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Emulex and IBM to ship virtual NIC

Emulex executives said yesterday that IBM has qualified a new Virtual Fabric Adapter for BladeCenter servers, which will allow the consolidation of Ethernet and Fibre Channel connections.

The Virtual Fabric Adapter is a virtual Network Interface Card (NIC) that goes into each blade server in the BladeCenter chassis. Rather than the typical four to six separate IP ports and two Fibre Channel ports, the VFA will run Gigabit Ethernet and Fibre Channel over Ethernet traffic streams over four 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Emulex has also added support for Blade Networks’ 10 GbE switch, which connects the BladeCenter to the wider corporate network.

IBM previously announced it will also resell converged networking products from Cisco, Brocade and QLogic. IBM officials also said at the time of that announcement there were plans to add products from Emulex as well, but specifics were not made public until this week.

NetApp is the only storage vendor to announce native Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) interfaces on its disk arrays so far. EMC Corp. and IBM partner LSI Corp. have said they don’t expect significant traction for FCoE in storage arrays until next year. Analysts say they don’t expect FCoE to reach a ‘tipping point’ over Fibre Channel until at least 2011.

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