State of the Fibre Channel Industry

In 2013 Fibre Channel achieved several significant milestones. Approximately 11M (10.97M) Fibre Channel ports shipped when you combine adapter and switch ports1, not even counting target ports on storage arrays. $12.9B of Fibre Channel enterprise storage systems were sold worldwide, representing well over half of all Storage Area Network (SAN) storage in the market 2. The Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) also calculates that over $100B has been invested into the total I/O eco-system of Fibre Channel over the last two decades. Finally, for the first time ever, over 11EB (Exabytes) of Fibre Channel storage capacity in external enterprise storage systems shipped - representing nearly 70 percent of the SAN market 3.

Termed the year of “11-11-11” for Fibre Channel by the FCIA, these impressive statistics clearly demonstrate the reality that Fibre Channel continues to flourish throughout IT markets. Listen to representatives from large global enterprises such as AOL, and Rackspace talk about how FCIA solves their need for shared storage and sustained performance in short, informative videos on the Fibre Channel Industry Association’s (FCIA’s) Knowledge Vault.

Today’s data explosion presents unprecedented storage challenges resulting from a wide range of application requirements such as database, transaction processing, data warehousing, imaging, integrated audio/video, real-time computing, and collaborative projects. For nearly two decades, SANs have become mainstays for companies looking to increase storage utilization and manageability while reducing costs. SANs represent a topology for connecting storage assets directly to the network and establishing a peer-to-peer server/storage implementation and solve multiple issues for enterprises with data centers to remote offices.

As the volume and criticality of data grow, companies need efficient, scalable solutions for making data available to servers, applications, and users across the enterprise. By providing a network of storage resources to servers, Fibre Channel SANs uncouple storage from individual platforms, allowing data transfer among all nodes on the storage network.

Fibre Channel is an ideal solution for IT professionals who need reliable, cost-effective information storage and delivery at fast speeds. Fibre Channel is the mature, safe solution for storage networks of all sizes in all business enterprises. Fibre Channel’s long reliable history of 1GFC, 2GFC, 4GFC, 8GFC and 16GFC used in most storage network communications, has been complemented by Gen 6 Fibre Channel. Representing the industry's fastest industry standard networking protocol, Gen 6 enables SANs of up to 128GFC and includes a variety of features that further improve network reliability, energy efficiency, and operational simplicity.

With drivers such as virtualization, big data, cloud storage networks, social media and in general electronic accessibility to most all things, IO bandwidth requirements are greatly increasing and going nowhere but up. IO bandwidth will be expected to handle more and more traffic, be it the same dedicated traffic types on separate physical networks, or multiple converged data traffic types onto a single network. Fibre Channel supports these evolving storage requirements and continues providing the ideal solution for fast, reliable mission-critical information storage and retrieval for today’s critical applications.

 1  Worldwide Storage Area Network Market – Fibre Channel Forecast, 2013
2  Worldwide External Enterprise Storage Systems Revenue by Topology, Installation, and Protocol 2006-2015 ($B), IDC, 2013
3 Worldwide External Enterprise Storage Systems Capacity Shipped by Topology, Installation and Protocol 2006-2015 (Petabytes), IDC, 2013