Virtual SAN product specifications

Buying Guide

Virtual SAN product specifications

Storage administrators must frequently overcome serious issues with scaling, managing, and troubleshooting large or multiple SANs. Using virtual SAN technology, a large physical SAN can be partitioned into multiple smaller logical SANs, which can be managed and operated independently.

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Conversely, virtual SAN technology can also be used to combine multiple physical SANs into a single ubiquitous SAN to improve utilization. Virtualization in the SAN fabric can improve manageability, maintain security, improve utilization, simplify troubleshooting and ease disruptions during upgrades or changes. The product snapshots in this chapter highlight key specifications for a cross-section of popular virtual SAN platforms -- typically in the form of intelligent switches. The following products were selected based on input from industry analysts and editors, and specifications are current as of November 2006.

The following specifications have been provided by vendors and are periodically updated. Vendors are welcome to submit their updates and new product specifications to

Go to the first product snapshot, or select the desired product below:

  • Brocade Communications Systems Inc.; Silkworm MPR AP7420
  • Cisco Systems Inc.; MDS 9000 Family of Multilayer Directors and Switches
  • McData Corp.; Intrepid i10K Xtreme Director

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    Product Snapshot #1

    Product: Brocade; Silkworm Multiprotocol Router AP7420

    Product specifications are pending, and should be available shortly.

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    Product Snapshot #2

    Product: Cisco Systems Inc.; MDS 9000 Family of Multilayer Directors and Switches

    Maximum VSANs: 256 VSANs; 8K zones across all VSANs
    Fabric Services: All the services listed in GS3/GS4 standards (zone server/Name server/ Fabric Config server/ FDMI etc)
    Fabric Spanning: Take each VSAN as a fabric, then use IVR (Inter-VSAN routing) for zones to span fabrics.
    VSAN Traffic Management: We can prioritize traffic based on VSANs
    Conflict Resolution: Zoning doesn't address conflict resolution. Name server addresses it. By default, last registration wins (ie if 2 FC-IDs are registered for the same pwwn, the last one stays). The default can be changed by a knob to reject duplicate registration.
    Management Software: SNMP V3 / CIM
    Implementation: All of the family of Cisco MDS 9000 switches and Directors are shipped with VSAN capability. VSANs are implemented in many ways, depending on the needs of the customer. VSANs can be used to separate operating systems, applications, or departments, while enabling the VSANs to share common resources. VSANs are also very useful for SAN extension over distance.
    Reporting and Logging: Accounting log on a per VSAN basis. syslog is on per VSAN basis.
    VSAN Security: VSAN-based roles (Other security features such as FCSP etc., are at a physical level, not VSAN level)
    Connectivity: 1,2, and 4 Gigabits-per-second FC ports
    VSAN Performance: It is same as linecard or switch throughput.
    Protocol Support: FCP and FICON
    Interoperability: Brocade and McData:
    Vendor Comment: Cisco pioneered VSANs, inventing this capability and shipping it with its first SAN switches three years ago. Cisco also offers Inter-VSAN Routing (IVR), which allows routing between VSANs, enabling customers to share resources across VSANs, and enables resilient SAN extension over distance.
    Availability: Currently available
    Base Cost: All of the family of Cisco MDS 9000 switches and Directors are shipped with VSAN capability as part of the base price of the switch.
    Detailed Specs:
    Vendor URL:

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    Product Snapshot #3

    Product: McData Corp.; Intrepid i10K Xtreme Director

    Maximum Capacity: A single storage domain can manage 1 PB of storage. Multiple storage domains can be deployed. The current supported number of storage domains is 10.
    Largest Virtual Volume: 2 TB
    Maximum Disks: A single ASM can support 15,000 physical storage LUNs. Multiple ASM can be deployed in a single storage domain and multiple storage domains can be deployed in a data center.
    Maximum Virtual Volumes: 1,000 per storage domain. Multiple storage domains can be deployed.
    Virtualization Software: The McDATA Virtualizer includes storage management software from StoreAge integrated into the solution. The McDATA ASM is also being integrated with EMC's InVista solution.
    Maximum Throughput: Each ASM in a storage domain can deliver 16 GB/sec of bandwidth. Multiple ASM can be deployed per storage domain.
    Maximum Transactions: Each ASM can deliver up to 2 million virtual IOPS or 1 million physical IOPS.
    Security Features: The ASM supports extensive fabric security features as it uses McDATA EOS firmware.
    Provisioning Support: Virtual volumes maybe expanded with storage extents from storage pools after they are created.
    Management Software: McDATA EFCM Basic, SNMP, OSMS.
    Implementation: A Virtualizer module consists of an Application Services Module (ASM), a Control Path Appliance (CPA) and a Storage Virtualization Module (SVM). The ASM provides 24 fibre channel switch ports that can connect to an existing fibre channel fabric (via ISL connections) or to physical devices (application host HBAs and storage ports). The CPA and SVM also connect to switches in a fabric (for convenience, they can connect to switch ports on the ASM). Deploying (2) Virtualizer modules provides and HA configuration. The two modules are managed within a single storage domain by the (2) SVM. These SVM form a 2-node active/active cluster. All storage applications (storage pools, virtual volumes, Point-in-Tim (PiT) snapshots with Views, Copy, Migrate and Mirror) run on the SVM cluster. End users manage the virtualized storage using the management GUI of the SVM. Existing application hosts and storage can be incrementally converted to the Virtualizer. That is, migration of storage to Virtualizer management can be done on a per LUN or per storage port basis. All applications running on a physical host using virtualized storage are migrated at one time.
    Snapshot Support: Yes; Multiple PiT snapshots can be made. A PiT snapshot can be made of a previous PiT snapshot. Any PiT snapshot can have a View created. A View establishes an independent virtual volume which can be used by another physical host for read/write access to the snapshot. The data on the original virtual volume and all PiT snapshots is not modified when a host uses a View.
    Reporting and Logging: The SVM provides access to numerous logs and reports from the SVM, ASM and CPA components.
    Connectivity: A Virtualizer module includes an ASM which is a 24 port fibre channel switch. In addition, an SVM also contains a Gigabit Ethernet port which can be used to copy PiT snapshots from one storage domain to another.
    Vendor Comment: McDATA's Virtualizer greatly increases the utilization of costly storage resources while providing the most scalable solution on the market today. It reduces data management time while supporting tiered storage strategies, technology refreshes, and storage optimization.
    Availability: Limited availability; general availability in 2007
    Base Cost: A unit with 10TB's, High Availability, Enterprise Data Protection and Management, and Enterprise IOP's is list price of approximately $260,000. This does not include installation (mandatory) or support.
    Detailed Specs:
    Vendor URL:

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    This was first published in November 2006