Cisco beefs up storage line

A year after introducing its 9700 series of multi-protocol storage networking solutions, Cisco Systems is expanding the line with what it says it the industry’s most affordable 16 GB switch and a more powerful storage director.

“For those customers that are looking to deploy Ethernet and do LAN/SAN convergence they can do it with the Nexus family,” Nitin Garg, who leads the product management team for several storage networking platforms, said in an interview. “If they’re looking to deploy Fibre Channel, they can do it with the MDS.”

The new hardware for the MDS line will enable large scale storage deployments and simplify SAN management in a 16 Gbps Fibre Channel portfolio.

They include

— the MDS 9148S, a 1U fabric switch which can offer up to 48 ports of 16Gbps Fibre Channel. There’s a 12 port base version, but customers can turn on more as they need in 12-port increments.
It includes automated provisioning, a quick configuration wizard, non- disruptive software upgrades, dual power supplies and fans. Included is the ability to port channel links between switches.
It can be used for small SANS or top of rack switch in an edge core architecture connected to a director.

Garg compares it to the Brocade 6505 switch, which has up to 24 ports; and Brocade’s 6510, which has 48 ports. Brocade’s 6505 has only one power supply in its base mode, he said, but the Cisco switch has two. And he said the Cisco switch costs less for similar port ranges: US$10,680 for the Cisco switch vs US$17,103 for the 12 port version of the Brocade switch; and US$42,420 for the Cisco 9148S vs $54,535 for the Brocade 6510.

–The MDS 9706 Director, a six-slot (9RU) chassis that replaces the 9706. It can hold up to 196 16Gbps Fibre Channel ports, or 10 Gbps Fibre Channel over Ethernet ports, or, in the future, FICON (Fibre Connection) cards.

Cisco MDS 9706 Director
Cisco MDS 9706 Director

The new model provides up to 1.5 Tbps switching capacity per slot, 15 times faster than the older model.

The same 48-port 16 Gb FC module for the Cisco 9710 also goes into the new chassis. That module goes up to 768 Gbps. Customers can get 1.5 TB by adding more fabric modules.

— the MDS 9700 48-port, 10 GB FCoE module for the 9700 series. The previous module offered only eight ports.

The new module allows customers to unify their Ethernet LAN and Fibre Channel SAN using Fibre Chanel over Ethernet, Garg said, and run traffic on a single wire. It connects to the Cisco Nexus or USC Fabric Interconnect switches.

Through these new additions and upgrades to their NX-OS operating system Cisco has also more than doubled the number of ports and physical/virtual devices networks can support by increasing the number of zones and fabric logins supported.

Dynamic Fibre Channel over Ethernet over Fabric Path is now also supported.

Finally Cisco also said it is simplifying SAN management through the automated provisioning of the new 9148S switch to enable rapid error-free deployments.

Cisco is opening MDS management by supporting automated zoning integration with Cisco UCS Cloud Director, EMC ViPR, Microsoft System Center VMM, and IBM PowerVC to enable pooling of heterogeneous storage assets and centralization of storage management.

Cisco is adding three new features to enhance SAN monitoring:

–Switch Health Score combines all of the impactful switch alerts on a switch to come up with a single health score so that storage administrators can track health of switches over time and proactively restore a switch in the event of an issue.

–End-to-end visibility into compute, network and storage domains allows for resource planning and problem analysis.

–Automated path redundancy analysis automatically analyzes, every 24 hours and on demand, whether the redundant paths in SAN Fabric A and in Fabric B are maintaining best practices, thereby signaling any issues proactively.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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