Storage Switches Bounce Back in 2010, Helped by Cisco

The sale of switches and adapters for use in storage area networks (SAN) "rebounded nicely" in 2010, after a drop in 2009, according to data from Infonetics Research.

The combined SAN market grew by 15 percent in 2010, to US$2.76 billion worldwide, Infonetics said on Monday. Revenue growth was driven mainly by Cisco Systems, which posted a 60 percent increase in SAN switch revenue in 2010, according to Infonetics' calculations.

Brocade is still the biggest vendor, but its market share dropped by 6 percentage points in 2010, while arch rival Cisco saw its chunk of the market grow by 7 percentage points.

Going forward, Cisco is in a good position because of its lead in the Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) switch segment, widely seen as the future networking technology of the data center, according to Infonetics. Worldwide revenue from the technology jumped by more than 200 percent in 2010, but that was from a small base, it said.

FCoE is used to encapsulate Fibre Channel frames in Ethernet packets. Today's data centers typically run multiple separate networks: an Ethernet-based network for client and server communications and a Fibre Channel-based SAN for just storage traffic. By consolidating the two, companies can lower costs, improve flexibility and simplify management, according to proponents of FCoE.

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