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What hard and soft port zoning means

This is a Q&A from SAN School Lesson 3.
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You made a comment that port zoning doesn't use the name server. It does. What did you mean by this? Your comment that the name server will complain when merging a fabric if you use non-unique alias names, what does it mean? Aliases are not stored in the name server.
My comment was geared toward the differences between "HARD" zoning and "SOFT" zoning. By saying port zoning does not use the name server, I meant to indicate that port zoning is enforced via the hardware and that when using hard or "port" zoning, frames not destined to the zoned ports are barred by the hardware from those ports. Soft zoning, or "WWN" zoning uses only software (the name server) to enforce the zones (this is changing with newer switches) and "frames are not barred from being transmitted between nodes that are not in the same zone" (quoted from Building SANS with Brocade, by Chris Beauchamp).

The alias server is a type of "name server" that uses extended link service requests (Alias_ID) to refer to multiple N_ports through a single name. My comment was to warn users who attempt to integrate separate fabrics with zoning in place, that they will run into difficulty connecting the fabrics together if they have used the same alias names for anything. Chris

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