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Dark Fiber - Ethernet to Drive Data Center Switch Market Growth, Reaching $16 Billion by 2017

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January 22, 2013

Ethernet to Drive Data Center Switch Market Growth, Reaching $16 Billion by 2017

By Laura Stotler
TMCnet Contributing Editor

The data center switch market will reach $16 billion by 2017, according to a new report from Crehan Research Inc. The "Data Center Switch Long-Range Forecast Report" breaks down various sections of the switch market for data centers, with strong growth anticipated in a number of areas.

According to Crehan, Ethernet, which includes fiber channel-over-Ethernet, will comprise a growing portion of the overall data center switch market. Within the burgeoning Ethernet segment, 10GBASE-T switches and 40 Gigabit Ethernet-capable switches (40GbE) also have strong growth potential.

The report goes on to predict major increases for 100 Gigabit Ethernet Switches (100GbE), although the research company points out that prices and port densities need to evolve before 100GbE realizes meaningful market impact. Even so, these switches are slated to play an important role in long-term data center switch technology.

While Ethernet will comprise the majority of the data center switch market, Infiniband switches are also slated to grow at a much faster rate than the overall market, according to Crehan. Infiniband offers one of the fastest speed transitions in data center networking, with FDR (56Gbps) making up a majority of ports about one year after initial shipments.

Benefits of the Infiniband switches include low latency, scalability and high throughput. Intel's (News - Alert) acquisition of Qlogic's Infiniband business in January of 2012 is a good indicator of anticipated growth in this segment, with network switches and host bus adapters being the primary products.

And although Infiniband is slated to make a lasting impact, the fiber channel switch market is rapidly hitting a plateau. The report indicates declines in shipments will be gradual, however, since fiber channel is a key data center storage technology right now.

"Given the mid-2012 step-function increase in 10GBASE-T server adapter and LAN-on-motherboard shipments and subsequent introduction of numerous attractively-priced 10GBASE-T data center switches, we expect exponential growth in 10GBASE-T switch port shipments," said Seamus Crehan, president of Crehan Research.

"We believe the strong ramp in 40GbE will be driven by the following factors," he added. "First, the upgrade to 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) switches in the server access layer should drive 40GbE deployments in the uplink, aggregation and core sectors of data center networks. Second, 40GbE, with its QSFP interface, also can be used as four individual 10GbE links which not only provides very high 10GbE switch port density but also gives uplink/downlink and oversubscription/wire-speed flexibility."

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Edited by Brooke Neuman
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