Engenio Claims 4-Gbit/s Surge

SAN vendor begs to differ with EMC's assessment of the 4-Gbit/s FC market

August 11, 2005

3 Min Read
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Engenio Information Technologies Inc. says growth in sales of 4-Gbit/s arrays are up by more than 30 percent, indicating vigorous adoption of the new Fibre Channel data rate (see Engenio Boasts Big 4-Gbit/ Sales).

The company says sales of the Engenio 6998, a 4-Gbit/s FC array announced in January 2005, rose 33 percent from February, when they first shipped, through July (see Engenio Goes 4-Gig for HPC). In all, 360 systems were sold to customers to meet demand in verticals like healthcare, entertainment, and oil and gas research. Compare that with 270 systems sold in the first six months of 2001.

Engenio's claims are borne out by the financials of LSI Logic Corp. (NYSE: LSI), its public parent company. Last month, LSI reported that revenues from storage systems and components (a.k.a. Engenio) rose nearly 12 percent sequentially, from $106.4 million in the first quarter 2005 to $118.9 million in the quarter ended June 30, 2005. "Our Engenio storage systems subsidiary benefited from the successful introduction of its higher-end product line," said Abhi Talwalkar, LSI Logic's CEO, in a prepared statement (see LSI Logic Reports Q2).

Three main OEMs account for most of Engenio's 4-Gbit/s sales -- IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) (NYSE: SGI), and Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek) (NYSE: STK). Each has made 4-Gbit/s announcements based on their purchase of Engenio controllers. (See SGI Targets First in 4-Gig, IBM Ships Engenio-Based 4G FC, IBM Drives 4-Gbit/s, and StorageTek Adds 4-Gbit/s Support.)

Engenio's announcement of 4-Gbit/s growth is aimed to counter claims made by EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) to the contrary. In announcing new systems last week, that vendor downplayed the role of the new FC speed: "When the market has quality, 4-Gig, end-to-end components that are tested, thats when you’ll see a 4-Gig system from EMC. Anybody announcing 4-Gig now is pre-announcing products,” said Barry Ader, EMC director of Clariion marketing (see EMC Cultivates Clariion).Engenio bristled. "It's convenient to say there's no demand when you can't take advantage of the demand because you haven't put a product out there," says Mitch Seigle, senior director of corporate marketing at Engenio.

At least one analyst thinks 4-Gbit/s is ramping, but it's too soon to make great claims. "Four-gig is rapidly growing, and I'd sure hope that Engenio would see double-digit growth from a new product," says analyst Greg Shultz of the Evaluator Group. But, while it's nice to see growth in 4-Gbit/s SANs, HBAs, and switches, the industry is only just starting to rise, he maintains.

A major stimulant to 4-Gbit/s FC will come when disk drive interfaces are available to match the speed, Shultz says. That should happen when companies like Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi GST) and Seagate Technology Inc. (NYSE: STX) start shipping 4-Gbit/s drives, which he thinks may occur later this fall.

Right now, Engenio uses 2-Gbit/s drive interfaces, and Seigle says customers get at least two times the performance with 4-Gbit/s even without 4-Gbit/s drives. "Performance increases in many dimensions even without the drives," he says.

Seigle isn't worried that 4-Gbit/s ramp-up will be threatened by the rise of other technologies. InfiniBand, he says, is still mainly relegated to high-performance computing and may be offered by Engenio in the future. iSCSI sales are increasing but not significantly. And as for 10-Gbit/s Ethernet, "It's too early."— Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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