The Cisco MDS 9000 platform offers a mainframe IBM fiber connection (FICON) intermix. It includes complete traffic and management isolation and advanced distance extension, quality of service, and scaling.
IBM mainframes have been the workhorses of the computing world for almost 50 years and many large organizations still entrust IBM System z servers with their most mission-critical and demanding applications.
The Cisco MDS 9000 Mainframe package can enable the connection of Cisco MDS storage directors with the IBM System z server with both FICON and FCP. This support includes the MDS 9700 family, the MDS 9500 family, the MDS 9250i and the MDS 9222i.
The MDS 9000 Mainframe package includes a number of features, including:
The Cisco MDS 9710 and 9706 FICON and Fibre Channel multilayer directors set a new standard for availability and performance for connection to the IBM z System. They support 16 Gigabit FICON and Fibre Channel and are fully interoperable with the new IBM z13. FICON support for the MDS 9710 begins with NX-OS 6.2(5a) and support for the MDS 9706 begins with NX-OS 6.2(11c).
Hardware/Software Features include:
This switch provides highly scalable SAN extension capabilities for the System z environment. The System provides both 16 Gbps FICON and FCP as well as a pair of 10 Gigabit FCIP links that can be used for long distance applications.
FICON support for the MDS 9250i was introduced with NX-OS Release 6.2(11c).
Hardware/Software Features include:
For System z environments, reliability and stability out of the box are critical. Given this, Cisco partners with IBM to do interoperability testing of Cisco FICON solutions. This testing is done at the IBM Poughkeepsie Programming Lab where all new System z models are tested.
IBM FICON Qualification Letters for the Cisco MDS Family
Cisco also does qualification testing with Oracle (previously SUN and StorageTek) to help ensure interoperability between the Cisco FICON solutions and the real and virtual tape solutions from Oracle.
Cisco MDS 9000 FICON FAQ (PDF - 166 KB)
Q. Does IBM support Fibre Connection (FICON) on the Cisco® MDS 9700 Series (9710 and 9706 in particular)?
A. Yes. The MDS 9710 chassis was first IBM-qualified with Cisco NX-OS Software Release 6.2(5a). The MDS 9706 chassis was IBM-qualified in Release 6.2(11c). In both releases, all previously supported hardware platforms were also renewed in their qualification, including the MDS 9513, MDS 9509, MDS 9506, and MDS 9222i. You can find all IBM qualification letters on the Interoperability tab.
Q. Do the Cisco MDS 9700 FICON Multilayer Directors support IBM's Forward Error Correction (FEC) as seen on the FICON Express 16S feature on the IBM System z13?
A. Yes. FEC is supported today on the MDS 9710 and MDS 9706 with NX-OS Release 6.2(11c). FEC is also supported for 16-GB Inter-Switch Links (ISLs) between MDS 9700 Series systems.
Q. Does the MDS 9250i support FICON?
A. Yes. FICON is supported on the MDS 9250i starting with NX-OS Software Release 6.2(11c) and later.
Q. Does FICON on the MDS support control unit port (CUP)?
A. Yes. CUP is the inline management interface between the System z and the FICON VSAN. You can use it for both configuration and control of the director if desired. The System z also can use this interface to gather performance statistics from the director. The CUP feature is included as part of the Mainframe license.
Q.Do the MDS 9700 FICON Multilayer Directors support the new System z13 FICON Dynamic Routing feature?
A. Yes. All MDS systems that support FICON on the NX-OS Release 6.2(5a) have FICON Dynamic Routing. In fact, this feature is nothing new; for Cisco this feature is called Originator Exchange ID (OXID)-based routing, and it has been present in the MDS for more than 10 years. Before implementing FICON Dynamic Routing between the System z13 and the MDS FICON Multilayer Directors, it is important to verify that all of the peripherals (disk, tape, etc.) in the FICON virtual storage area network (VSAN) also support this feature.