News Release

Cisco Enhances SAN Consolidation and Blade Server Connectivity Across Heterogeneous Fabrics

Cisco Provides Native Interoperability with QLogic Blade Server Switches and Introduces InterVSAN Routing with Network Address Translation
Apr 13, 2005

PHOENIX - (Storage Networking World, Spring 2005) - April 13, 2005 - Cisco Systems, Inc.® today announced a set of features that enhance customers' ability to consolidate and share resources across heterogeneous Storage Area Network (SAN) fabrics. Network address translation capabilities for its Inter-Virtual SAN routing (IVR) feature give storage area networking (SAN) administrators the ability to consolidate legacy SANs and share resources across heterogeneous SANs. Native interoperability with QLogic blade server switches allows users to deploy heterogeneous networks of Cisco and QLogic switches without the need to place either company's products in interop mode. This capability adds to existing support for third party switches via a variety of interop modes. With these features, Cisco delivers customer investment protection for existing SAN environments while allowing them to make a smooth transition to Cisco intelligent SAN fabrics to reduce their total cost of ownership.

Fibre Channel Network Address Translation (FC NAT), an enhancement of Cisco's existing IVR function for SAN Routing, is available as part of the Cisco MDS 9000 SAN-OS 2.1, the latest version of the operating system for the Cisco MDS 9000 Family of Multilayer Intelligent directors and fabric switches. FC NAT gives customers the flexibility to route between multi-vendor SANs without address limitations. It enables SAN consolidation and resource sharing between SANs without the need to reconfigure existing infrastructure, minimizing the time and resources needed for implementation. There is no performance impact to mission-critical applications because FC NAT functionality is handled in hardware by dedicated application-specific integrated circuits, or ASICs. And because routing is accomplished within the switch, rather than with an external appliance, the Cisco solution provides scalability and availability while reducing cost and complexity.

"The addition of Network Address Translation to Cisco Inter-VSAN Routing represents an important advance in SAN technology to support consolidation and resource sharing between SAN islands," said John Webster, founder and senior analyst at the Data Mobility Group. "This step brings Fibre Channel routing much closer to the capabilities we expect of Internet Protocol (IP) routing."

FC NAT on the Cisco MDS 9000 can also be extended across long distances using a variety of SAN extension transport technologies such as IP, optical networks, and dark fiber. This enables SANs to scale far beyond the local reach without having to maintain a globally unique addressing scheme. FC NAT further enhances Cisco VSAN technology, which has been adopted for building "Virtual Fabrics" by the Technical Committee T11 of the International Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) for approval as an industry standard by the American National Standard Institute (ANSI). IVR has been available since early 2004 and is under consideration as an industry standard for "Fibre Channel Fabric Routing".

Native interoperability with QLogic blade server switches allows customers to consolidate blade server storage resources while leveraging Cisco intelligent storage networking infrastructure to provide capabilities such as VSANs, integrated InterVSAN Routing, and now integrated InterVSAN Routing with FC NAT. Native interoperability provides plug-and-play capability and removes the limitations often associated with explicitly defined interoperability modes. Native interoperability with QLogic blade server switches augments the current ability of the MDS 9000 to interoperate with other third party SAN switches via a variety of supported switch interop modes.

Inter VSAN Routing with FC NAT and native QLogic interoperability enables customers to support Data Center initiatives such as SAN consolidation, SAN connectivity for blade servers, and SAN migration across heterogeneous fabrics, without the usual scaling, interoperability, or addressing limitations of merged fabrics.