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Hard zoning vs. soft zoning

What are hard zoning and soft zoning? Which should I use for designing a storage environment? Are there any conceptual guides for studying these topics?

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Hard and soft zoning are used for controlling access and implementing a form of security so that all devices in a Fibre Channel switched (FC-SW) SAN fabric do not have to see each other. Hard and soft zoning are further differentiated by name and port zoning. Soft zoning controls what devices are accessible to each other by using the Fibre Channel name service where hard zoning restricts communication across a fabric.

Zoning can be implemented either by switch port to block access to un-authorized ports where a name-based zone restricts by world wide name (WWN). Use WWN zones if you need to move devices, for example tape drives, to other locations in a fabric. For stronger security, port zones can be used if you can trust what is attached to the port, however avoid WWN spoofing. Refer to vendor (Brocade, Qlogic, Cisco, McData) documentation and their recommendations on zoning, their specific implementation and interoperability.


This was first published in January 2007

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