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VARs like QLogic's new storage products, question support

Resellers applaud QLogic's move into high-end switches, routers and InfiniBand HBAs but hope that the company steps up its resources to support the more technical products.

DALLAS -- QLogic Corp. unveiled several new high-end switches and host bus adapters (HBAs) at its Fusion 2006 worldwide partner conference in Dallas this week, receiving applause from around 400 or more channel partners.

By and large, QLogic's resellers are pleased that the company is filling in the gaps in its portfolio for high-end SANs, but they are concerned that the firm steps up its support in conjunction with the availability of these more technical products.

"This is very heavy, technical stuff," said Werner Habicht, director of sales for Zeta Computer in Germany, referring to the new SANbox 6000 storage router and SANbox 8000 storage services platform. "It's not just components that we can just sell it and forget, the dream of every reseller, now we really have to explain to the customer why they need it, and it's way more complicated than what we've been selling before."

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Habicht added that QLogic's support staff in Europe is thin on the ground and barely sufficient to deal with existing queries. "We will need much more training and support …Today I can say roughly what this new product does but that won't let me sell $100,000 worth of equipment."

New products introduced at Fusion 2006 include the SANbox 5000 96-port stackable switch, SANbox 6000 Intelligent Storage Router, SANbox 8000 Storage Services Platform (from the Troika acquisition), SANbox 9000 multi-layer, multi-protocol switch and InfiniPath InfiniBand HBA (from the Pathscale acquisition).

"It's great to see them move into the core," said Edward Mann, senior storage architect with Vion Corp., a reseller focused on the federal government. "People don't want different core and edge switches." He said he believes QLogic has a perception issue in the marketplace to overcome as customers only associate the company with low-end switches. Vion recently tried to sell QLogic's 20-port, 4 Gbps Fibre Channel (FC) switch to a customer, but they weren't interested. Instead, Vion sold them the Cisco System Inc. MDS 9020, which is an OEM version of the exact same product from QLogic. "It has the Cisco logo on it and that made the customer feel good," Mann said.

To sell into large-scale deployments, Mann said he agrees that QLogic must staff up its training and support, and on the technical side support FICON. "That's very important to our users," he added.

Apple Corp. reseller ProMax Systems Inc. is "after all the help [it] can get" on the support side, according to president and CEO Daniel Hatch. ProMax sells QLogic switches alongside Apple equipment to the video industry to customers, including Disney, Warner Bros. and Fox Broadcasting Co. "We need high performance, whatever the latest speeds and feeds are, and we need 24/7 services and remote support," Hatch said.

QLogic's vice president of marketing, Frank Berry, notes that the company recently signed a global services and support agreement with Lucent Technologies (now owned by Alcatel). "If you send an email in French, you get a reply in French." He added that every major OEM is now selling QLogic switches, which will help with the perception issues in the market.

Product details

  • SANBox 5000 stackable switch now scales up to six switches or 96-ports. Each member of a stack is connected via a dedicated 10 Gbit stack interconnect. The stackable switch architecture allows SAN administrators to build large fabrics and not waste switch ports for interswitch links. All SANbox stackable switch configurations feature wizard-based configuration and can be managed as a single switch.

  • SANBox 6000 Intelligent Storage Router is an iSCSI to FC router to attach low-cost servers to the FC SAN, enabling replication over long distances for disaster recovery.

  • SANbox 8000 Storage Services Platform is a network-based switch for storage services, such as virtualization and continuous data protection. To support these services, the SANbox 8000 can host a variety of storage applications from software vendors such as CA Inc., Revivio Inc. and StoreAge Networking Technologies.

    SANbox 8000 attaches to the SAN as an end node (N-Port), which enables it to remain SAN (and SAN vendor) independent, QLogic said.

  • SANbox 9000 multi-layer, multi-protocol switch is a 4U chassis that supports eight 4 Gbps switch blades for a total of 128 ports. It can also support eight 10 Gbps switch blades for a total of 32 ports. It will provide iSCSI and FCIP blades for bridging and routing. And for volume management, data replication and other storage applications, users will be able to plug in the Storage Services Platform as a blade.

  • InfiniPath InfiniBand host channel adapters are the new HBAs for cluster interconnects. InfiniPath supports more than 10 million messages per second, which is over six times more messages per second than any other cluster interconnect, QLogic claims.

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