Emulex announces multi-protocol SAN/LAN interface cards

Emulex has announced a multi-protocol network adaptor card that allows servers to connect to back-end storage via Ethernet using several storage protocols.

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Emulex has announced a multi-protocol network adaptor card that allows servers to connect to back-end storage via Ethernet using several storage protocols.

Those protocols include Fibre Channel. The card will function while also off-loading TCP/IP traffic.

The company also announced a partnership with RSA that allows it to offer host-based encryption and key management through a new host bus adaptor (HBA) card.

OneConnect is a single-chip card that Emulex is calling a "Universal Converged Network Adapter (UCNA)." The card offers up to 10Gbit/sec. throughput on Ethernet, or 8Gbit/sec. Fibre Channel. The UCNA also supports Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and Internet SCSI (iSCSI), and network-attached storage protocols for connectivity for storage over IP networks. Emulex said the OneConnect UCNA is designed for use in server virtualisation environments.

The OneConnect UCNA comes with Emulex's VEngine firmware, a CPU offload engine that provides virtual adapter port count and quality of service bandwidth allocation, which enables greater virtual machine consolidation with more VMs per CPU, Emulex said.

The card offers up to 10Gbit/sec. throughput on Ethernet, or 8Gbit/sec. Fibre Channel. The UCNA also supports Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and Internet SCSI (iSCSI), and network-attached storage protocols for connectivity for storage over IP networks.

Emulex said the OneConnect UCNAs will ship sometime in the second half of this year. They will deliver wire speed performance in full-duplex mode of operation, regardless of the mix of protocol traffic.

"Just as storage has gone through a consolidation period and servers have gone through consolidation with virtualisation and blades, we're starting to see the same thing happen with networks," said Sean Walsh, Emulex's vice president of corporate marketing.

Emulex is claiming its OneConnect UCNA can provide up to 28% savings on the switches, network adapters and rack space required, 42% savings on power and cooling, and 80% savings on cabling because it can transport storage and LAN traffic over one wire.

"As virtualisation is using up the CPU resources that used to be available for running software drivers and that sort of thing, and as you aggregate I/O with eight or 10 of these machines running on a single blade, you're 1Gbit/sec. iSCSI or even 2Gbit/sec. or 4Gbit/sec. Fibre Channel isn't going to be enough," Walsh said. "You're going to need higher bandwidth. Obviously, if you're doing this over networks, you're going to need higher network connectivity."

Walsh placed the UCNA in the same category of SAN/LAN convergence products as Cisco Systems 's Nexus 5000 switch, which also consolidates Ethernet and Fibre Channel traffic and is targeted at virtual server infrastructures.

Arun Taneja, founder and consulting analyst with The Taneja Group, said LAN/SAN technology is still far from being adopted in the data centre.

Currently, most IT managers in large, enterprise-class corporations are content using Fibre Channel for high-end storage applications, such as transactional databases, and iSCSI for lower priority backup traffic.

"IT departments will experiment with this new technology but do it reluctantly because of budget cuts," Taneja said. "By the end of this, you'll see some experimental stuff. By early 2010, my expectation is that there will be some early production systems, but those will be few and far between."

In conjunction with the OneConnect UCNA, Emulex announced OneCommand, an automated and centralized enterprise management application for the UCNAs and the company's LightPulse Fibre Channel host bus adapters (HBAs). "The Emulex OneCommand Management Framework provides a single interface for the deployment, dynamic provisioning, asset management, connectivity management, security and quality of service of I/O connectivity that is optimized for virtualised and converged networking environments," the company said.

Emulex also announced its SecureConneX HBA, which encrypts data in-flight and at rest, and provides access controls through key management. Emulex has partnered with RSA to deliver the encryption key management for its SecureConneX HBAs.

The Emulex SecureConneX HBA encrypts data in-flight and at-rest, and provides access controls

"Preventing data breaches and complying with information security mandates are growing concerns for organizations of any size, location or industry throughout the world," said Steve Daheb, chief marketing officer for Emulex. "Emulex Secure HBA technology provides maximum enterprise wide data centre protection by delivering encryption at the host, shielding companies from expensive, embarrassing data loss or theft."