SNW: Vendors Fire Up FCOE Efforts

Cisco finally buys Nuova on a busy day for FCOE

April 9, 2008

3 Min Read
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Cisco, Intel, Emulex, and QLogic made a host of announcements around Fibre Channel Over Ethernet (FCOE) here today, encompassing acquisitions, product launches, and storage partnerships.

Cisco was one of the first vendors up, finally grabbing the remaining 20 percent of its FCOE subsidiary Nuova Systems, and unveiling its Nexus 5000 FCOE unified fabric switch.

For the customers, FCOE is ready and real," said Jackie Ross, Nuova’s vice president of partner ecosystems, explaining that Cisco’s acquisition is expected to close sometime in the next quarter.

Cisco had already owned some 80 percent of Nuova, and the exec explained that the acquisition is a “success-based” deal, with the ultimate purchase price based on sales of the vendor’s FCOE products.

Cisco first’s FCOE offering is the Nexus 5020, a two rack-unit high, 40-port fabric switch, which offers both 10 Gbit/s Ethernet and FCOE.”The switch is the first switch in the industry to deliver a unified fabric,” said Ross, explaining that the hardware will be available next month. “You have the ability to implement 10 Gig this year and then, as your requirements grow, you have the ability with a software license key, to add FCOE to your switch.”

Pricing for the 5020 will be $900 per port for 10 Gbit/s Ethernet, but the vendor has not yet revealed its per-port pricing for FCOE.

During a two-hour press conference today, Cisco was joined on stage by a constantly changing cast of characters, many of whom nailed their own colors to the FCOE mast.

Intel cranked up its FCOE efforts with the announcement of an FCOE initiator that that will be bundled with 10 Gbit/s Ethernet PCI-Express adapters. The vendor also unveiled an FCOE-capable copper adapter.

”There’s a couple of things that are really driving the need to move to unified networking,” said Tom Swinford, general manager of Intel’s LAN access business. “One thing is virtualization and the other is multi-core processors.”The dual-port adapter will be will be in volume production in May, priced at $799, according to the vendor.

Emulex used today’s mammoth FCOE press conference to unveil its LightPulse LP21000 family of converged network adapters (CNAs).

Touting the ability for users to now expand their SANs with FCOE, Ameesh Divatia, general manager of Emulex’s intelligent network products explained the single-port LP21000 and the dual-port LP21002 will be available this quarter.

The vendor was less forthcoming on the subject of pricing, and Divatia confirmed only that this will only be announced when the adapter becomes available.

NetApp reiterated its commitment to FCOE during today’s event, with Joel Reich, the vendor’s vice president and general manager of the vendor’s SAN business unit. “We started talking about a concept at our analyst day last month called Ethernet storage,” he said. “We see FCOE not only as a migration path for Fibre Channel, but we also see it as one of those things that dovetails very well with iSCSI.”Qlogic used today’s event to launch its 8000 Series family of network adapters, although the vendor did not reveal pricing or availability details.

At least one early adopter is nonetheless using the adapter, as well as Cisco’s 5020 switch, and NetApp storage. “We’re looking at it as an option for moving forward,” said Rich Tallmadge, an engineer at CNBC, adding that FCOE would remove the need to add more cables to his already stretched infrastructure.

Because FCOE runs over Ethernet, users can use their existing cabling, although the exec admits that he is still very much at the evaluation stage. “It’s too early to say what it is like performance-wise, we have only had it for two weeks,” he said.

Despite all the vendor hype surrounding FCOE today, the emerging nature of the technology was underlined by lack of consensus when the standard is likely to be ratified, with estimates stretching from late 2008 to mid 2009.

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  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX)

  • NetApp Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Nuova Systems Inc.

  • QLogic Corp.

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