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Monday, August 21, 2006

So where are the storage HBA vendors?

If I were Qlgc or Emlx, I would be helping create the standards for NAS over RDMA and helping to implement it in at least the open source operating systems (Linux and Solaris). Both vendors currently advertise iSCSI HBAs on their website but, the problem is, datacenter managers don't want to build iSCSI SANs. They want to build IP SANs that can run all the interesting storage ULPs including NFS and CIFS. So, a key requirement for buying expensive storage NICs is they must be optimized (translated: RDMA-enabled) for all these ULPs. If these guys don't build this product, the NIC vendors will, and Q and Emlx risk falling into the same situation where McBrocade is relative to Cisco.

I/O device vendors could be among the biggest beneficiaries of the open-source movement if they only realized it. For most of their life, their value-add has been limited to the small set of features the OS geeks enable in their DDI (device driver interface). Now, for the first time these IHVs have the chance to participate in architecting and creating the operating system so it enables new features and functions in the hardware. NFS over RDMA is a perfect example of this but, from what I can tell, the Linux and Solaris communities are doing all their development using IB because those are the only RDMA-capable adapters they have.

Oh, and I think NAS via RDMA will be so compelling that MS will be forced to implement it in Windows so don't assume that helping create the technology in open source only gets you the Linux and Solaris business.

By the way, I didn't mention LSI because they have a great future with SAS. The more I look at SAS the more I like it for SMB and WG SANs. It has the right level of connectivity with the simplicity and low cost of SCSI. One key enabler is SAS is already being designed onto motherboards - something that has really hurt FC adoption for small SANs.