Blog Viewer

Gartner’s verdict on the future of storage protocols

By phansen posted 11-28-2016 09:00 AM


You have super-fast storage but you probably aren’t getting the high speed performance and application service levels that it’s capable of delivering. Gartner says that “by upgrading the storage network, IT leaders can reduce costs. Upgrading consolidates the number of network switches, cables, and host-based adaptors or network interface cards.”


To do so, involves choosing between the many storage protocols available. To help the savvy IT leader decide, Gartner1 has released a new report “The Future of Storage Protocols”.  Taking an IT leaders’ perspective, they review the most common data center storage networking protocols. Performance, cost, reliability, ease of operation, and other features of each protocol, are evaluated by Gartner to establish which stand out and meet the key requirements for storage traffic.

gartner data center storage networking protocols evaluation chart

Gartner’s main observations, directly quoted from the report, include:


  • “As a storage protocol, Fibre Channel (FC) is simple to configure and administer, and has had wide adoption over the past 17 years.”
  • “Storage performance bottlenecks are moving out of arrays and into the storage network, so Fibre Channel will remain as the data center storage protocol of choice over the next decade.”
  • “iSCSI is a relatively low-cost solution to purchase. However, IT leaders should plan to move to Ethernet networks with even faster and higher throughput (such as 40GbE) within the next 12 months if they want to continue using iSCSI with the fastest low-latency storage arrays.”
  • “InfiniBand is a mature protocol with over a decade’s worth of adoption… Compared to FC and Ethernet-based storage protocols, InfiniBand is more expensive from purchase and operational cost perspectives. Availability of performance monitoring, problem determination, and device admin tools is limited.”
  • “While FCoE promises improved economics, it does not improve availability or performance relative to FC… Due to the lack of adoption, the future of FCoE as an external protocol is not promising.”


The verdict?


As noted above, Gartner predicts that “Fibre Channel will remain as the data center protocol of choice for the next decade”.


Why? “Fibre Channel is a mature low-latency, high bandwidth, high-throughput due to its deterministic nonblocking design. This high-link efficiency makes FC well-suited for storage traffic.” Gartner also states that “high-quality monitoring and problem-determination tools also exist.”


Brocade estimates that FC is being used by 90% of Fortune 1000 data centers, so it’s no surprise that most industry experts view FC as the de facto standard for mission-critical storage networking.


As a storage networking pioneer, we believe Brocade Gen 6 Fibre Channel solutions deliver breakthrough 32Gbps performance. The Brocade X6 Director accelerates application response time up to 71%2, eliminates IO bottlenecks, and enhances the reliability, scalability, and security of flash-based storage. That means faster data transfers using fewer links, and fewer devices to manage, all at a lower cost, with lower power consumption.


It’s both backwards-compatible with Gen 5 and future-ready—with built-in support for Gen 7 and next-generation NVMe over Fabrics—the ultra-fast protocol for flash storage (learn more about NVMe here). IT leaders can deploy these solutions now, knowing they will provide the performance needed today and be the foundation for ultra-high performance solutions in the future. What’s not to like?


Gartner’s final recommendation is clear: “IT leaders must revisit and review their budget plans for storage networking infrastructure to ensure their ability to meet increasingly performance-sensitive service levels.”


gartner paper

Read “The Future of Storage Protocols paper for Gartner’s view on the most common storage networking protocols and their role in digital transformation.



Find out more at:



1  Gartner “The Future of Storage Protocols”, Valdis Filks, Stanley Zaffos, 29 June 2016.


2  Emulex/Broadcom TPC-H benchmark Testing: See


GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally, and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.