FC switches expected to grow at 25% CAGR

—Although end-user adoption of iSCSI-based IP SANs is picking up steam, iSCSI doesn't seem to be negatively impacting growth in the Fibre Channel market. For example, in a recent report, the Dell'Oro Group research firm predicts that Fibre Channel switch port shipments will increase from 4.1 million in 2006 to 12.7 million in 2011, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25%. Revenues, meanwhile, are expected to grow from $1.6 billion last year to $2.6 billion in 2011, a CAGR of 10%.

And the predictions for Fibre Channel host bus adapters (HBAs) are almost as rosy. For example, Dell'Oro analysts predict a CAGR in revenues of 4% through 2011, from about $1 billion to $1.3 billion, while port shipments are expected to surge from 2.8 million in 2006 to 6.4 million in 2011, a CAGR of 18%.

Combined, the Fibre Channel switch and HBA market is expected to grow from $2.7 billion last year to almost $4 billion in 2011, a CAGR of 8%. And combined port shipments are expected to shoot from almost 7 million in 2006 to more than 19 million in 2011.

"We do not expect iSCSI to compete with Fibre Channel for SAN network upgrades or for mission-critical storage applications," Dell'Oro analysts write in the report. "Rather, we believe iSCSI will be deployed in applications for which Fibre Channel would not be considered. Examples of such applications are connecting stranded servers to a network or data backup in small businesses that cannot afford to train staff to learn how to operate a Fibre Channel network."

(That view is somewhat in contrast to what InfoStor saw in some recent end-user case studies where, in most instances, users did evaluate Fibre Channel before opting for lower-cost iSCSI-based SANs. See "Why SMBs are embracing iSCSI.")

The shift from 2Gbps to 4Gbps Fibre Channel is proceeding steadily. For example, the Dell'Oro Group estimates that one out of every four switch ports shipped last year were 4Gbps ports, and that the transition to 4Gbps will be completed in the second half of this year.

In the HBA market, about 30% of the HBA ports shipped last year were 4Gbps, although 4Gbps HBAs will account for more than 90% of the ports shipped by year-end. The research firm expects the transition to 4Gbps HBAs to be completed in the latter half of 2008. —Dave Simpson

For more information on the Dell'Oro report, visit www.delloro.com

This article was originally published on February 09, 2007