QLogic Picks Up Troika

Looks to use virtualization technology in small to midrange enterprise switches

October 20, 2005

3 Min Read
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QLogic has acquired intelligent switch appliance startup Troika Networks for $36.5 million and will try to give smaller enterprises looking for virtualization an lower cost alternative to EMCs Invista.

In announcing the deal Tuesday night, QLogic CEO H.K. Desai said QLogic will sell Troika’s virtualization products through OEMs. But he made it clear that he is targeting small and medium enterprises, while EMC tries to push Invista into large enterprises. (See EMC Unveils Invista.)

The deal can be good news for users that want an intelligent switch for virtualization, but are too small for Invista or are tired of waiting for EMC to build full functionality into its appliance.

Although Troika was shipping products, many organizations are reluctant to place mission-critical data on hardware from a startup. Others have settled on other virtualization options, such as IBM’s in-band SAN Volume Controller (SVC) appliance or Hitachi’s TagmaStore, which does virtualization in the array. (See Richmond Goes Virtual.)

At a virtualization panel at the Storage Decisions tradeshow earlier this month, Nationwide Insurance storage architect Alan Grantham said he prefers intelligent switches for virtualization. (See Users Wait for Switch Virtualization .) However, he didn’t consider Invista ready yet because EMC is just starting to ship its long-awaited appliance.“I like to think we will use virtualization to improve utilization, improve operating system performance, and also for some parts of disaster recovery,” Grantham said. “It has to be in the switch for us because we have a heterogeneous model.”

Like EMC's Invista, Troika's appliance is out-of-band and built on the SPAID (split path acceleration of independent data streams) architecture. (See Spaid Breaks Ground.)

EMC has partnered with the three major switch vendors -- Brocade, Cisco, and McData -- on Invista, but QLogic now can strike its own intelligent switch deals with storage vendors. QLogic primarily sells HBAs though OEM deals with Dell, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, IBM, Network Appliance, and Sun Microsystems, but has steadily moved into the switch space over the past year with low-end Fibre Channel and blade server switches. (See IBM Bolsters 4-Gbit/s Blades and QLogic Pulls a Switch Deal.) QLogic sold its controller business to Marvell Technology in July for $225 million to concentrate on HBAs and switches. (See QLogic Gives Up Controllers.)

Cisco is another candidate for selling QLogic’s new low-end virtualization switch. Cisco is expected to announce a deal to sell QLogic’s 4-Gbit/s switches next week. (See Cisco & QLogic: Headed for Huddle.)

An industry analyst with knowledge of the details of the acqusition says QLogic will maintain Troika’s reseller deal with Sun. The analyst expects EMC to be one of its OEM partners for the new appliance. “I don’t think QLogic would’ve done the deal unless they had a commitment from EMC,” says the analyst.Troika, which closed a $14.4 million funding round in July for a total of $27.4 million, claims a bit more than 20 customers while competing in a field that has been tough on startups waiting for the market to develop. (See Troika Takes in $14.4M.) Candera and Sandial folded last year, and EMC picked up the intellectual property of Maranti Networks after it ceased business. (See Candera's Closed, Sandial's Out, and EMC to Buy Rainfinity.) The QLogic-Troika deal leaves Maxxan Systems as the only intelligent switch startup still standing.

Troika’s CEO Bill Terrell and its engineering team are expected to join QLogic.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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