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Stretching the fabric
Our respondents have an average of 10.4 storage switches and 2.4 fabrics (see Users adding to existing fabrics). Although
they plan to buy an average of six additional switches this year, they expect to increase the number of fabrics only marginally to 2.6. This reflects the predominance of small switch purchases, with 72% of respondents' purchases planned for switches with 32 or fewer ports.
That picture is further buttressed by respondents' reasons for buying switches. Only 16% were buying to create their first SAN, compared to 22% a year ago. This contrasts with the 42% of storage managers in our survey who are buying switches to add devices to existing SANs.
This tendency to build out existing fabrics is accompanied by a desire to structure fabrics better. Buying small switches doesn't mean building lots of islands--quite the opposite. While 34% say their fabrics are currently built around islands of small switches, only 26% say that's where they'll be at the end of 2005. In contrast, nearly a third (32%) of respondents describe their current architecture as director-based, but this should rise to 35% by year's end. The next most popular architecture is core/edge (14%), which should increase to 18% by year's end.
The trend chronicled in the last few surveys to explore iSCSI has picked up more steam (See iSCSI deployments increasing). In our August 2004 Purchasing Intentions Survey, nearly 18% of those surveyed said they would deploy iSCSI, a figure that rose to 27% in this survey. That iSCSI complements, not replaces, current Fibre Channel (FC) networks is evident from what respondents say they'll use it for. Roughly half will put end-user storage, backup or non-mission-critical applications on iSCSI SANs. Approximately a third will use iSCSI to connect through a local gateway to an FC SAN. Other new technology investments will also contribute to making storage networks more versatile, such as utility computing, wide-area replication and shared file system services (see New technologies extend networks, this page).
This was first published in June 2005