Is 2009 the year of unified fabrics?

Tight budgets invite tough decisions. Some storage projects will undoubtedly be shelved this year as end users look to drive cost out of the data center. As a part of those consolidation efforts, network fabrics could get a makeover.

Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) analyst Bob Laliberte believes all organizations are in uncharted economic territory and 2009 will clearly be a challenging year for IT budgets.

However, according to his research, the majority of organizations surveyed by ESG expect that their storage spending will increase slightly in 2009.

ESG estimates that storage capital spending will grow at a modest rate of 2.9% from 2008 to 2009, outpacing most expectations of overall IT spending growth. Spending increases will be centered among the largest, most data-intensive organizations and will be tied to specific business initiatives such as Web 2.0 projects, improved business intelligence, and globalization.

If the main players in the push for unified networking technologies are to be believed, the economic climate creates a big opportunity for unified networking technologies. Both Brocade and Cisco say they are seeing success with their newest products as users are well on their way to adopting the core platforms necessary for supporting the unified fabrics of the future.

"Our DCX Backbone is the fastest ramping and most widely successful product line we've ever had," said Brocade's senior director of product marketing, Marty Lans.

Though Brocade doesn't break out specific numbers for public consumption, the company cites internal metrics and general market acceptance as the measure of success for the DCX. The company bases its claims on the number of units shipped and port density.

Cisco is also enjoying success as it positions the capabilities of its Nexus platform as necessary for virtual data centers.

"The implementation of a unified fabric infrastructure allows for combining storage and data traffic on a single, unified Ethernet network. As virtualization becomes a stronger design influence in the data center, these features become a requirement to support virtual environments," said Cisco's Dante Malagrino, director of product marketing for data center emerging technology.

Cisco touts more than 250 customers for its new flagship product, the Nexus 7000, which began shipping in January of 2008.

According to Laliberte, server virtualization is also driving the need for faster, more advanced storage networking technologies.

"Our research indicates that all networked storage is increasing, Fibre Channel SAN, iSCSI SAN and NAS. With multiple virtual machines there is a need for additional throughput," he said.

Laliberte thinks the concept of consolidated fabrics will continue to gain acceptance this year.

"As long as organizations continue to consolidate data centers and infrastructure – the ability to consolidate FC directors onto a backbone should resonate – saves on power, cooling and space and the new virtual fabric technology ensures secure segmentation of the SAN," he said.

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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.

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