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Time for a Switch

To outsiders, the world of Fibre Channel switching may look like a 1970s terrarium. (Surely you remember those little glasses of colored sand, with a tiny cactus or two, that doubled as ashtrays in your first apartment?)

Insiders take a different view. Under a mild-mannered exterior, they say, the FC market is a tropical jungle about to burst into bloom.

The signs have been building. Cisco, which entered the market like gangbusters a couple of years back, may be losing its love of the switch game. (See Fibre Channel Shake 'n Bake and Andiamo Vets Go 'Nuova'.) Meanwhile, Brocade's ascendancy is going unchecked by McData. (See Brocade Eyes SEC Settlement.)

Users seem ready for something new. In our recent poll: A New World for Switchmakers, over 60 percent of more than 270 respondents say they think Cisco will back out of the FC market, and over 85 percent think Brocade will step into its place.

A new order may not bring variety. In our poll, over 55 percent of respondents declared the market's already a narrow one with little room for new players.

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