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Cisco MDS 9000 Family Delivers Enterprise-Class SAN via PortChannel

Today's enterprise-class SAN environment requires high availability. The enterprise-class SAN environment must offer robust performance and must be highly scalable and flexible, simple to deploy, resilient, and predictable.

One means of delivering high availability at the network level is aggregation of multiple physical Inter-Switch Links (ISLs) into a single logical interface. This aggregation provides link redundancy and greater aggregated bandwidth, plus load balancing and fast reconvergence.

Cisco MDS 9000 Family PortChannel provides higher availability, greater flexibility, and three times the aggregated bandwidth of the competition and does not require a special license. The PortChannel can be deployed immediately to enhance network availability and robustness.

Higher Availability and Greater Flexibility


The Cisco MDS 9000 Family PortChannel can be configured to logically bundle physical links from any ports on any Cisco MDS 9000 Family Fibre Channel Switching Modules with no restrictions. The competitor's approach does not deliver a highly available solution, nor is it easy and flexible to deploy.

Because the competitor's trunking solution can use only the ports within the same port group on the same module, you must carefully determine which ports belong to which port group to enable the trunk. More importantly, the entire trunk will fail if just the ASIC behind the port group being used fails.

Greater Resiliency


Each ISL in an MDS PortChannel is treated in the same way to enhance high availability and robustness: a failure of any link will not affect the overall PortChannel stability.

The competitor's trunking solution relies on the concept of master and slave links, in which one ISL within a trunk is a master, and others are slaves. If the master link fails, the entire trunk fails. Then a new master is selected, taking the trunk offline for a period of time and disrupting the network.

Our competitor fixed this serious problem for E-port trunking, but not for EX-port trunking, in which the trunk is used for routing.

Three Times the Aggregated Bandwidth


The MDS PortChannel solution offers greater scalability by supporting up to 16 ISLs per PortChannel and aggregating 1-, 2-, 4-, 8-, or 10-Gbps Fibre Channel links. This feature allows aggregation of up to 20,400 MB of application throughput per PortChannel for exceptional scalability.

A limitation of the competitor's internal architecture restricts its trunking solution to a maximum of 8 ISLs per trunk for 1-, 2-, 4-, and 8-Gbps Fibre Channel links, but not for 10-Gbps Fibre Channel. These constraints limit the scalability of the trunk to only 6,800 MB, one-third the capacity delivered by the MDS PortChannel solution.

Outperforms Competition over Long Distances


The MDS PortChannel solution does not show any performance degradation over long distances, and it has no specific cabling requirements. MDS PortChannel uses flow-based load balancing and can deliver predictable and robust performance independent of covered distances.

The competitor's solution recommends a distance variance of 30 meters or less among ISLs within a trunk. If the distance variance is greater than 30 meters, undesired and degraded performance will occur. For example, if a trunk has a distance of 100 kilometers, the competitor's trunking solution allows a cable length variance of only 0.03 percent.

PortChannel Is Free


Cisco considers high availability essential in today's data center environment and offers the MDS PortChannel free of charge as part of its NX-OS software. Because it does not require a special license, the PortChannel can be deployed immediately to enhance network availability and robustness.

The competitor's solution requires customers to purchase a trunking license to enable this critical feature, creating deployment complications.