The Cisco® MDS 9148 Multilayer Fabric Switch (Figure 1) is a high-performance, flexible, cost-effective platform with the industry’s highest port density and lowest power consumption available in a compact one rack-unit (1RU) chassis form factor. It provides 48 line-rate 8-Gbps ports for storage networking deployments in small, medium-sized, and large enterprise environments. The Cisco MDS 9148, based on a purpose-built “switch-on-a-chip” application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC), offers outstanding value by providing high-availability, security, and ease of use at a cost-effective price. With the flexibility to expand from 16 to 48 ports in 8-port increments, the Cisco MDS 9148 offers the densities required to scale from an entry-level departmental switch to top-of-the-rack switch to edge switch connectivity into enterprise core SANs. The Cisco MDS 9148 delivers a nonblocking architecture, with all 48 1/2/4/8-Gbps ports operating at line rate concurrently.
The Cisco MDS 9148 supports Zero-Touch installation as well as the Cisco Device Manager Quick Configuration Wizard, which allow it to be deployed quickly and easily in networks of any size. Powered by Cisco MDS 9000 NX‑OS Software, it includes advanced storage networking features and functions and is compatible with Cisco MDS 9500 Series Multilayer Directors and Cisco MDS 9200 and other 9100 Series Multilayer Fabric Switches, providing transparent, end-to-end service delivery in core-edge deployments.
Cisco MDS 9148 Multilayer Fabric Switch
● High-performance with exceptional flexibility: The Cisco MDS 9148 offers up to 48 autosensing Fibre Channel ports capable of speeds of 1, 2, 4, and 8 Gbps in a compact 1RU form-factor chassis with 8 Gbps of dedicated bandwidth for each port and an aggregate platform bandwidth of 768 Gbps. The Cisco MDS 9148 comes with three preconfigured models for 16, 32, or 48 ports. The 16- and 32-port models can be upgraded onsite to enable additional ports by adding one or more 8-port Cisco MDS 9148 On-Demand Port Activation licenses.
● Intelligent storage networking services at a cost-effective price: The Cisco MDS 9148, powered by Cisco MDS 9000 NX-OS Software, offers intelligent storage networking capabilities such as virtual SANs (VSANs), Inter-VSAN Routing (IVR), link aggregation using PortChannels, quality of service (QoS), and security. These features make it easy to design, deploy, provision, and manage the Cisco MDS 9148 either as a standalone departmental SAN switch or as a top-of-the-rack switch or an edge switch in an enterprise core-edge SAN.
● Smart Zoning: When the Smart Zoning feature is enabled, Cisco MDS 9000 Family fabrics provision the hardware access control entries specified by the zone set more efficiently, avoiding the superfluous entries that would allow servers (initiators) to talk to other servers, or allow storage devices (targets) to talk to other storage devices. This feature makes larger zones with multiple initiators and multiple targets feasible without excessive consumption of hardware resources. Thus, smart zones can correspond to applications, application clusters, hypervisor clusters, or other data center entities, saving the time that administrators previously spent creating many small zones, and enabling the automation of zoning tasks.
● Simplified scalable deployment of virtual machine-aware SANs: In a virtual machine environment in which many host operating systems or applications are running on a physical host, the Cisco MDS 9148 uses N‑Port ID Virtualization (NPIV) technology to provide independent management for each virtual machine. Furthermore, the Cisco MDS 9148 provides Cisco N-Port Virtualization (NPV) and fabric-port (F-port) trunking and channeling features to enable SANs to be scaled without reaching Fibre Channel domain ID limits. The Cisco FlexAttach feature enables transparent server deployment and movement without SAN reconfiguration.
● High-availability platform for mission-critical deployments: The Cisco MDS 9148 is designed for environments in which downtime is unacceptable. It offers nondisruptive software upgrades, dual redundant hot-swappable power supplies (with integrated fans), dual redundant hot-swappable fan trays, VSANs for fault isolation, Inter-VSAN Routing (IVR) for sharing resources across VSANs, PortChannels for Inter-Switch Link (ISL) resiliency, and F-port trunking for resiliency on uplinks from a Cisco MDS 9148 operating in NPV mode.
● Comprehensive security framework: The Cisco MDS 9148 supports as standard role-based access control (RBAC) using RADIUS or TACACS+ authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA) functions, VSAN fabric isolation, intelligent packet inspection at the port level, Fibre Channel Security Protocol (FC-SP) host‑to-switch and switch-to-switch authentication, Secure FTP (SFTP), Secure Shell Version 2 (SSHv2) and Simple Network Management Protocol Version 3 (SNMPv3) implementing Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), control-plane security, hardware-enforced zoning, broadcast zones, and management access. Although rarely needed in most switch fabric installations, an extensive set of even more innovative and powerful security features and functions is available with the optional Cisco MDS 9000 Family Enterprise Package License.
● Simplified storage management: The Cisco MDS 9148 supports SAN plug-and-play capabilities, including new Zero-Touch Installation deployment and provisioning, and offers built-in storage network management, with all features available through a command-line interface (CLI) or the Cisco Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) for SAN Essentials Edition (formerly Cisco Fabric Manager), a centralized management tool with task-based wizards that simplifies management of a standalone switch or multiple switches and fabrics.
● Sophisticated diagnostics: Industry-leading intelligent diagnostics such as Fibre Channel ping, Fibre Channel traceroute, Switched Port Analyzer (SPAN), Cisco Fabric Analyzer, and an integrated Call Home capability to enhance reliability, facilitate faster problem resolution, and reduce service costs.
● Reduced total cost of ownership (TCO): Common platform architecture and the use of Cisco MDS 9000 NX‑OS Software intelligent storage networking services across all Cisco MDS 9000 Family switches reduce ongoing operating expenses by providing a consistent set of provisioning, management, and diagnostic capabilities.
Main Features and Benefits
Exceptional Flexibility for High-Performance SANs
The Cisco MDS 9148 offers up to 48 autosensing Fibre Channel ports capable of speeds of 8, 4, 2, and 1 Gbps in a compact 1RU form-factor chassis. With 8 Gbps of dedicated bandwidth for each port and aggregate platform bandwidth of 768 Gbps, the Cisco MDS 9148 is designed to meet the performance and scalability requirements of the most demanding environments.
The flexibility of the Cisco MDS 9148 is provided by the Cisco MDS 9148 On-Demand Port Activation license, which allows the addition of eight 8-Gbps ports. Customers have the option of purchasing preconfigured models of 16, 32, or 48 ports and upgrading the 16- and 32-port models onsite all the way to 48 ports by adding these licenses. With advanced storage networking capabilities built into the platform, the Cisco MDS 9148 is an ideal choice either as a standalone departmental SAN switch or as a top-of-the-rack switch or an edge switch in an enterprise core-edge SAN.
The Cisco MDS 9148 supports hot-swappable autosensing Small Form-Factor Pluggable (SFP) and Enhanced SFP (SFP+) optics with interfaces for 8, 4, 2, and 1 Gbps. Individual ports can be configured with either short- or long-wavelength optics for connectivity up to 860 meters (m) and 31 kilometers (km), respectively.
VSANs for Virtualization, Segmentation, and Isolation
VSAN, an industry standard for fabric virtualization capabilities, enables more efficient storage network use by creating hardware-based isolated environments within a single physical SAN fabric or switch. Up to 32 VSANs are supported per switch. Each VSAN can be zoned as a typical SAN and maintains its own fabric services and management domains for added scalability and resilience. VSANs allow the cost of SAN infrastructure to be shared among more users while helping ensure segregation of traffic and retaining independent control of configuration on a VSAN-by-VSAN basis.
Integrated VSAN Routing (IVR) for Highly Available, Scalable SANs
To deploy efficient, cost-effective, consolidated storage networks, the Cisco MDS 9148 supports IVR functionality. IVR allows selective transfer of data traffic between specific initiators and targets on different VSANs while maintaining isolation of control traffic within each VSAN, thereby maintaining fabric stability and availability. Integrated IVR lowers TCO by eliminating the need for external routing appliances, greatly increasing routing scalability while delivering line-rate performance, simplifying management, and eliminating the challenges associated with maintaining separate systems.
Advanced Traffic Management for Resilient SANs
Advanced traffic management capabilities integrated into the Cisco MDS 9148 simplify deployment and optimization of core-edge fabrics.
● Virtual output queuing helps ensure line-rate performance on each port, independent of traffic pattern, by eliminating head-of-line blocking.
● Each port group consisting of 4 ports has a pool of 128 buffer credits, with a default of 32 buffer credits per port. When extended distances are required, up to 125 buffer credits can be allocated to a single port within the port group. This extensibility is available without additional licensing.
● PortChannels allow users to aggregate up to 16 physical Inter-Switch Links (ISLs) into a single logical bundle, providing load-balancing bandwidth use across all links. The bundle can consist of any port from the switch, helping ensure that the bundle remains active even in the event of a port group failure.
● Fabric Shortest Path First (FSPF)-based multipathing provides the intelligence to load balance across up to 16 equal-cost paths and, in the event of a switch failure, dynamically reroute traffic.
● QoS can be used to manage bandwidth and control latency, to prioritize critical traffic.
● Comprehensive port and flow statistics facilitate sophisticated performance analysis and service-level agreement (SLA) accounting.
Simplified Scalable Deployment of Virtual Machine-Aware SANs
Cisco MDS 9148 provides the same consistent, policy-based SAN capabilities to individual virtual machines as those available to physical servers. With NPIV, a standard Fibre Channel protocol feature, individual virtual machines assume a full identity on the SAN so that Fibre Channel services such as zoning, QoS, performance monitoring, and security can be provided to each virtual machine.
Given that the number of Fibre Channel domain IDs in a Fibre Channel SAN environment is limited, larger core-edge enterprise SAN environments using the Cisco MDS 9148 as a top-of-the-rack switch or as an edge switch can be deployed by enabling the Cisco NPV feature on the edge Cisco MDS 9148 so that no Fibre Channel domain IDs are used by that switch. NPV aggregates locally connected hosts into one or more uplinks to core switches in a pass-through manner without using a Fibre Channel domain ID. The F-port trunking feature enables multiple VSANs to be transported on the uplink from a Cisco MDS 9148 operating in NPV mode to the core switch.
The Cisco FlexAttach feature gives Cisco MDS 9148 customers the flexibility to add, move, or replace servers easily without the need to reconfigure SAN switches or storage arrays. It provides this flexibility by virtualizing the SAN identity of a server, which enables a server to retain its SAN identity even if the server is moved or replaced.
The Cisco MDS 9148 is supported as an option by the Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) coalition, a collaboration by Cisco, EMC, and VMware, which provides the Vblock™ Infrastructure Packages framework for integrated virtualization solutions.
High-Availability Platform for Mission-Critical Environments
The Cisco MDS 9148 is designed for mission-critical availability. With nondisruptive software upgrades, hot-swappable redundant fans and power supplies, and the unique capability to automatically restart failed processes, the platform defines a new standard for fabric switch availability.
High availability is implemented at the fabric level through the industry’s most robust and highest-performance ISLs. The standard PortChannel feature allows users to aggregate up to 16 physical ports into one logical bundle. The bundle can sustain the failure of any physical link without causing a reset. Additionally, FSPF multipathing provides the intelligence to load-balance across up to 16 equal-cost paths and, if a switch fails, to dynamically reroute traffic.
The F-port channeling feature enables up to 16 physical uplinks between a Cisco MDS 9148 operating in NPV mode and the core switch to be bundled into a PortChannel. The Cisco MDS 9148 offers outstanding fabric switch availability, reducing TCO.
Recognizing the need for unassailable business security, the Cisco MDS 9148 provides a comprehensive framework to protect highly sensitive data crossing today’s enterprise networks. Included as standard with every Cisco MDS 9148 are features such as VSAN isolation, role-based access control (RBAC), secure FTP (SFTP), intelligent packet inspection at the port level, hardware zoning using access control lists (ACLs), extended broadcast zoning, secure shell (SSH), control-plane security, simple network management protocol (SNMP), and FC-SP switch-to-switch plus host-to-switch access authentication. These features, in conjunction with the rarely needed, but even more innovative and powerful features in the optional Cisco MDS 9000 Family Enterprise Package License, will make the Cisco MDS 9148 the most secure platform in its class.
The Cisco MDS 9148 provides four principal modes of management: the Cisco MDS 9000 Family CLI, the Quick Configuration Wizard, the Cisco DCNM, and integration with third-party storage management tools.
● Consistent, logical CLI: Adhering to the syntax of the widely known Cisco IOS® Software CLI, the Cisco MDS 9000 Family CLI is easy to learn and delivers broad management capabilities. The Cisco MDS 9000 Family CLI is an extremely efficient and direct interface designed to provide optimal capabilities to administrators in enterprise environments.
● Zero-Touch Installation: The Zero-Touch Installation feature provides easy, plug-and-play deployment and provisioning capabilities without the need for serial cable console access and is enabled through new Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) client support that stores a common default Cisco MDS 9148 switch configuration. Zero-Touch Installation automatically assigns an IP address (through DHCP) or provides a default address if there is no DHCP server. Zero-Touch Installation also provides a default user password for the administrator user and automatically launches the Quick Configuration Wizard.
● Quick Configuration Wizard: The Quick Configuration Wizard helps eliminate management complexity and creates a readily available SAN environment for small- and medium-sized-business (SMB) applications. The wizard allows server access to storage to be set up quickly and easily in a single step using an intuitive GUI.
● Cisco DCNM: Cisco DCNM can be licensed for management of a combination of SAN and LAN environments. Cisco DCNM streamlines the provisioning of the unified fabric and proactively monitors the LAN and SAN components. Cisco DCNM for SAN Essentials Edition (formerly Cisco Fabric Manager), which comes standard with the Cisco MDS 9148, is an easy-to-use application that simplifies management across multiple switches and converged SAN fabrics. Focused on supporting efficient operations and management of virtual machine-aware fabrics, Cisco DCNM for SAN Essentials Edition provides a robust framework and comprehensive feature set that meets the routing, switching, and storage administration needs of present and future virtualized data centers. The optional Cisco DCNM for SAN Advanced Edition (formerly Cisco Fabric Manager Server) extends the standard Cisco DCNM for SAN Essentials Edition software by providing server federation, historical performance monitoring for network traffic hotspot analysis, centralized management services, and advanced application integration. All standard Cisco DCNM for SAN Essentials Edition features and functions are fully integrated with the optional Cisco DCNM for SAN Advanced Edition capabilities.
● Application Programming Interfaces (APIs): The Cisco MDS 9148 provides an extensive set of APIs for integration with third-party and user-developed management tools. The APIs are based on industry-standard protocols, including SNMP and the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S).
Advanced Diagnostics and Troubleshooting Tools
Management of storage networks requires proactive diagnostics, tools to verify connectivity and route latency, and mechanisms for capturing and analyzing traffic. The Cisco MDS 9148 integrates the industry’s most advanced analysis and debugging tools. Power-on self-test (POST) and online diagnostics provide proactive health monitoring. The Cisco MDS 9148 provides the integrated hardware functions required to implement diagnostic capabilities such as Fibre Channel traceroute to detail the exact path and timing of flows, and SPAN to intelligently capture network traffic. After traffic has been captured, it can be analyzed with the Cisco Fabric Analyzer, an embedded Fibre Channel analyzer. With the Cisco MDS 9148, Cisco delivers a comprehensive tool set for troubleshooting and analysis of an organization’s storage network