators’ knowledge of Ethernet technology used in IP networking, a full-blown rollout of iSCSI product from storage vendors, and lower cost (see ISCSI: Next Big Thing or H-IP-E?).

According to Emulex, SMBs find iSCSI hard to understand and not yet available, whereas they consider Fibre Channel stable and proven. Emulex also cites performance: 2 Gbit/s Fibre Channel equipment is standard with 4 Gbit/s on the way, while iSCSI still runs at 1 Gbit/s.“Fibre Channel is entrenched, not only in the enterprise but in the midrange and in some of the low end,” Emulex CTO Greg Scherer says. “There’s more questions about where iSCSI fits than there are answers.”

So what about cost? Emulex is trying to address that with its $500 Lightpulse 101 Fibre Channel HBA and a low-end switch based on technology it acquired by buying Vixel last year (see Fibre Channel: HBA Hog Heaven, Emulex Intros New InSpeed Switches, and Emulex Completes Vixel Acquisition). If the strategy works, Emulex might gain a stronghold in the SMB market everybody is chasing. If not, it’s never too late to jump on that iSCSI bandwagon.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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