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Emulex extends partner program around Ethernet storage

With its business shifting from Fibre Channel host bus adapters to converged network adapters, Emulex looks to educate partners more on 10 Gigabit Ethernet issues.

Emulex Corp. today said it is revamping its Emulex Connect Partner Program to reflect the growing presence of Ethernet storage in the data center.

Emulex and its main  Fibre Channel host bus adapter (HBA) rival, QLogic Corp., have moved into converged networking in recent years with converged network adapters (CNAs) that handle traffic for 10 Gibabit Ethernet (10 GbE), iSCSI, Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and other protocols. Emulex’s new partner program will include blogs, podcasts and webinars around implementing 10 GbE and other Ethernet storage issues for converged networks. Emulex is also offering higher rebates and profit margins for its partners, said Shaun Walsh, vice president of marketing.

The channel represents only about 20% of Emulex’s revenue, with the rest coming through server and storage OEM partners such as EMC Corp., IBM and Hewlett-Packard Co. However, Walsh said the channel is increasing in significance as Emulex competes more with Ethernet storage vendors. He said network consolidation means Emulex is talking to more storage customers who need to learn about Ethernet networking and networking people who want Fibre Channel expertise.

“A lot of these guys are Ethernet guys who don’t have storage backgrounds or storage guys who don’t have Ethernet backgrounds,” he said. “And the sell-through is different. Storage was sold directly through OEMs, while Ethernet is sold through channel partners. In Fibre Channel, it’s us and QLogic. In the Ethernet space, it’s still a bit of the Wild West out there. We compete with Intel, Broadcom, QLogic and Mellanox. Our VAR partners and engineers have a much broader choice in Ethernet.”

Emulex is offering bigger sales promotion incentive funds (SPIF) and a new SPIF processing system to accelerate claims. It is also adding a Partner Portal with training materials and Emulex Convergence Conversations, a resource for information on I/O performance, server virtualization, convergence, security, data center efficiency and other data center technologies.

Walsh said Emulex has about 2,000 channel partners worldwide, up from about 500 a year ago. He expects the number to grow to about 5,000 within two years.

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