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Brocade Adds Server Connectivity to Storage Mix

In a move that almost seems designed to show how desperately it needs to move into markets beyond Fibre Channel, Brocade is releasing a Fibre Channel adapter as well as an iSCSI initiator. It isn't clear whether Brocade has OEM'd the Fibre Channel adapter or has developed its own. Either way, the company is venturing into a low-margin market virtually sewn up by Emulex and QLogic. Considering how conservative some storage buyers are, Brocade will have difficulty moving its FC HBAs. The iSCSI initiator is an interesting product for a company considered to be the High Church of Fibre Channel. It shows that iSCSI is a real threat to FC. Brocade's products here will get attention only from customers that lack sufficient flexibility of thinking that iSCSI cards have to come from pure storage companies.

Brocade's plans to offer 8-Gbps Fibre Channel will likely come to naught. 4 Gbps hasn't been out that long and 10 Gigabit Ethernet on iSCSI is the logical progression. 8-Gbps Fibre Channel is likely to be an expensive aberration that achieves little or no market penetration. The last part of Brocade's announcement regarding its plans to introduce 10 Gigabit Ethernet offerings is not only a tacit admission that FC is not a long-term technology but an exercise in desperation. The 10 Gigabit Ethernet market is one of the most competitive switching environments out there and dominated by Cisco to boot. On the 10 Gigabit Ethernet adapter front, new companies like NetXen and veterans such as Broadcom are much better positioned to take advantage of the market. Brocade's overtures towards 10 Gigabit Ethernet are going to be too little and too late with everyone else already competing. Brocade's storage acumen will get them some adherents, but it won't be enough to make the company a 10 Gigabit Ethernet player, even in storage.
S.J. Schuchart
Managing Technology Editor

Storage vendor Brocade this week added a new family of server-connectivity adapters to its product lineup, calling them a "natural extension" of its products.

The new Brocade offerings include HBAs (host bus adapters) and intelligent server adapters designed to help IT address data center consolidation, the vendor said. Such products are used to connect servers to storage and other data center resources--letting IT more flexibly manage and consolidate capacity.

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