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10GbE: Where Money Talks And Hype Walks

Nearly everyone agrees that the 10GbE adapter market will be big. The latest forecast from the Dell'Oro Group says the market will quadruple over the next four years, reaching about $800 million. It's no wonder everyone from Broadcom to Mellanox wants a piece of the action. However, no company more than Emulex has tried to position itself as "the" 10GbE adapter company. The question is, has it worked? I don't think so.

For the past year, Emulex has heavily marketed Ethernet, Ethernet and more Ethernet. We get it: Emulex is betting on Ethernet. In my opinion, Emulex believes Ethernet is the only protocol, with no room for anything else in the data center, and it's going all in on 10GbE. So when the latest Dell'Oro 10GbE market share data was released, I received a number of inquiries on why Emulex wasn't ranked near the top. In other words, why doesn't Emulex's talk match the market analysis?

It appears that Emulex may have lost its grip on market reality. The company's broad-based claims of an extensive 10GbE focus don't match up to their performance in the 10GbE adapter market or the FCoE-specific 10GbE adapter market. In the latest Dell'Oro data, Intel ranks number one. QLogic is number two in total 10GbE adapter market share, at 15.7 percent. As for Emulex, it ranked fifth. Fifth place? All that talk about market traction and market share leadership in 10GbE and FCoE and they're not even in the top three? There's a real disconnect between sales execution and marketing hype over at Emulex.

If 10GbE is the route to the future, and customers are lining up to buy it, it sure doesn't look like Emulex and its awkwardly positioned UCNA are their top choice. I also noticed that Dell'Oro says QLogic has 58 percent of the market share in 10GbE FCoE-specific CNAs. That's nearly 20 points ahead of Emulex. This share split is about the same as the one that exists in the Fibre Channel adapter market between these two companies. It appears as though history is repeating itself in this new 10GbE market. Where I come from, customers vote with their money. Regardless of which 10GbE adapter you prefer, the market measurements speak for themselves.

I'd also like to comment on Dell'Oro's tracking of 10GbE adapters. For months, Emulex has been touting market share leadership in FCoE and 10GbE adapters, quoting some firms that I, and many of my industry contacts, have never heard of.  Dell'Oro has been tracking the adapter market for over a decade. Their research methodology is proven and--in my opinion--unrivaled. Also, where is the latest CNA market share data from the other research firms that measure the Ethernet adapter market? I haven't seen any other 10GbE market analysis for Q2CY10 besides Dell'Oro's.