IDC: Fibre Channel Market to Triple

Optical additions to storage networks will fuel fast growth, says IDC

January 24, 2001

2 Min Read
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Soaring demand for storage area networks (SANs) will result in a threefold increase in the market for Fibre Channel equipment in the next couple of years, according to research from IDC, which projects sales to total $4 billion in 2003.

SANs are already commonplace in corporate data centers where theyre used to link servers to disc and tape drives, typically using Fibre Channel equipment. Now they’re being extended to multiple sites over the optical backbones being installed by carriers. And that in turn is leading to the emergence of specialized storage services targeting a wider audience of potential users. A boom could be in the offing (see Storage Networks Supernova).

"SANs are spreading, getting bigger, getting networked, and optical's the way they're getting networked," says John McArthur, vice president for storage research at IDC.

These developments are reflected in IDC’s forecasts for different Fibre Channel devices -- bridge/routers, host bus adapters, switches, and hubs -- shown in the chart.

Figure 1:

The market for Fibre Channel switches will increase most dramatically -- growing 483 percent between 2000 and 2003. Within the same timeframe, sales of Fibre Channel host adapters, which link Web and database servers to SANs, will increase 250 percent; sales of Fibre Channel hubs, 95 percent; and sales of bridge/routers, 9 percent.

The low growth in bridge/routers reflects dwindling demand for equipment that converts Fibre Channel into wide-area protocols like ATM (asynchronous transfer mode). Growing numbers of SANs will run Fibre Channel directly over wavelengths furnished by DWDM (dense wavelength-division multiplexing) equipment.

"It's really an issue of network design. There's no change to the signal involved. All we have to do, basically, is assure that the power levels are the same between the Fibre Channel and DWDM boxes by adding or subtracting attenuators," says Todd Bundy, director of business development at Adva AG Optical Networking (Neuer Markt: ADV).

Adva is one of several DWDM vendors that have announced SAN compatibility for their products. Others include LuxN Inc., Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), ONI Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ONIS), and Sorrento Networks Corp. (Nasdaq: FIBR).

-- Mary Jander, senior editor, Light Reading

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