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Emulex focuses on ‘Convergenomics’

Emulex today disclosed its next round of convergence products – universal converged network adapters (UCNAs) and a management framework — as well as encryption for its Fibre Channel HBAs.

If you were just getting familiar with converged network adapters (CNAs), you might be thrown by the concept of a universal CNA. The difference is, according to Emulex VP of corporate marketing Shaun Walsh, a CNA only supports Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) while a UCNA combines FCoE, 10-gig Ethernet, iSCSI offload and RDMA in one chip. Walsh says he expects Emulex OEM partners to begin selling its OneConnect CNAs in the second half of the year.

To manage devices for a converged network, Emulex will replace its HBAnywhere HBA software with a OneCommand platform. OneCommand will manage UCNAs as well as Emulex LightPulse HBAs.

Storage networking vendors are rushing to position their convergence devices in anticipation of FCoE and other methods of getting Ethernet, Fibre Channel and even InfiniBand to work together on one network. Mellanox launched its BridgeX gateway this week to let customers use any or all of those fabrics together.

It’s still up for debate as to how soon enterprises will begin consolidation, but Walsh says “convergenomics” will push them there faster than they would normally adopt new technology. Emulex is counting on customers looking to implement converged networks because it will save them money on cabling, power and cooling and rack space.

“It will be a phase thing,” Walsh says. “We’ll see first-generation products implemented this year, then the second generation will be when OEMs start to endorse those and put them in their product lines. Normally, I would say three to five years before it becomes mainstream, but given the economic situation, I’d say two to three years in this case.”

In the next few months, we’ll get an idea of whether convergenomics will stimulate storage spending or become storage voodonomics, but you can bet there will be no shortage of convergence product rollouts.

Encryption is another hot topic these days, with two standards proposals for key management being set forth this week. Emulex wasn’t involved with either of those, but its new Secure HBA uses encryption and key management from EMC’s RSA Security.

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