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No Doubt: Network Connectivity Is A Heavyweight Bout

Last week was a busy week in the world of network connectivity, and this week appears to be shaping up to be a watershed moment for the connectivity market as a whole. Last week, my colleagues at the Dell'Oro group published their market share estimates for Fibre Channel connectivity products and made mention, via caveat, of some FCoE volume estimates. Some of the vendors mentioned in the Dell'Oro report subsequently sent out press releases heralding their respective successes.

On November 11th, HP announced its intent to purchase 3Com. That left me wondering just how far down the purchase path HP took Brocade before finally deciding to lock in on 3Com.  On the surface, HP appears to be elated at its decision and shows no outward sign of buyer's remorse. As we all know now, Brocade is "NOT FOR SALE."  I, for one, am glad that Brocade, and none of its product groups, are currently for sale so that customers continue to have choice in the marketplace.

I wanted to take a moment and review two items that I feel need a bit more clarification. First, with regard to my October 20th blog, EMC did have Brocade in their test labs and did subsequently list them in their support matrix in early November. Unfortunately, EMC was uncharacteristically slow in getting Brocade listed into their over 12,000 page support matrix document - Kudos to EMC, they do an unbelievable amount of interoperability testing.

Second, I wanted to be clear that I still believe QLogic has stepped into the FCoE ring and is battling it out with their competitors. (And, no, they didn't pay me to key this in.) It's pretty clear that with an exclusive CNA chip design win with the IBM Power Systems and a design win at NetApp where the company places its CNA in the target mode within the NetApp array controller, and qualification as a host card with NetApp, QLogic continues to deliver competitive punch after punch.  Now, to be fair, it must be said that Brocade has connected with a solid body shot, securing qualification as the host card in conjunction with NetApp storage array deployments. I still believe that a "Quick Network Connectivity Products Comparison" table would be extremely helpful for users as they consider the current spread of product offerings.  If you think it's a good idea, comment here and we can give it some further consideration for development.

It is my opinion that Cisco's entry into the compute space has forced former systems partners - now competitors to Cisco - such as IBM, SUN, SGI, HP, etc., to reassess their adapter card and switch partner alignments. Broadcom, Brocade, Emulex, Mellanox, QLogic, Voltaire and others will see measurable Ethernet adapter and switch sales improvements throughout 2010 and beyond. Conversely, should Cisco's plans for compute and the new VMware, Cisco, EMC coalition (VCE)  ramp quickly, Cisco's switch sales metrics may only display a small bump in the road.  In my next two blogs I'll take a closer look at Voltaire and then switch gears and take some time to review what FalconStor is up to these days.