Zoning in Cisco SAN switch for beginners

Three years ago I wrote “Zoning in Brocade FC SAN switch for beginners”. Many people found it useful and some even emailed me saying it was very helpful. Their kindness inspired me to post more content to this blog and I am very thankful to each and every one of my blog readers. Brocade and Cisco FC networking devices are found in almost all data centers. It would be a bias to not cover the zoning steps in Cisco 😉 So here is zoning steps in Cisco fiber channel switches and directors,

Zoning in Cisco devices is pretty straightforward. A zone contains multiple zone members. Zone members are device pWWN (pWWN of the N-Port attached to the switch), fabric pWWN (Switch port pWWN – Port based zoning) etc. This tutorial is based on the attached device pWWN. As this is more common and have advantages when compared with other types of zone membership. Once a zone is added with members, it is added to a zone set. A zoneset is a collection of zones. Consider reading Zoning in Brocade FC SAN switch for beginners to understand the basics and the need for zoning.

Zones are contained in a VSAN.

Best practice is to configure a zone with single initiator and single target. This is to avoid unnecessary use of switch resources. Although zones are contained in a VSAN, only one zoneset can be active at any given time. When you activate a zoneset the configuration information is sent to all other switches in the fabric and it the new zoneset is enforced on all switches. For easy understanding here is a picture of zones which contains single initiator and target,

single initiator and target zones.
single initiator and target zones. © MDS 9000 Fabric configuration guide

As you can see, a fabric means collection of switches (inter connected together) or a single switch. S1, S2, S3 are storage devices and H1, H2, H3 are hosts. The next image illustrates how zones and zonesets are represented in a fabric,

zones and zonesets
zones and zonesets © MDS 9000 Fabric configuration guide

Here is a summary of what we discussed,

  • pWWN of devices attached to switch port is called zone member and it is added to a zone.
  • One or more zones are then added to a zoneset.
  • Finally, only one zoneset is activated and the change propagates fabric wide.

Before proceeding further identify and make a note of the pWWN’s of N-Ports that are going to be zoned together.

Zoning CLI commands

Since zones are contained in a VSAN, Any zone creation must happen on the concerned VSAN. First, we need to enter into the configuration mode and then into VSAN.

Step 1: Enter configuration mode

switch# config t

Step 2: Creating zone (testzone) on VSAN 100

switch(config)# zone name testzone vsan 100

Step 3: Adding members to the newly created zone

switch(config-zone)# member pwwn 10:00:ff:05:1e:4b:d5:30

and repeat the same to add another member (target)

switch(config-zone)# member pwwn 50:01:10:80:00:ad:33:e8

Step 4: Add the newly create zone to test_zoneset.

switch(config-zone)# zoneset name test_zoneset vsan 100

The above command selects the zoneset test_zoneset

switch(config-zoneset)# member testzone

Now we have added the newly created zone to zoneset in fabric. Next step is to active the zoneset.

Step 5: Activating the zoneset is an online process and the ports/devices which is being configured/re-configured are only affected.

switch(config-zoneset)# zoneset activate name test_zoneset vsan 100

Final Step: Once the zoneset is activated the running configuration must be copied to the startup configuration. This is done to prevent the switch from losing the configuration information. The following command copies the running configuration to the startup configuration on all switches in fabric.

switch# copy running-config startup-config fabric

And we are done, congratulations! The switch should be able to let the host and storage talk to each other. Hope you find this useful. Got question? post it in the comments section.

How to implement core edge fabric using Cisco and Brocade SAN switches? (interopmode)

Update : Starting from FOS 7.1 Brocade does not support IM1, IM2, IM3 (IM – interop mode). But if you want to connect Cisco and Brocade switches the only option is to use Access Gateway (Brocade) and NPV (Cisco) feature. Following article is for reference only. 

Core edge fabric is the most used fabric in any data centers for many reasons, but if we have Cisco MDS9000 director and Brocade edge switch or any other vendor how are we going to make them communicate with each other? Both the devices much acknowledge that they know who they are in the fabric.

This can be accomplished by setting the correct interopmode, Hardware manufactures follows the Fiber channel standards but often it’s modified to accommodate new features, since they are proprietary vendors has to implement an interop mode to function in these environments.

MDS 9000 Family interopmode:

  • Default or Native mode – This is a default mode for vsan communicating in fabric with cisco switches.
  • Interopmode 1 – This is a standard interop mode, this mode is sent in cisco switch to operate with Brocade and McData switches, make sure both these switches are operating in their own interopmode
  • Interopmode 2 – If a cisco switch is set to this mode then it can operate with specific Brocade switch running in native mode, meaning no change made in Brocade but its core pid is set to 0
  • Interopmode 3 – This is similar to 2 but this mode was introduced to accommodate Brocade switches with more than 16 ports.
  • Interopmode 4 – This mode was introduced to operate with McData switches running in McData fabric interopmode.

For example in the fabric if you have Cisco director as core and Brocade switches as edge then we need to set interopmode 1 in Cisco director and in Brocade we need to set Interopmode 1

Things to consider before changing interopmode:

  1. Eliminate duplicate zones if there is any
  2. Firmware versions
  3. Unique domain ID on each switch (if you find a duiplicate you can change the domain ID - refer CLI guides)
  4. The value of R_A_TOV should be 1000 and E_D_TOV should be 2000 in all switches on the fabric

There are few other interop modes that can be used. If you want me to add further information to this post please comment your suggestion/feedback.

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defzone feature in Brocade and its Cisco counterpart

Default zone mode in Brocade and Cisco is similar to Ethernet switch where you can simply connect devices to the switch to get going. But as you know in SAN you need to configure zones to let the devices to talk to each other. But if default zone feature is enabled it allows all devices in fabric to communicate with each other seamlessly.

This will work only if there isn’t any active config. When you enable an active config it will automatically override the default zone.

Command to enable in Brocade

# defzone --allaccess
# cfg save - needs to be executed after enabling this feature

Command to enable in Cisco

Enter configuration terminal

# zone default-zone  permit vsan vsan-id

Before executing the command devices must be added to a vsan.

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