It appears that the first 8Gbps Fibre Channel storage networking products are out, as reported by The Register. Still, the sentiment is that it will be unlikely that this new technology will do much to stem the drift to iSCSI over 10Gbps Ethernet, although it might perhaps slow it somewhat.
The main advantage of 8Gbps is that it not only uses the same infrastructure as earlier generations of Fibre Channel, but it is also backwards compatible to them. Slap the new 8Gbps devices onto an existing SAN, and they should interoperate without any issues, automatically running at the highest speed supported by both ends of the channel.
Interestingly, most SAN users have not (even) reached the limits of 2Gbps technology, never mind 4Gbps, according to Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Brian Garrett.
However, he hastened to add:
Administrators of infrastructure applications like disk-to-disk replication and vertical business applications like video post-production are already asking for higher performance storage networks.
The backwards compatibility of 8Gbps Fibre Channel will be warmly embraced in data centers, video production houses, and other application environments where performance counts.
The first 8Gbps products are promised by Emulex and QLogic, and according to the companies, they should be available for just a 10 to 20 percent price premium over existing 4Gbps products. While Brocade and Cisco have not yet made any announcements, I'm sure that they aren't too far behind.