MDS Switches Provide and Enterprise Class SAN Fabric for Demanding Workloads
May 26, 2021

MDS Switches Provide and Enterprise Class SAN Fabric for Demanding Workloads

Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Modules Used

  • Cisco MDS 9200 Series Multiservice Switches

Overall Satisfaction with Cisco MDS 9000 Series Multilayer Switches

We use a mix of MDS 9248, and 9396 fabric switches to support FC SAN Fabrics. These [Cisco MDS 9000 Series Multilayer Switches] provide FC SAN Fabric to virtualized VMware environments and for bare-metal hosts running either Windows or Red Hat. The MDS's enable us to have a standard method of presenting FC fabric across the facility. We are currently visiting the implementation of [stretched] FC fabric through DWDM to replace FCIP replication between storage arrays.
  • Zoning
  • High MTBF
  • Buffer Credits
  • Centralized Management through DCNM
  • Cost (Port License Cost vs New Switch)
  • 3rd Part SFP+ Compatibility
  • Smart Zoning (personally prefer SIMT)
  • High MTBF
  • Stable hardened OS reducing the need for constant upgrades
  • NVMeOF Compatibility
  • High port density in relatively small footprint (with 9396)
For a high performing team with a number of SAN islands within a single facility, being able to have one standard product for FC fabric presentation to hosts has enabled us to run a smaller supporting team. We no longer have to manage different SAN fabrics across the environment and the compatibility with Next-Gen storage like NVMeOF ensures we don't need to forklift replace the equipment to support demanding workloads.
For raw throughput performance, we haven't experienced any issues directly relating to the [Cisco MDS 9000 Series Multilayer Switches], these issues have been up or downstream. We are not driving unified policies across the datacenter in our deployment, policy definition is done at a standards/governance layer and each environment is individually brought up to compliance. I would like to drive it further with automation, but having an applicable gap between updating A/B fabrics is great from a change management perspective. Automation drives efficiency but can add risk depending on implementation approach.
We tend to not deploy MDS's in an ISL deployment pattern, rather deploying a single unit with high enough port density to suit our requirements. Our standard switches are either 9248 or 9396's. My only issue is the high cost of adding additional port licenses "golden screwdrivers" for existing infrastructure. Historically its been cheaper to add a new switch and ISL than add additional licenses if you only have 1/4 to 1/2 licensed.
We have not experienced any specific critical or zero-day exploits that have required an urgent update of code. We leverage tools like Prime for AAA which meets our security requirements.
We looked at the Brocade G series and IBM SAN switches, but the seamless integration into our AAA suite and availability of skills in our local market were big factors. We also have these deployed in FlexPod and VxBlock environments, which the reference architectures provide additional confidence in the solutions overall compatibility, supportability and sustainability.

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[Cisco MDS 9000 Series Multilayer Switches] provide an enterprise class SAN fabric for the consumption of storage devices across a multitude of devices within the datacenter. MDS is well suited to provide storage presentation to Virtualized environments (VMware in our case) and for bare metal hosts. The 9200 and 9300 family are capable to provide this without the requirement for a larger director switch within the datacenter.

Whilst configuration through the CLI is preferred, DCNM still falls short of being able to provide a single pane of glass without additional expensive licenses.