Products & Services

Cisco MDS Features Optimize Virtual Machines

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Virtualization brings numerous advantages to the data center, including:

  • More efficient resource utilization
  • Decreased management complexity
  • Lower power and cooling demands

However, it also introduces new challenges, especially for SAN deployments in virtual machine environments. These challenges include:

  • Specific performance requirements
  • Application isolation
  • Security
  • Granularity in traffic engineering and access control
  • Business continuance and disaster recovery
  • Advanced connectivity options

Cisco MDS 9000 Family takes an innovative approach to address these challenges.


Cisco MDS 9500 Series Multilayer Directors with cross-bar architecture and design meet the most stringent performance requirements:

  • In nonvirtualized deployments with a large number of physical servers hosting one application per server or cluster, traffic normally is predictable and can be engineered to achieve better performance.
  • In VMware environments with a large number of virtualized servers organized in a hypervisor cluster and any-to-any connectivity, traffic becomes unpredictable, and therefore performance must be predictable across all SAN components regardless of their placement.

Quality of Service

You need granular traffic prioritization tools for application management across all enterprise applications in a virtualized, consolidated, physical SAN. The Cisco implementation of QoS is transparently integrated with both N-port identifier virtualization (NPIV) and VSAN capabilities. It has the following advantages over the competition:

  • User-defined QoS values instead of preset levels
  • Capability to configure QoS per VSAN as well as within a specific VSAN at the same time

You can prioritize your applications when building a tiered approach in virtualized environments within a certain tier (a storage tier fits well in a dedicated VSAN) as well as within each tier.


When virtualization and virtual machine mobility are considered with respect to security, the Cisco implementation of role-based access control (RBAC) is superior to that of the competition:

  • 64 user-definable roles in the MDS 9000 Family compared to 9 predefined roles in the competing solution
  • Configurable limits to the number of user login sessions in the MDS 9000 Family compared to fixed number of user login sessions per role in the competing solution
  • VSAN-aware roles in the MDS 9000 Family compared to switch-based roles in the competing solution

This brings significant advantages to customers when virtual machines are deployed in conjunction with VSAN and IVR features.

Note that Cisco MDS 9000 Family RBAC is as flexible as the RBAC provided by VMware vCenter, allowing the creation of parallel groups of administrators with very specific focus, to support related areas of the virtual infrastructure and the fabric.