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QLogic Adds 5 Years To Fibre Channel

On Sept. 28, QLogic extended its Adaptive Convergence Strategy by announcing a new portfolio of products, including FlexSuite adapters, Universal Access Point switches and iSR Intelligent Storage Routers. The strategy and new products represent some important advancements in converged networking.

For example, powering the new FlexSuite adapters is one chip which that the capabilities of a Fibre Channel host bus adapter (HBA) and a converged network adapter (CNA), functions that used to require two separate chips. Now, one card can be configured as a Fibre Channel HBA or a CNA, an example of what QLogic calls Adaptive Convergence.

The UA5900 Universal Access Point switch from QLogic represent a new class of top-of-rack (TOR) switch, with a set of features and a price that uniquely position the switches to sit TOR of any rack in a data center. Until now, Ethernet switches sat on top-of-server racks, while Fibre Channel switches sat on top-of-storage racks. Universal Access Switches support Fibre Channel switching, Fibre Channel over Ethernet switching and Ethernet LAN switching, all in one aggressively priced stackable switch. One switch can be configured as a TOR switch for a server rack or a TOR switch for a storage rack, another example of adaptive convergence.

New QLogic iSR routers are used to bridge servers and storage speaking different languages over a LAN in a data center or over a WAN in the cloud. QLogic iSR routers are especially valuable to IT professionals in large data centers who are constantly migrating data from old systems to new systems. With the ability to bridge Fibre Channel, iSCSI and Fibre Channel over Ethernet servers and storage, an iSR router accelerates and simplifies traditional methods of data migration, such as backup and restore.

In each product, support for Fibre Channel SANs is combined with what used to define a converged network device--support for 10 Gbit Ethernet LANs, Fibre Channel over Ethernet SANs and iSCSI SANs. That means the new definition for a full-featured converged networking adapter, or switch, now includes support for native Fibre Channel.

All of the new QLogic products feature support for 16-Gbit Fibre Channel, the latest and fastest generation of the SAN technology that has dominated large data centers since 2000. Three years ago, I argued that by 2011, Fibre Channel over Ethernet would surpass Fibre Channel as the SAN technology of choice in large enterprises. Today, FCoE has taken hold with early adopters, while 4-Gbit Fibre Channel and 8-Gbit Fibre Channel are shipping in approximately equal high volumes. Given that 16-Gbit Fibre Channel will maintain a performance advantage over 10-Gbit iSCSI and Fibre Channel over Ethernet SANs, QLogic has just added five years to the healthy life of Fibre Channel in large data centers.