Cisco, competitors see healthy data center switching market

Almost 10% CAGR to 2017, when it will reach $16B, according to Crehan Research

Cisco and its data center switching rivals should see some healthy growth over the next four or fives years. The data center switch market will approach $16 billion by 2017, a compounded annual growth rate of almost 10% over the $10 billion it achieved in 2012, according to Crehan Research.

Much of the growth will be driven by 10GBASE-T switches and 40G Ethernet switches, the firm notes. And that switch growth will in turn be driven by the increase in 10GBASE-T server adapter and LAN-on-Motherboard shipments that ramped in 2012.

[INCENTIVE: Intel's 10G 'Romley' server to spur Ethernet switch growth]

According to Crehan, 10GBASE-T port shipments in Q2 of 2012 exceeded all cumulative 10GBASE-T shipments up to that point. 10G Ethernet server adapter and LAN-on-Motherboard ports grew almost 20% from Q1 and over 50% from the second quarter of 2011.

This will drive an upgrade to 10G Ethernet switches in the server access layer, which should then drive 40G deployments in the uplink, aggregation and core sectors of data center networks, the firm posits. Another factor driving 40G deployment is 40G's QSFP interface. QSFP can also be used as four individual 10G links for high 10G switch port density and flexibility in uplink/downlink and oversubscription applications, Crehan notes.

And 100G Ethernet? Crehan predicts "robust" increases for 100G Ethernet switches but prices and port densities need improvement before it achieves meaningful market impact.

Other data center switching technologies will see mixed growth. Infiniband switches will continue growing at a faster pace than the overall data center switch market thanks to the uptake of 56Gbps FDR ports. FDR comprised a majority of Infiniband ports about one year after initial shipments in 2011, overtaking 40G QDR.

FibreChannel switching, however, is leveling off, according to Crehan. The technology has reached a plateau but shipment declines are expected to be gradual as FibreChannel remains a key datacenter storage networking technology, the firm notes.

Again, feeding all of this is server-class networking bandwidth, which will see a five-fold increase by 2017, Crehan notes. It will exceed 900 terabits in that year as data centers continue to increase network capacity to keep up with traffic demands and transition to higher speed adapters and switch ports.

These transitions include upgrades from Gigabit Ethernet to 10G Ethernet; from 8Gbps FibreChannel to 16Gbps FibreChannel; and from QDR Infiniband to FDR Infiniband. These increases are necessary to to handle the growth in network devices, ubiquitous connectivity, and richer applications that are driving more traffic over server networking connections, Crehan notes.

The transition to 10G Ethernet is expected to account for more than 60% of the total bandwidth by 2014, the year Crehan expects 10G Ethernet server-class adapter and LOM shipments to overtake Gigabit Ethernet.

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