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When you say you need more channels in your network, are you looking for more connectivity ports, available bandwidth or lower latency? A couple of other questions to ask include: How big is your current FC-SW storage area network (SAN) network? How many current switches do you have? What is the type and size of each switch? A few other things to consider are interswitch links (ISL), switch configurations, port speeds, as well as type and number of servers and storage devices attached.
While in theory it is more than possible to internetwork switches from different vendors, including Brocade, Cisco, Emulex and QLogic, that operate in open or interoperability mode, you will find in practice that depending upon how your current Fibre Channel and switches are configured, interoperability without introducing a SAN router may present some challenges. Talk with your solution provider or vendors where you obtained your switches, storage, servers and adapters to verify what exactly they will service and support, given your specific environment and application needs.
This was first published in July 2007