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NetApp Steps Up To The Plate With The Big FCoE Bat

While many storage system vendors have been talking about the benefits of FCoE and highlighting it as a strategic growth area, it appears now that NetApp is the first storage vendor to actually step up to the plate and embed native single chip, production-grade FCoE connectivity in its storage arrays. In fact, everything from the NetApp FAS3000 to the high-end FAS6000 to the V Series virtualization controllers will now offer an embedded NetApp Unified Target Adapter (they will be using the QLogic 8152 CNA). This strengthens the company's unified storage strategy and provides the latest in connectivity options to customers at a time when lowering connectivity costs are becoming exceedingly important.  Other vendors seem to be still trying to make the leap from 4Gb FC to 8Gb.

One would think the smaller storage array vendors would be more nimble in terms of bringing the latest connectivity options to market. NetApp not only beats them to the punch, but must have caught the big enterprise players by surprise as well. NetApp is now able to deliver its unified storage strategy to customers—integrating Ethernet, FCoE, FC, and iSCSI all unified in a single system—while others are either not talking about FCoE or are unclear as to when it will really be available on there lineup. It's time to get it together guys. It's time to start providing native FCoE connectivity and unify your storage connectivity message and bring a single 10Gb E offering out soon. Users see this as a requirement this year, and they will gravitate to storage vendors who bring this connectivity to market quickly.

Also, this announcement brings up the question:  What is Emulex doing? For a company that claims they have captured "14 design wins" for their "UCNA," I have yet to see a single company tied to these wins. Who exactly are they selling to? How about some names? One has to wonder about these mysterious design wins. They are noticeably absent from today's NetApp FCoE news. Brocade is the secondary CNA qualified by NetApp today and also scored a number of FCoE switch wins as part of its overall deal. They were also missing from IBM's recent FCoE news, which also included Brocade and QLogic. To me, a big question here is, is Emulex really ready to survive as a standalone company given current economic conditions? Or will Emulex end up as roadkill on the information technology highway? Just the other day, I heard a colleague say "Emulex, speak up, we can't hear you...others are drowning you out with their announcements."

The market is heating up quickly.  It seems safe to believe that the Autumn months will bring even more announcements of storage vendor additions of FCoE capabilities to their line up.  Who will announce next?  From the connectivity perspective, it appears that this is becoming a two-horse race:  QLogic and Brocade.  QLogic providing the single chip CNAs and Brocade providing FCoE switching gear.

As a user, where are you with FCoE?  Considering? Architecting?  Have some deployed?  Deploying throughout?  In and running and happy?  Do you feel that it is time to take the steps to get to a single management interface?