I have to admit that its gratifying to see our competitors validate decisions we made a couple of years ago with regards to the need for a unified fabric in the data center. After dismissing FCoE or worse, completely missing the boat, they seem to be getting the religion. However, even though they are newly converted, it is useful to examine exactly how far behind the curve some of these companies are in delivering a unified fabric switch. After all, marketectures are easy–shipping product is a bit trickier.First off, we have a networking company that announced a switch about the same time we announced the Nexus 7000 last year. While that switch has yet to ship, the company has apparently had to call a mulligan and pre-announce a newer version of that switch that has not shipped yet–kinda like calling the mulligan before you even swing. This time, this new, new switch will offer unified fabric. Now you have to ask yourself how are they going to do that–where are they going to get the storage networking expertise? Well, you can either buy a Fibre Channel stack or build one yourself. If you look around, the”buy” options are limited. The Fibre Channel director space is pretty evenly split between Cisco and Brocade and I don’t think either company is selling. So, perhaps it makes more sense to build your own FC stack. An admirable effort, but the follow-up challenge is finding a customer who wants to be the guinea pig for your company’s first foray into storage networking. Trust us, we have been there and, lucky for us, we built a solid product and had success in the enterprise switching market to leverage.Next, we have a company that declared little customer interest in FCoE, then, seven months later, spent $3B to buy a network switch vendor, which got them parity with Cisco….well, Cisco in 2002. That was the year we acquired Andiamo Systems and had Ethernet switch and Fibre Channel switch which shared a nameplate, but little else in terms of hardware architecture or software. While this is certainly a step in the right direction for this competitor, it is still a full generation behind the benchmark.Which brings us to the Nexus family. So, here is shipping hardware that is purpose-built to allow customers to evolve from GbE to 10GbE to FCoE with full investment protection. But, as impressive as the hardware is (and it is), the real secret sauce is NX-OS. This is the only shipping operating system that includes both storage networking and data network code. The fact that NX-OS initially shipped as version 4.x was not a marketing exercise but rather acknowledgement that NX-OS was the synthesis of existing, battle-tested operating systems. The hard reality is that while competitors may be able to shorten their hardware development cycle by taking advantage of merchant silicon and the like, there is no hurrying the software side. Good software takes time.Well, that’s it for now–next post, I’ll dig into some of the FCoE FUD that is out there.