Buying Guide

Enterprise switch upgrade specifications

Switches are a critical component of any storage area network (SAN). They interconnect storage devices into the overall SAN fabric. SAN upgrades often involve changes and extensions to the switch fabric. For example, additional switches can connect more storage devices or establish

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redundant connections between them, faster switches can accelerate SAN performance and large switches can be installed to consolidate an assortment of disparate switch devices. The product snapshots in this chapter highlight key specifications for a cross section of popular enterprise-class switch products. The following products were selected based on input from industry analysts and SearchStorage.com editors, and specifications are current as of February 2007.

The following specifications have been provided by vendors and are periodically updated. Vendors are welcome to submit their updates and new product specifications to Matt Perkins.

Go to the first product snapshot, or select the desired product below:

  • Brocade Communications Systems Inc.; SilkWorm 48000 director
  • Brocade Communications Systems Inc.; Mi10K (formerly McData)
  • Brocade Communications Systems Inc.; M6140 (formerly McData)
  • Cisco Systems Inc.; MDS 9124 Multilayer Fabric Switch
  • Cisco Systems Inc.; MDS 9506 Multilayer Director
  • Cisco Systems Inc.; MDS 9509 Multilayer Director
  • Cisco Systems Inc.; MDS 9513 Multilayer Director

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    Product Snapshot #1
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    Product: Brocade Communications Systems Inc.; SilkWorm 48000 director

    Ports per Domain: 384 ports per Director; >2500 ports within a single fabric
    Port Speed(s): All ports auto-negotiate from 4G, 2G and 1G Fibre Channel speeds
    Performance: 4Gb: 3.07 Tb/s; 2Gb: 1.5 Tb/s; 1Gb: 0.7 Tb/s
    Latency: <2.1 µsec any port to any port at 2Gbit/sec, cut-through routing; <3.6 µsec any port to any port at 4Gbit/sec, cut-through routing
    Classes of Service: Class 2, Class 3 and Class F (inter-switch frames)
    Management Software: SNMP, Brocade Fabric Manager
    Fabric Services: Simple Name Server; Registered State Change Notification (RSCN); Alias Server (multicast); Brocade Advanced Zoning; FICON Control Unit Port (CUP) on FC4-16 and FC4-32 port blades; Fabric Watch; Extended Fabrics; Remote Switch; ISL Trunking, and Advanced Performance Monitoring
    Protocol Support: FCP, FICON, iSCSI, FCIP, Ethernet
    Application Support: Not provided
    Security: Software license key for Brocade Secure Fabric OS. Brocade Secure Fabric OS enables digital certificates and digital signatures, multiple levels of password protection, strong password encryption, Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) authentication, and 128-bit encryption of the switch's private key used for digital signatures. It also supports open management standards such as DH-CHAP for switch-to-switch authentication, SSH v2, SSL, RADIUS, and SNMP v3
    Scalability: 56 switch domains
    Interoperability: See the compatibility matrix at http://www.brocade.com/products/pdf/Fabric_Aware_Compatibility_%20Matrix-070110.pdf
    Vendor Comment: The Brocade SilkWorm 48000 director provides 4Gbit/sec Fibre Channel performance and scalability for large high-availability SANs -- with up to 384 ports in a single domain and proven fabric intelligence. Its design includes every high-availability feature to support "five-nines" operation. Full product family compatibility, multi-protocol capabilities, and application processing upgrades ensure investment protection.
    Availability: Currently available
    Base Cost: Not provided
    Detailed Specs: http://www.brocade.com/products/directors/silkworm_48000/index.jsp
    Vendor URL: www.brocade.com

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    Product Snapshot #2
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    Product: Brocade Communications Systems Inc.; Mi10K (formerly McData)

    Ports per Domain: Anywhere from 32 to 256; Each Mi10K can support from 1 to 4 domains.
    Port Speed(s): 1, 2, 4 or 10Gb Fibre Channel
    Performance: Full transfer rate, sustained at each speed.
    Latency: 28usec for Mi10k
    Classes of Service: Class 2, Class 3, Class F
    Management Software: Heterogeneous Enterprise Fabric Connectivity Manager (EFCM), SNMP v1/2/3, CLI – Telnet, SSH, SSHv2, FICON Management Server (CUP), Inband Management (OSMS), RSCN Filtering
    Fabric Services: Simple Name Server, Management Server, Fabric Config Server, Unzoned Name Server, Fabric Zone Server, FICON CUP Server, Fabric Login Server, Fabric Controller, Domain Controller
    Protocol Support: FC-PH, FC-PH-2, FC-PH-3, FC-GS-2, FC-GS-3, FC-FLA, FC-FG, FC-MI, FC-SW, FC-SW-2, 10GFC, FC-FS, FC-PI, FC-SB-2, FC-SB-3; FICON: Express 4 or lower
    Application Support: Support is provided for all partner (IBM, HDS, SUN, EMC) fabric based application including all replication and backup applications
    Security: SAN LPAR hard partitioning, Password Authentication, Radius Support, Security Log, Log-in banner, E/F port authentication, CHAP authentication, SSHv2, IP ACLs, SSH, SSL, SNMP v3, Port/switch/fabric binding
    Scalability: Up to 31 switches supported
    Interoperability: See the details at http://www.brocade.com/products/interop/san-interop.jsp
    Vendor Comment: The Mi10K is the ideal network consolation vehicle with 256 ports, support for FICON and Fibre Channel and hierarchical fabric segmentation with SAN LPARs and Open VSANs.
    Availability: Currently available
    Base Cost: List pricing for a 256 port Mi10K director is $451,727 USD
    Detailed Specs: http://www.brocade.com/products/directors/Mi10K/index.jsp
    Vendor URL: www.brocade.com

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    Product Snapshot #3
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    Product: Brocade Communications Systems Inc.; M6140 (formerly McData)

    Ports per Domain: 140 ports
    Port Speed(s): 1, 2, 4, and 10 Gb Fibre Channel
    Performance: Full duplex for 1, 2 and 4Gb
    Latency: Under 2 microseconds
    Classes of Service: Simple Name Server, Management Server, Fabric Config Server, Unzoned Name Server, Fabric Zone Server, FICON CUP Server, Fabric Login Server, Fabric Controller, Domain Controller
    Management Software: Heterogeneous Enterprise Fabric Connectivity Manager (EFCM), SNMP v1/2/3, CLI – Telnet, SSH, SSHv2, FICON Management Server (CUP), Inband Management (OSMS), RSCN Filtering
    Fabric Services: Simple Name Server, Management Server, Fabric Config Server, Unzoned Name Server, Fabric Zone Server, FICON CUP Server, Fabric Login Server, Fabric Controller, Domain Controller
    Protocol Support: FC-PH, FC-PH-2, FC-PH-3, FC-GS-2, FC-GS-3, FC-FLA, FC-FG, FC-MI, FC-SW, FC-SW-2, 10GFC, FC-FS, FC-PI, FC-SB-2, FC-SB-3; FICON: Express 4 or lower
    Application Support: Support is provided for all partner (IBM, HDS, SUN, EMC) fabric based application including all replication and backup applications
    Security: Password Authentication, Radius Support, Security Log, Log-in banner, E/F port authentication, CHAP authentication, SSHv2, IP ACLs, SSH, SSL, SNMP v3, Port, switch and fabric binding
    Scalability: Up to 31 switches
    Interoperability: See the details at http://www.brocade.com/products/interop/san-interop.jsp
    Vendor Comment: The M6140 is the ideal consolidation product for medium to small enterprises that require a high degree of granularity at a cost effective price point. The M6140 does not compromise when it relates to availability, performance or ease of use.
    Availability: Currently available
    Base Cost: List pricing for a 140 port M6140 director is $257,623 USD
    Detailed Specs: http://www.brocade.com/products/directors/M6140/index.jsp
    Vendor URL: www.brocade.com

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    Product Snapshot #4
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    Product: Cisco Systems Inc.; MDS 9124 Multilayer Fabric Switch

    Ports per Domain: 24 ports (maximum) per Chassis -- scalable from 8 to 24 ports on demand
    Port Speed(s): Line Rate Port speeds of 1, 2, and 4 Gbps Fibre Channel
    Performance: Line Rate Performance at 1, 2 and 4 Gbps speeds
    Latency: 1.1 microseconds
    Classes of Service: Class 2, Class 3, Class F
    Management Software: The Cisco MDS 9124 includes built-in storage network management, with all features available through a command-line interface (CLI) or Cisco Fabric Manager, a centralized management tool with task-based wizards that simplify management of a standalone switch or multiple switches and fabrics.
    Fabric Services: In addition to FC services like zoning, name services, and login services, MDS 9000 provides Advances Intelligent Services including, VSAN, Intelligent frame processing for ACL list, Congestion control (FCC),performance monitoring, ISL trunking and Security services. The Cisco MDS 9124 supports quick configuration and task wizards that allow it to be deployed quickly and easily in networks of any size.
    Protocol Support: Fibre Channel
    Application Support: SMB SAN consolidation, LAN free backup, Replication, Business Continuance, Enterprise Core Edge design
    Security: The Cisco MDS 9124 supports RADIUS and TACACS+, port security, fabric binding, Fibre Channel Security Protocol (FC-SP) host-to-switch and switch-to-switch authentication, Secure FTP (SFTP), Secure Shell Version 2 (SSHv2) and Simple Network Management Protocol Version 3 (SNMPv3) implementing Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), VSANs, hardware-enforced zoning, broadcast zones, and per-VSAN role-based access control (RBAC).
    Scalability: We have tested 26-50 switches in 1 SAN. In theory we support 1000s of switches in 1 SAN given our VSAN capability.
    Interoperability: The MDS 9000 family of multilayer directors and fabric switches supports various types of interoperability modes
    Vendor Comment: The Cisco MDS 9124 Multilayer Fabric Switch, provides enterprise-class capabilities such as virtual Storage Area Networks (VSANs), advanced security, high availability and flexibility, all powered by the Cisco SAN operating system. The new switch also offers "pay as you grow" on-demand ports and an easy point-and-click wizard that dramatically simplifies SAN setup and management.
    Availability: Currently available
    Base Cost: An estimated base starting price would be $5,000-$5,500 for 8 ports activated on the switch, and $7,000-$8,000 for 16 ports activated on the switch.
    Detailed Specs: http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps5990/products_data_sheet0900aecd80446023.html
    Vendor URL: www.cisco.com

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    Product Snapshot #5
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    Product: Cisco Systems Inc.; MDS 9506 Multilayer Director

    Ports per Domain: 192 ports (maximum) per chassis -- scalable from 12 to 192 ports; 12 to 192 1/2/4Gb Fibre Channel ports; 4 to 16 10 Gb Fibre Channel ports; 4 to 24 1Gb Ethernet ports
    Port Speed(s): Line rate port speeds of 1, 2, 4, and 10Gb Fibre Channel
    Performance: Line rate throughput at 1/2/4 and 10Gb. Depending upon the line card, Cisco MDS 9509 also supports oversubscription
    Latency: 5 microseconds for 50 byte packets
    Classes of Service: Class 2, Class 3, Class F
    Management Software: Cisco MDS 9000 family CLI, Cisco Fabric Manager and Device Manager and Cisco Fabric Manager Server (optional; requires Cisco Fabric Manager Server license). See details at http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps6030/products_data_sheet09186a00800c4656.html
    Fabric Services: In addition to standard FC services like zoning, name services, and login services, MDS 9000 provides Advances Intelligent Services including, VSAN, Intelligent frame processing for ACL list, Congestion control (FCC),performance monitoring, ISL trunking, Security services and Network based services (Virtualization, SANTap and Serverless Backup).
    Protocol Support: The Cisco MDS 9506 transparently integrates Fibre Channel, IBM Fiber Connection (FICON), Small Computer System Interface over IP (iSCSI), and Fibre Channel over IP (CIP) in one system
    Application Support: Data Center SAN Consolidation, Business Continuance, Centralized SAN Management, Advanced SAN Security for Compliance and Regulation, Centralized Backup, Recovery and Archive through Intelligent Fabric Applications, Storage Virtualization, Serverless Backup and CDP using Cisco SANTap
    Security: Supports RADIUS and TACACS+, Fibre Channel Security Protocol (FC-SP), Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), Secure Shell (SSH) Protocol, and Simple Network Management Protocol Version 3 (SNMPv3), Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), VSANs, hardware-enforced zoning, ACLs, and per-VSAN role-based access control.
    Scalability: We have test 26-50 switches in 1 SAN. In theory we support 1000s of switches in one SAN given our VSAN capability.
    Interoperability: The MDS 9000 Family of multilayer directors and fabric switches supports various types of interoperability modes
    Vendor Comment: Providing investment protection is one of the best ways to help customers control costs. The Cisco MDS 9506 provides forward and backward compatibility by supporting all currently shipping Cisco switching modules. This allows customers to mix and match switching modules to achieve optimal performance at the most cost effective price, while avoiding costly forklift upgrades.
    Availability: Currently available
    Base Cost: An estimated base starting price would be $77,000 USD
    Detailed Specs: http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps5990/products_data_sheet09186a00801ce948.html
    Vendor URL: www.cisco.com

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    Product Snapshot #6
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    Product: Cisco Systems Inc.; MDS 9509 Multilayer Director

    Ports per Domain: 336 ports (maximum) per chassis -- scalable from 12 to 336 ports; 12 to 336 1/2/4Gb auto-sensing Fibre Channel ports; 4 to 28 10Gb Fibre Channel ports; 4 to 48 1Gb Ethernet ports
    Port Speed(s): Line Rate Port speeds of 1, 2, 4, and 10Gb Fibre Channel
    Performance: Line Rate throughput at 1/2/4 and 10Gb. Depending upon the line card, Cisco MDS 9509 also supports oversubscriptions
    Latency: 5 microseconds for 50 byte packets
    Classes of Service: Class 2, Class 3, Class F
    Management Software: Cisco MDS 9000 family CLI, Cisco Fabric Manager and Device Manager and Cisco Fabric Manager Server (optional; requires Cisco Fabric Manager Server license). See details at http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps6030/products_data_sheet09186a00800c4656.html
    Fabric Services: In addition to standard FC services like zoning, name services, and login services, MDS 9000 provides Advances Intelligent Services including, VSAN, intelligent frame processing for ACL list, congestion control (FCC), performance monitoring, ISL trunking, security services and network based services (e.g., Virtualization, SANTap and Serverless Backup).
    Protocol Support: The Cisco MDS 9000 transparently integrates Fibre Channel, IBM Fiber Connection (FICON), Small Computer System Interface over IP (iSCSI), and Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) in one system
    Application Support: Data Center SAN Consolidation, Business Continuance, Centralized SAN Management, Advanced SAN Security for Compliance and Regulation, Centralized Backup, Recovery & Archive through Intelligent Fabric Applications, Storage Virtualization, Serverless Backup and CDP using Cisco SANTap
    Security: Supports RADIUS and TACACS+, Fibre Channel Security Protocol (FC-SP), Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), Secure Shell (SSH) Protocol, and Simple Network Management Protocol Version 3 (SNMPv3), Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), VSANs, hardware-enforced zoning, ACLs, and per-VSAN role-based access control.
    Scalability: We have tested 26-50 switches in one SAN. In theory we can support 1000s of switches given our VSAN capability.
    Interoperability: The MDS 9000 family of multilayer directors and fabric switches supports various types of interoperability modes
    Vendor Comment: Providing investment protection is one of the best ways to help customers control costs. The Cisco MDS 9509 provides forward and backward compatibility by supporting all currently shipping Cisco switching modules. This allows customers to mix and match switching modules to achieve optimal performance at the most cost effective price, while avoiding costly forklift upgrades.
    Availability: Currently available
    Base Cost: An estimated base starting price would be $85,000 USD
    Detailed Specs: http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps5990/products_data_sheet09186a00801ce945.html
    Vendor URL: www.cisco.com

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    Product Snapshot #7
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    Product: Cisco Systems Inc.; MDS 9513 Multilayer Director

    Ports per Domain: 528 ports (maximum) per chassis -- scalable from 12 to 528; 12 to 528 1/2/4Gb Fibre Channel ports; 4 to 44 10Gb Fibre Channel ports; 4 to 60 1Gb Ethernet ports
    Port Speed(s): Line rate port speeds of 1, 2, 4, and 10Gb Fibre Channel
    Performance: Line Rate throughput at 1/2/4 and 10Gb. Depending upon the line card, Cisco MDS 9513 also supports oversubscriptions
    Latency: 5 microseconds for 50 byte packets
    Classes of Service: Class 2, Class 3, Class F
    Management Software: Cisco MDS 9000 family CLI, Cisco Fabric Manager and Device Manager and Cisco Fabric Manager Server (optional; requires Cisco Fabric Manager Server license). See details at http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps6030/products_data_sheet09186a00800c4656.html
    Fabric Services: Apart from the standard FC services like zoning, name services, and login services, MDS 9000 provides Advances Intelligent Services including, VSAN, Intelligent frame processing for ACL list, Congestion control (FCC),performance monitoring, ISL trunking, Security services and Network based services (e.g., Virtualization, SANTap and Serverless Backup).
    Protocol Support: The Cisco MDS 9513 transparently integrates Fibre Channel, IBM Fiber Connection (FICON), Small Computer System Interface over IP (iSCSI), and Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) in one system.
    Application Support: Data Center SAN Consolidation, Business Continuance, Centralized SAN Management, Advanced SAN Security for Compliance and Regulation, Centralized Backup, Recovery & Archive through Intelligent Fabric Applications, Storage Virtualization, Serverless Backup and CDP using Cisco SANTap
    Security: Supports RADIUS and TACACS+, Fibre Channel Security Protocol (FC-SP), Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), Secure Shell (SSH) Protocol, and Simple Network Management Protocol Version 3 (SNMPv3), Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), VSANs, hardware-enforced zoning, ACLs, and per-VSAN role-based access control.
    Scalability: We have tested 26-50 switches in one SAN. In theory there can be 1000s of switches in a SAN given Cisco's VSAN capability.
    Interoperability: The MDS 9000 family of multilayer directors and fabric switches supports various types of interoperability modes
    Vendor Comment: Providing investment protection is one of the best ways to help customers control costs. The Cisco MDS 9513 provides forward and backward compatibility by supporting all currently shipping Cisco switching modules. This allows customers to mix and match switching modules to achieve optimal performance at the most cost effective price, while avoiding costly forklift upgrades.
    Availability: Currently available
    Base Cost: An estimated base starting price would be $100,000
    Detailed Specs: http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps5990/products_data_sheet0900aecd80446023.html
    Vendor URL: www.cisco.com

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    This was first published in March 2007

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