Fibre Channel free-for-all

March 19, 2010 -- The Fibre Channel SAN market is experiencing record growth and, as it does, the main players in Fibre Channel networking are fighting harder than ever for market share as converged networking gains traction.

Recently released data from the Dell'Oro Group shows that the Fibre Channel SAN market experienced a broad-based, record sequential revenue growth in the fourth quarter of 2009, with both Fibre Channel switch and host bus adapter segments posting large increases.

According to the firm's "SAN Quarterly Report," Brocade, Cisco, Emulex and QLogic, had "strong sequential performances that helped propel the market to expand more than 15% quarter-over-quarter."

Seamus Crehan, vice president of Dell'Oro Group, said "the server upgrade cycle that started in the second quarter of 2009 was…a key driver of the Fibre Channel Host Bus Adapter growth, especially 8Gbps."

Even more interesting is expected impact of unified fabric/converged networking technologies, specifically Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) running on converged network adapters (CNA).

The Dell'Oro Group's "SAN 5-Year Forecast Report," predicts that FCoE will be "a major growth contributor to both the Fibre Channel HBA market and the Ethernet network adapter market."

In a recent discussion about the HP-Cisco divorce, Taneja Group founder and consulting analyst Arun Taneja said converged networking is creating its own set of wars in the IT industry.

"The industry has become smart enough to say that Fibre Channel is not going anywhere. It's a sacred technology, but if you give me the same Fibre Channel that I am used to today and you want to put it on a different fabric, that's okay with me – hence Fibre Channel over Ethernet," he said. "Two worlds have collided in the form of one card called a converged network adapter that can act as a NIC for Ethernet traffic and support iSCSI or FCoE for Fibre Channel traffic. Broadcomm, Intel, Emulex, and QLogic are all vying for that market."

Taneja said customers are starting to take sides and that the market me be ripe for vendor consolidation.

"The winds are blowing fast and furious for Emulex and QLogic at the expense of Broadcomm and Intel," he said. "Ultimately, the one thing I can see that would bring everything back to a calm state is if Intel was to buy QLogic and Broadcomm buys Emulex."

Check out InfoStor's recent coverage of the Fibre Channel SAN market and FCoE:

HP to resell QLogic's enterprise FC switches

EMC taps QLogic for 8Gbps FC switches

Emulex: Running the Table at HP?

FCoE CNAs: HP/IBM tap Emulex, Cisco taps QLogic

Broadcom makes hostile bid for Emulex

Broadcom Enters Converged Network Adapter War

QLogic sues Emulex, but not over technology

Cisco-HP partnership implodes

Analysts weigh in on HP-Cisco breakup


posted by: Kevin Komiega

Kevin Komiega, Senior Editor
by Kevin Komiega
Senior Editor

Kevin Komiega has been the Senior Editor of InfoStor since 2005. He was previously a senior news writer with SearchStorage.com and held a position as a public relations account executive with Porter Novelli, Boston. Kevin also spent four years running tape backup operations at the University of Rhode Island's Academic Computer Center. He can be contacted at kkomiega@quinstreet.com.