SAN switch purchase plans: Brocade gaining mind share among European buyers

Get details on survey results of SAN switch plans among European storage buyers, including inroads made by Brocade and how the average number of switches users plan to buy is changing.

The size of SAN fabric being operated by readers is growing, as is the number of SAN switches being managed. In addition, more people are using 8 Gbps Fibre Channel (FC) and Brocade has seen its mind share increase considerably.

Those are some of the key findings in the third section of this year's Purchasing Intentions survey, carried out in the second quarter of 2010 among 215 storage professionals representing businesses with an average annual revenue of £1.3 billion.

In this third section of the 2010 survey results we look at SAN switch purchasing and compare respondents' answers with previous surveys in 2008 and 2009.

Of those questioned in the 2010 survey, the largest number of users (43%) have between one and 10 SAN switches, which is fewer than in 2008 when the corresponding figure was 53%. The percentage of respondents with installs of between 11 and 50 switches has remained stable, but those running more than 50 switches has increased from 9% to 15%.

Eighty-two percent of users planning to purchase SAN switches said they would buy switches with fewer than 64 ports; only 10% plan to buy devices with more than 128 ports.

When asked about their 2010 fabric topology, most respondents said they have mostly islands of small switches (24%), which is a tiny decrease from 2008 (27%). Nineteen percent have mostly director-class switches and another 19% have larger core switches with smaller edge switches (versus 23% and 18%, respectively, reported in 2008).

For their storage networks, 41% are currently running 4 Gbps Fibre Channel and 23% are on 8 Gbps FC. That marks a small but noticeable shift from the 2009 survey, when 46% ran 4 Gbps and 17% had moved to 8 Gbps.

Cisco has maintained its position as the most prevalent SAN switch provider among UK users (50%), a figure that is unchanged from two years ago. However, Brocade has jumped from being the choice of 19% of those questioned in 2008 to 30% of today's respondents. QLogic is the third-place switch vendor with 12%, which marks no change from the 2008 survey.

When it came to their choice of SAN switch vendor, the key criteria fell in a fairly even split this year -- and the choices seem to reflect the great proportion of mind share currently held by Brocade. In 2008, the largest number of respondents said being the market leader was the key buying criterion. That has dropped to being the fifth most important factor this year.

In 2010, a little less than 21% base their purchasing decisions on technical support and service, while 20% make their decision on product features and functions or whether the vendor already supplies technology to their business. A recommendation by their storage subsystem vendor is the key factor for 10% of respondents.

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