8 Gbps Fibre Channel levels off, green storage peaks, DR storage spending shifts

Our SearchStorage.co.UK Purchasing Intentions survey shows 8 Gbps Fibre Channel levelling off, green storage has peaked, DR spending is shifting and more.

Brocade has increased its proportion of switch deployments at European IT shops for the third year running and this year at the expense of Cisco, which saw its share decline. Meanwhile, 8 Gbps Fibre Channel implementations have levelled off.

Green storage seems to have peaked, with fewer storage professionals now citing energy efficiency as a major factor in hardware purchases, though the green message does seem to have left a lasting impression.

Those are some of the findings of the 2011 SearchStorage.co.UK European storage Purchasing Intentions survey, which asked 302 storage professionals representing businesses with an average annual revenue of £896 million about their storage budgets and spending intentions.

The survey results are split into three parts–budgets and disk systems, backup, and the rest. This is the third part of the survey report, which deals with storage switches, green storage, cloud storage, disaster recovery, compliance and storage management. Read on for details on our findings. (For information on how the survey was conducted, see “About the SearchStorage.co.UK 2011 storage Purchasing Intentions survey.”

Storage switches and networking speed

Brocade continues to increase its share of deployments at the expense of Cisco among our readers. Meanwhile, use of 8 Gbps Fibre Channel appears to have levelled off, and nothing has really changed in the size and shape of our readers’ storage networks.

The storage switch market is still dominated by the big two. While Cisco claims 45% of respondents’ deployments and purchase plans in 2011 and Brocade 38%, these figures mark another increase in Brocade’s popularity with our readers, from 30% last year and 19% in 2008. Cisco drops to this year’s percentage from 50% in each of the past surveys.

Brocade’s lead broadly mirrors its overall lead in Fibre Channel switch market share over Cisco. Beyond that, it was quicker to market than Cisco with 8 Gbps equipment, and there’s a perception that it has a greater commitment to Fibre Channel compared with Cisco, which had pushed Fibre Channel over Ethernet in recent years.

QLogic is a distant third with 12.5%, which marks no change from last year.

In storage networking bandwidth terms, 8 Gbps Fibre Channel is now in use with 24% of respondents, just one percentage point higher than last year. Meanwhile, 4 Gbps Fibre Channel still has the most adherents, with 35.5% reporting its continued use. That’s a drop from 2010’s figure of 41%, but for 8 Gbps and 4 Gbps Fibre Channel the big changes came after the 2008 survey, in which they scored 17% and 46% respectively.

Meanwhile, 1 Gbps and 2 Gbps Fibre Channel are still in use with 30% of those questioned. Presumably supporting iSCSI and NAS deployments, 18% of respondents use 10 Gbps Ethernet (up from 13% in 2010), while 25% use 1 Gbps Ethernet for storage networking.

Most respondents (39.5%) have between two and five SAN fabrics, while 18.5% only have one and 12% have more than five. When it comes to fabric topologies there is a fairly even split, with 21% using director switches. Meanwhile, 21% have single large switches and smaller edge devices. Finally, 21% report using islands of small switches.


The green storage wave seems to have peaked but has possibly made a lasting impression. Last year a whopping 60% of respondents reported energy efficiency would be a major factor in purchasing decisions, up from 49% in 2008, but this year that’s down to 36%.

That said, only 8% said it was of no importance whatsoever in 2011, and that’s a significant improvement on the 29% who said the same thing last year, so it looks like the energy efficiency message has gained a solid foothold.

For a small minority (4%) energy efficiency is the critical factor in storage array purchases in 2011, similar to 2010.

Cloud storage

Meanwhile, use of cloud storage appears to be at the beginning of its journey, with only about one-fifth of respondents using it so far.

Most people (80%) don’t use the cloud for primary or nearline data, and that shows little change on last year’s figure of 78%. Some do, however, with 8% using it for data centre primary data, 8% for disaster recovery, 6% for remote office online data and 5% for data centre nearline data.

We asked about plans for the coming year, and, again, most respondents (61%) said they had no intention to use the cloud, while 28% said they didn’t yet know whether they’d use it. Of those with plans, however, disaster recovery was the most cited use case (44%), while 37% said they would use it for primary storage data. Just over a quarter said they would use the cloud for remote office data and slightly less for nearline data.

Cloud storage’s status among our readers as a yet-to-take-off technology reflects its broader market situation, in which it has hitherto been used as an online repository for developers’ data stores. Market analysts expect cloud storage to cross over to the wider IT department and find use in nearline and primary data applications.

Disaster recovery

Spending levels on disaster recovery (DR) are about the same as last year, but the things respondents will spend DR budget on are different; remote replication has increased in popularity while tape has declined.

For nearly one-third, disaster recovery spending will increase in 2011, although for almost half it will stay the same. The key storage-related expenditure in DR for the largest number of respondents in 2011 will be on remote replication, cited by almost two-thirds of survey respondents. This is a significant increase on the 2010 figure of 43%, which was also an increase on 2008’s figure of 29.5%.

Off-site tape storage will be the biggest DR storage item for 23% of respondents, and that’s down from 31% in 2010 and 2008. Meanwhile, for 10% the biggest DR cost will be online vaulting, also down from 18% in 2010.

The growth of replication and decline of tape vaulting are the two sides of the same coin in contemporary DR. Server virtualisation makes it easy to use remote-copy methods of data protection for replication of virtual machines and their data to secondary data stores. On the other hand, the ability to replicate entire VMs and data in near real time has superseded the traditional method of retaining identical hardware and apps to which data is loaded from tape.


When asked about purchases of backup or archive systems to comply with data retention laws, a quarter of respondents expect to spend more in 2011. That’s exactly the same as last year, but that figure was up from 15% in 2008.

Of those using archiving systems, the most common, in use by almost half of respondents, is file system archiving, while email archiving (40%) is the next most prevalent. Database archiving was the next most used by respondents, at 30%.

Storage management products

There’s no real change in respondents’ spending intentions in storage management products except that Symantec has lost its top vendor position among survey respondents to EMC, with HP jumping up to second spot.

A quarter of respondents expect they will spend more on storage management products this year than last, while the largest number (29%) expect spending to remain the same. Of those planning to spend in this area, the largest number (32%) cited the need to do more with their storage with the same amount of staff at the primary motivation. Just under a quarter want to use existing storage more efficiently while 19.5% want to simplify management of storage environments.

The most popular vendor for storage management products among 2011 survey respondents is EMC, which is the choice of 22%, up from second place and 18% in 2010 and 14% in 2008. HP is next most popular (21%), up from fourth and 11% in 2010, although it had ranked second with 23.5% in 2008. Symantec was top dog last year with 22% and recorded 25% in 2008 but is now fourth most popular choice with 16%.

Storage virtualisation

About 28.5% have implemented some form of storage virtualisation, similar to last year’s figure of 30%. And among those respondents, they’ve virtualised block and file storage in roughly equal numbers: Just under two thirds have virtualised some block (63%) and some file storage (62%), while 17% have virtualised all block storage and 20% have virtualised all file storage.

So, how have respondents implemented storage virtualisation? The largest number (46.5%) have implemented it using the onboard capabilities of their storage array. A slightly smaller number (39.5%) use a dedicated storage virtualisation appliance, while 18.5% use a software product on a standalone server and 11.5% virtualise via a storage switch.

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