HBA Guys Switch Gears

Emulex, QLogic score design wins with switching products

September 15, 2004

3 Min Read
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Dont expect Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX) and QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC) to quit their day jobs selling HBAs anytime soon, but they’re increasingly moonlighting as switch vendors.

Emulex today announced that NEC is using the entry-level SAN switch it launched last week; and QLogic revealed it expanded its blade server switch relationship with IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM). (See NEC Uses Emulex Switches and QLogic Unveils IBM Blade Switch.)

Both HBA vendors have been active in the switch area recently. Emulex unveiled four design wins over the past week with its entry-level SAN and InSpeed embedded switches, while QLogic has been pushing to score OEM deals with Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) and Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL) for its entry-level SANbox switch family (see QLogic Pulls a Switch Deal).

It makes sense for the HBA vendors to try and broaden their base. According to market research firm Dell'Oro Group, overall HBA revenue slipped 7 percent from the first to the second quarter of this year, while switch revenue remained flat (see SAN Market Revenues Slip).

For the most part, Emulex and QLogic have gone after the underserved SMB and blade server switch markets. Only Brocade has made much progress in either of those emerging storage markets among the Fibre Channel switch vendors (see Brocade Dazzler Starts Low, HP Aims to Dazzle SMBs, and IBM Plugs Brocade Into Blades)."The recent development of the market for low-end switches is an opportunity, and QLogic and Emulex are as well equipped to take advantage of this opportunity as the traditional switch vendors,” says financial analyst Steve Berg of Punk Ziegel & Co.

Emulex rolled out 12- and 20-port entry-level SAN switches last week (see Emulex Launches Entry-Level SAN). Since then, it has scored design wins with IBM and NEC (see IBM Launches iSCSI SAN). IBM is using a modified 10-port version in its TotalStorage DS400 low-end Fibre Channel SAN, and NEC offers the 12- and 20-ports switches with its server clustering products. Bob Brencic, Emulex’s director of marketing for InSpeed switches, says another Tier 1 OEM deal is coming soon.

Emulex’s switches are built on technology acquired from Vixel in 2003 (see Emulex Drops Cash for Vixel). It has been selling back-end switch-on-a-chip products for about two years. In the new SAN switches, Emulex moved the chip into a front-end switch.

The new switches are really low-end, even compared to Brocade’s entry-level fabric switch used in SMB SANs from HP and Dell. They support 2 GBytes per second speed, and cost less than $200 per port -- about one quarter the price of traditional fabric switches.

"We’re targeting almost the iSCSI space," Brencic says. “It’s very low end with limited features. Our customers are doing DAS replacement for storage consolidation."Emulex also announced deals with Engenio Information Technologies Inc. and Fujitsu Ltd. (OTC: FJTSY; Tokyo: 6702) for its back-end InSpeed SOC 320 last week. Engenio is using the embedded switches for the first time. Fujitsu, which previously used the switches in its high-end storage systems, added them to its midrange systems (see Fujitsu Selects Emulex and Engenio Targets ILM).

QLogic has the first 6-port switch available on IBM blades. IBM also sells a 2-port Brocade switch on its blades, but the 6-port configuration allows customers to connect directly to storage without using a second switch. The 6-port blade switch costs $15,000.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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