Cisco 31Jul2014 Announces new 16G SAN Fabric Switch, Director & FCoE module

In MDS 9148S, MDS 9706 Director by AdministratorLeave a Comment

Cisco recently released a new 16G MDS 9148S Multilayer Fabric Switch, a new MDS 9706 Director and a new MDS 48 port, 10G line-rate FCoE module.

Cisco MDS 9148S Fabric Switch

The new top-of-rack/small SAN Fabric switch offers 12 to 48 2/4/8/16G FC ports which support automatic provisioning, non-disruptive software upgrades, up to 32 Virtual SANs (VSANs) and hardware-based, slow-drain detection and recovery in a 1U package.

Automatic provisioning provides a consistent configuration on power up which includes IP address, gateway, software image and a configuration file that can be used in conjunction with a quick configuration wizard. There is no need for a separate serial cable to configure the new switch.

Slow-drain detection and recovery happens when a host/target is hogging buffer credits because it is too slow to keep up with the fabric. Other switches offer software-based detection but not recovery. With Cisco’s 16G switches – the MDS 9710, 9706, 9250i, and 9148S, slow-drain symptoms are detected in 1 msec. and recovery is initiated within nanoseconds.

Other features includes Inter VSAN routing, QoS, Port Channels, and N-Port ID Virtualization (NPIV). The new fabric switch also includes hot-swappable redundant power supplies and fans for higher availability.

Cisco MDS 9706 Director

The new director offers the same functionality of the MDS 9710 Director only in a smaller, 9U form factor. The new director provides 1.5Tbps/slot or full 16G line-rate bandwidth to each port of a 48-port line card. The MDS 9706 supplies a full 12Tbps front-panel switch bandwidth, which allows upgrades to future full 32Gbps FC line-rate speeds.

The MDS 9706 Director supports up to 192-16Gbps FC or -10Gpbs FCoE ports. Future offerings will also include FICON.

The new director offers N+1 fabric redundancy, redundant supervisors, power supplies and fans. The MDS 9706 uses front-to-back airflow to enable hot-cold aisle deployments.

The system comes standard with a single 48-port line module and can be expanded by adding 3 more 48-port line modules.

Cisco 48 port, 10G FCoE module

Cisco also introduced a new line module for their MDS 9700 series directors. The new module enables multi-hop FCoE networks that support separate LAN and SAN cores. This way Cisco Nexus switches can split up a converged LAN/SAN Ethernet workload into dedicated backend FCoE and Ethernet links, connecting the FCoE links to MDS 9700 series directors and to storage systems.

Other software enhancements

Cisco is also providing SAN fabrics with more devices, zones and hosts. The number of zones per fabric and fabric logins per fabric, switch and module have all increased significantly over previous Cisco directors/switches. The new MDS 9700/Nexus 7700 support 16K zones per fabric, 20K logins per fabric, 4K logins per switch and 1K logins per module. Also, in a future software release, the number of fabric domains will go from 60 to 80. All this means lots more switches, hosts and VMs supported on fabric infrastructure.

The new FC switch and director are supported with UCS director workflow-based provisioning, EMC ViPR software management, Microsoft System Center VMM and IBM PowerVC. Also new Cisco DCNM software can provide end-to-end visibility with path dependency mapping across multiple domains and multi-protocols. This means that the path from the host to its LUNs can be more easily understood, monitored, and maintained.


FCoE is becoming more widely deployed in data centers and the new FCoE module should facilitate even more adoption. Cisco’s new switch and director are offering a lot more bandwidth to top of rack switches and smaller form-factor directors which should help floor space/rack space constrained data centers do more within current footprints. And the automated provisioning and improved end-to-end path visibility available from software enhancements should make it much easier to deploy and manage Cisco SAN fabrics which should help facilitate wider SAN deployments in the data center and the cloud.

[This storage announcement summary dispatch was originally sent out to our newsletter subscribers in August of 2014.  If you would like to receive this information via email please consider signing up for our free monthly newsletter (see subscription request, above right) and we will send our current issue along with download instructions for this and other reports. Dispatches are posted to our website at least a quarter or more after they are sent to our subscribers. Also we have recently updated (May 2019) our SAN Storage Buying Guide so if you are looking to buy block or primary storage, please checkout our Buying Guide available for sale on our website. ]  

Silverton Consulting, Inc. is a Storage, Strategy & Systems consulting services company, based in the USA offering products and services to the data storage community.

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