SAN adoption in Europe vs. United States

Bits & Bytes: Insights into European vs. American storage purchasing habits and trends.

Europe tends to be a very mature IT market. If Europeans believe a technology will bring them significant benefits after assessing it, they won't hesitate to implement it. While the total shipments of storage area networks (SANs) to Europe are not much fewer than those shipped to the United States, Europeans also have more large and complex SANs than the U.S. by far.

Making a risky generalization, I may be inclined to say that the U.S. adopts new technologies quickly because they are new. Europe adopts new technologies quickly if they realize significant benefits to the business -- and of course storage consolidation in general and SAN in particular provide such benefits.

In Europe, I have worked with many customers that have dozens, indeed hundreds of Fibre Channel switches. In fact, I have worked with many customers who have SANs -- not just one, but several, consisting of up to 100 switches. The quick minded of you will be aware of the ambiguity in these statements as it is common to talk about a collection of related fabrics as being a single SAN -- after all, the fabrics may be connected indirectly to each other by servers or storage that connect to multiple discrete fabrics.

I have personally worked with customers with several fabrics, where each individual fabric consists of some 20 to 30 switches and some 300, 400 or 500 devices. As I said earlier, there are many Europeans working at the cutting edge, with some of the largest fabrics -- and its because these SANs bring real benefits to the companies concerned.

So, customers in Europe make full use of technologies available and often do so with comparatively little assistance from the companies developing the products. There are many IT companies that either have none of their own staff based in Europe, or only a small number of them, possibly consisting of only sales employees with no technical support. This means that the companies themselves rely on OEMs and channel partners to sell and integrate the products, and of course on the end users to decide how to buy, implement and support these products and technologies.

Why do European customers often lead the way in using technologies like SAN? Quite simply, these companies are working in a market that is by population larger than North America. Where competition is high in Europe, these companies need IT to run effectively, so technologies that allow them to be more effective and more competitive in a large, complex market are used aggressively as tools that allow these companies to survive and to grow.


About the author:

About the author: Simon Gordon is a senior solution architect for McDATA based in the UK. Simon has been working as a European expert in storage networking technology for more than 5 years. He specializes in distance solutions and business continuity. Simon has been working in the IT industry for more than 20 years in a variety or technologies and business sectors including software development, systems integration, Unix and open systems, Microsoft infrastructure design as well as storage networking. He is also a contributor to and presenter for the SNIA IP-Storage Forum in Europe.

This was first published in March 2003

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