SAN switch prices set to fall

SAN switch prices set to fall

Brocade is planning to introduce a low cost mid-range switch, code-named Dazzler. It could cost 30-40 per cent less than its Silkworm 3800 and 3900 switches.

Kaushik Roy and Phillip Rowe, two Susquehanna Financial Group Analysts, reported to the Enterprise Storage Forum that they: "believe Dazzler could be out in the April-May timeframe and could replace the Silkworm 3800 and 3900 switches gradually thereafter."

Brocade is concentrating on the mid-range switch market, switches with 16-32 ports. Both McData and QLogic offer products in this area.QLogic's new SANBox 5200 has the first 10Gbit/s switch interfaces available and undercuts Brocade prices by about 40 per cent. McData Sphereon 4500 switches are also cheaper than the Brocade equivalents.

Since Cisco entered the SAN switch market other vendors have felt pricing pressure. Cisco has claimed over 500 customers but some analysts think these are seed or pilot projects instead of solid rollouts.

Cisco and McData are competing in the higher port-count director class where Brocade's Silkworm 12000, offering 64-128 ports, is offered.

McData recently dismissed nearly 100 people, about 9 per cent of its employees. Brocade has got rid of 25 hardware engineers since the beginning of the year, following the dismissal of 115 employees last April.

Brocade's new switch may be manufactured in China, lowering costs, and use the same firmware in its ASICs as the 3800 and 3900 switches. CEO Greg Reyes confirmed that Brocade is pursuing cost-reduction plans when talking to financial analysts recently. Given cost-reduction pressures it is unikely that Dazzler will have 10Gbit/s interfaces.

It is expected, and hoped, that SAN switch prices will fall as SAN takeup has been limited by high prices and complexity. Brocade's move should accelerate this, as McData and Cisco will probably lower their prices to follow suit.

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