Storage switches: Five tips in five minutes


Storage switches: Five tips in five minutes

What you will learn: readers frequently ask questions about switches. This article offers a collection of expert responses to recent reader questions.

According to, in a telecommunications

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network, a switch is a device that channels incoming data from any multiple input port to the specific output port that will take the data toward its intended destination. Basically, it's a technological traffic cop that keeps information traveling across the network from getting all smashed together.

Over the years, storage area networks (SAN) have typically employed Fibre Channel (FC) switches to form a fabric. SAN switching products are primarily FC-based, ranging in size from a couple of ports to hundreds. SAN switches support speeds of 1 Gbps, 2 Gbps, 4 Gbps and 10 Gbps. Today's SAN switches also offer intelligence that can support high-level capabilities, like storage virtualization, security and a variety of other tasks. Over the past few years, IP SANs have also increased in popularity. These SANs employ Ethernet-based switches supporting speeds from 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps, using copper and optical interfaces ranging in size from a couple of ports to hundreds of ports.

Switches are such an integral part of storage networking, its no surprise that over the years we have had a steady stream of switch-related questions in the Ask the Experts section of

Check out some recent expert responses to reader questions below.

  • Ports changing from fabric to loop mode
  • Storage expert Greg Schulz explains why a reader's ports are changing from fabric to loop mode.

  • Connecting an MSA 1500 to an EVA 4000
  • Storage expert Greg Schulz discusses how to connect an MSA 1500 to an EVA 4000.

  • Director vs. switch
  • Storage expert Greg Schulz outlines things to consider when choosing switches for a SAN.

  • Using dark fiber to connect sites
  • SAN expert Greg Schulz discusses single-mode and multimode fiber optic cabling.

  • Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop or switched disk?
  • Storage expert Greg Schulz offers advice to a reader considering buying high-end storage from two different vendors -- one uses Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop technology and one uses a switched-disk interface.

    This was first published in March 2007

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