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NetApp's Host To Server FCoE With Brocade, QLogic

NetAPP, along with QLogic and Brocade, have announced the first FCoE
end-to-end product set. Using converged network adapters from QLogic or
Brocade, Brocade FCoE switches and NetAPP appliances, organizations
can run FCoE from server to storage. The Brocade partnership is in
addition to an existing reseller agreement with Cisco to resell the
Nexus 5010 and 5020 switches. Essentially, NetAPP qualified Brocades
switches and CNA's to work with their NAS products.

Mike McNamara, Product Marketing Manager with NetAPP, said in an interview that the majority of ports NetAPP is shipping are 1Gb; they are seeing an acceleration in 10GB Ethernet ports driven largely by server virtualization. The FCoE PCIe adapter can be added to existing NetAPP FAS 3000, FAS 3100, FAS 6000, FAS2050, V6000, and V3100 appliances providing both FC and FCoE on the same adapter. Both FC and FCoE share the same software license. The drivers for the adapter are the same for both FC and FCoE adapters, so no software modifications are needed on the operating system. Since Qlogic's CNA is a single chip product, it runs cooler and with less power than multi-chip CAN's. IBM has already selected the QLogic chip for their CNA for IBM's System X and BladeCenter.

NetAPP is OEMing QLogic's 8152 CNA, rebranding it as NetAPPs Unified Target Adapter for host connectivity. Qlogic's 8052 off-loads Fibre Channel and Fibre Channel over Ethernet to the CNA, freeing up processing time on the CPU. Since the CNA can support both FC and FCoE, organizations can follow a phased migration path. McNamara said they have 20 customers in pilot projects.

Brocade is also announcing a partnership with NetAPP where NetAPP will resell Brocade's 8000 FCoE switch and Brocades 1020 CNAs. The Brocade 8000 has 24 10Gb FCoE ports and 8 8Gb FC ports that can connect directly to a SAN.  Both the 8000 and CNAs will available from NetAPP in August. Brocade's FCoE blade, the FCoE10-24, inserts into Brocades DCX and DCX-4S switching platform. The FCoE 10-24 has 24 10Gb ports and supports both Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) and FCoE. The DCX uses a FC blade to connect directly to a SAN, if required. Both the 8000 and FCoE 10-24 blade allow organizations to migrate to FCoE while maintaining FC connections. Unfortunately, the first iteration of the NetAPP/Brocade integration won't feature node auto discovery, so FCoE targets will have to be configured manually. Discovery is something NetAPP and Brocade are discussing.

FCoE is useful because it can simplify cabling and switching requirements for storage and data networking, but the standards work in the IEEE 802.1 Data Center Bridging Task Group,  adding congestion notification (802.1Qau), transmission selection (802.1Qaz) and flow control (802.1Qbb) to make Ethernet lossless and provide flow control is still underway. Meanwhile, the IETF Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL) working group is standardizing multi-path Ethernet routing which allows, unlike the spanning tree deployed today, for multiple paths active through a network for increased performance and redundant connectivity. The standards work might take another year to finalize.  Until then, Brocade is still recommending -- and we agree -- that if you want to use FCoE, use it for  server to switch access, converting to FC to the storage array. Or use FCoE in pilot projects or for lower priority storage.