Qlogic Shrinks SAN Switch

A tiny switch, HBAs, and software can give you a Fibre Channel SAN for under $4K. You in?

July 20, 2005

2 Min Read
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QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC) has made it official: Half its focus is on SMBs. And to get things started, it's unveiling a pint-sized Fibre Channel switch.

In a move that's no surprise, the company has announced the "bifurcation" of its product line. On one side will be a series for small- to medium-sized business customers, dubbed SAN Express. Higher-end enterprise gear will be SAN Pro.

This isn't news. Qlogic's been obsessed with small SANs for a couple of years. Last winter, an OEM deal with Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) produced the HP StorageWorks Modular Smart Array (MSA) 1000 Small Business SAN Kit (see HP and QLogic Aim Low). You'll see some elements of that announcement, including the SANsurfer management software and QLA200 HBAs, take up SAN Express residence now.

But Qlogic's not just warming up old goods. The centerpiece of SAN Express is the SANbox Express 1400, a spanking new Fibre Channel switch, Qlogic's tiniest ever. Based on a new chip integrated with an IBM Power PC processor, it takes up half a rack slot, is 6 inches deep, and weighs 2 pounds. Did we mention that it has ten 2-Gbit/s ports?

You read that right: Qlogic isn't leading with its signature 4-Gbit/s this time. While the vendor says 4-Gbit/s may be added to the 1400 next year, the users Qlogic's interested in only heard about SANs last week. For them, Ethernet's the network of choice at 1-Gbit/s or less, and direct-attached storage has done fine until now.This is the crew likely to be tempted by iSCSI SAN arrays, most notably from EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), whose own SMB program launched back in March (see EMC Courts SMBs).

Can Qlogic compete effectively for SMB budgetshare against the Hopkinton behemoth? Qlogic's hedging its bets in an area where EMC has trouble staying small -- price. A Qlogic SAN Express Starter Kit, including two HBAs, software, and a 1400 switch is on sale now for $3,295.

Of course, you'll need to bring your own FC SAN, but there are plenty out there from Qlogic OEMs, including HP and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM). Ironically, two other Qlogic OEMs, EMC and Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL), also have small FC SANs. Perhaps they'll add this one as an FC alternative to their iSCSI mainstays for SMBs.

How many of Qlogic's OEMs will adopt the new gear remains to be seen. Qlogic's marketing VP Frank Berry says at least one should make an announcement soon, though mum's the word on ID. HP seems likeliest, though, given that its MSA 1000 contains others SAN Express elements.

An HP spokesman declined to comment on future plans.Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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