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8 Gbps Fibre Channel: Price driving adoption of the SAN storage technology

Some two years since the first products started hitting the market, 8 Gbps Fibre Channel is becoming the natural next step for IT shops that are committed to Fibre Channel (FC) storage area network

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(SAN) technology now that the prices are dropping. Its backward compatibility to earlier FC SAN storage technology generations makes the upgrade process smooth, and its potential to improve response times and increase throughput holds special appeal for users with bandwidth- or I/O-intensive applications.

Indeed, shipments of 8 Gbps hardware are picking up steam and, in the case of switch ports, have already overtaken 4 Gbps. But some of the early adopters of 8 Gbps didn't intentionally set out to upgrade, and some of the FC users who have yet to adopt it say they are in no rush.

Industry analysts said that the uptake of 8 Gbps Fibre Channel has been slower than it was for 4 Gbps. They cite the economic downturn's effect on IT spending, the initial price premium for the technology and a potential lack of new applications demanding higher throughput.

Whether an IT organization upgrades to 8 Gbps will depend to a large degree on how committed they are to Fibre Channel. In fact, some users may end up jumping off the FC SAN storage technology path, opting instead for 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) or Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE).

Fibre Channel SAN: Upgrading to 8 Gbps for storage networks a logical step as prices drop

For IT shops that are committed to FC storage networks, upgrading their SAN gear from 4 Gbps to 8 Gbps makes sense now that the price gap between the two is starting to close. Users can refresh the different components of their enterprise data storage infrastructures at their own pace, because the newer 8 Gbps Fibre Channel is backwards-compatible. Plus, they'll gain the benefit of improving their application response times and increasing throughput over 4 Gbps to give a boost to bandwidth- or I/O-intensive applications and potentially reduce bottlenecks on their Fibre Channel SAN.

Editor's tip: Discover why upgrading a Fibre Channel SAN to 8 Gbps is the natural next step for IT shops refreshing their storage networks.

Adoption of 8 Gbps Fibre Channel expected to soar this year after sluggish start

After a sluggish start, the pace of adoption for the 8 Gbps Fibre Channel protocol is poised to ratchet up now that the supporting host bus adapters (HBAs), switches and storage arrays are gaining critical mass, prices are dropping and the improving economy is spurring IT shops to reopen their wallets. Of the roughly 1.5 million FC switch ports that shipped in the third quarter of last year, approximately two-thirds were 8 Gbps and the other third was 4 Gbps, according to Seamus Crehan, a vice president at Dell'Oro Group Inc., a Redwood City, Calif.-based market research firm that tracks the networking and telecommunications industries. The prior quarter, 8 Gbps vaulted to the majority of the FC switch-side port shipments for the first time since the technology started shipping, he noted.

Editor's tip: Learn why adoption of 8 Gbps Fibre Channel SAN storage is poised to take off as the economy improves, but why a full end-to-end upgrade isn't very likely for many users.

This was first published in January 2010