Cisco MDS License

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  • Last updated on: 06 Jan 2020

Multilayer Director Switch (MDS)

Storage costs are growing faster than server costs. Businesses need more efficient, cost-effective, and responsive storage area networks (SANs), without increasing overall power consumption. Also, in today’s environments that must comply with government regulations for data recovery, 24-hour access to critical information is imperative.

Cisco SANs provide:

  • Multiprotocol storage networking: Achieve lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and greater agility by integrating disparate protocols such as FC, FICON, FCoE, iSCSI, and FCIP
  • Unified OS and management tools: Reduce operating expenses and provide operational simplicity, seamless interoperability, and consistent features
  • Enterprise-class storage connectivity: Support significantly higher virtualized workloads, to increase availability, scalability, and performance
  • Services-oriented SANs: Extend any network service to any device, regardless of protocol, speed, vendor, or location


Cisco MDS 9000: Flexible, Agile, Cost-Effective

With Cisco MDS 9000 Switches, you can optimize physical resources, reduce operating costs such as energy use, and decrease capital expenditures to achieve lower TCO.

With industry-leading features and advanced capabilities, Cisco MDS 9000 Switches continue to be the leading platform for hosting intelligent multilayer services that fill business needs such as:

  • SAN consolidation
  • Storage encryption
  • Disaster recovery
  • Data mobility
  • SAN security
  • Replication

The MDS 9000 product family also facilitates server storage and fabric virtualization to provide an end-to-end virtualization solution for the data center.

SANs are central to the Cisco Data Center Business Advantage architecture. They provide a networking platform that helps IT departments achieve lower total cost of ownership, enhanced resiliency, and greater agility.


Switching Performance Fairness

Since their introduction in 2002, Cisco MDS 9000 family switches have been built on central switching fabrics to ensure fair treatment of all storage traffic. This treatment aids consistent performance , regardless of whether traffic needs to be switched within a single line card or from one card to another.

Traffic fairness, combined with the extreme high availability of the underlying MDS 9000 platform, provides the agility required by modern virtualized data centers and cloud computing. These characteristics make the MDS 9000 especially well suited for IBM System z mainframe FICON environments.

Why Choose the MDS 9000?


Common LAN-SAN Operating System and Graphical User Interface (GUI)

The NX-OS operating system underlies both the MDS 9000 family and the entire Nexus family of data center Ethernet switches, from the Nexus 1000V switch embedded in the VMware vSphere hypervisor up through the largest 18-slot Nexus 7000 chassis.

The Cisco NX-OS platform is based on the proven MDS 9000 SAN-OS operating system, and takes advantage of the vast Cisco store of Ethernet expertise and innovation. It provides the ideal platform for SAN, LAN, and the smooth transformation of separate, installed networks into a unified fabric.


Virtual SANs (VSANs)

The VLAN technology so indispensable in the Ethernet environment to Fibre Channel, was adapted to create VSANs.

VSANs allow separate SAN islands to be consolidated into one economical SAN infrastructure. Each VSAN environment can then enjoy hardware-enforced traffic isolation, management isolation, fault isolation, and differentiated Quality of Service (QoS) levels. Cisco VSAN technology forms the basis for the ANSI T11 Fibre Channel standard for virtual fabrics.


Services-Oriented SANs

A number of advanced storage management functions can be deployed as applications on service engines integrated into MDS 9000 platforms. Service engines are available as an intelligent fabric switch, combined with Fibre Channel ports in a Multi-Service Module, or in a four-engine, high-performance Storage Services Node.

These service engines can deliver a broad range of solutions, including data migration, data encryption, and I/O acceleration over MANs and WANs. They also support basic SAN Extension over IP for Fibre Channel and FICON.

In general, Services Oriented SAN solutions can be deployed anywhere in the fabric without requiring cabling or topology changes. Simple administrative configuration options cause traffic to be automatically routed through the service engine (or service engine cluster, for high availability) to provide the desired capability.


VM-Aware SANs

A combination of industry-standard features and Cisco innovation allows virtual machines to enjoy many of the same features as physical hosts:

  • Separate zoning through access control
  • Performance monitoring
  • Individual assignment of Quality of Service (QoS)


High-Speed Business Continuity

Enhance your data protection using the new Cisco MDS Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) SAN extension module.

Grow and Consolidate

Grow, consolidate, converge, and simplify operations in your small business, enterprise, and cloud. Cisco offers the industry’s highest port-density, 16-Gigabit SAN director, converged storage offerings, and data centers based on open standards with Representational State Transfer (REST) APIs for programmability.

Three Times the Performance

The MDS 9700 Directors delivers more than three times the bandwidth of other industry directors. Use it to optimize your storage connectivity for mission-critical applications, massive amounts of data, solid-state drives, and cloud-based environments. The architecture reduces the number of managed switches for easy management, and REST API programmability provides for rapid provisioning.

Industry’s Most Reliable Storage Director

The MDS 9000 Series is capable of decades of nonstop operations. We’re taking that to the next level. The MDS 9700 Series Director includes N+1 fabric, fully redundant components, and fault-tolerant architectural design. (PDF – 1.1 MB)

Greater Flexibility with Multiprotocol Innovations

The Cisco MDS 9000 Family of products provides superb flexibility with multiprotocol innovations, unlike disparate solutions. A single, proven OS across your entire data center LAN and SAN, coupled with a single point of management, makes it easier to adopt new technologies and maintain consistent networking operation. (PDF – 271 KB)

All Storage Networking Products

Cisco MDS 9000 Series Switches have met and often exceeded the demanding requirements for storage area networks for more than a decade. They offer a combination of performance, non-stop operations, and multiprotocol flexibility.


Cisco MDS 9700 Series Multilayer Directors

A New Benchmark for Storage Networks

Gain more than three times the bandwidth than any currently available SAN director. MDS 9700 Series Switches deliver superior performance. They can adapt to accommodate future mission-critical applications, massive amounts of data, and cloud environments. A fault-tolerant design and multi-protocol flexibility support non-stop operations and freedom of choice.

Features and Capabilities

Cisco MDS 9700 Series Multilayer Directors address the stringent requirements of large, virtualized, data center storage environments. They provide uncompromised availability, scalability, flexibility, security, ease of management, and transparent integration of new technologies.

Cisco MDS 9700 Series Multilayer Directors offer:

  • Outstanding SAN performance
  • High availability with fully redundant components, including fabric cards, supervisors, and power supplies
  • Industry-leading scalability
  • Intelligent network features such as virtual SAN technology, ACLs, intelligent frame processing, and fabric-wide QoS
  • Multiprotocol support includes Fibre Channel, Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), and Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP)

Chassis Configuration

  • MDS 9718: 18-slot chassis with 16 line card slots and up to 16 power supplies
  • MDS 9710: 10-slot chassis with eight line card slots and up to eight power supplies
  • MDS 9706: 6-slot chassis with four line card slots and up to four power supplies
  • All offer two supervisor slots, six crossbar switching fabric slots, and three fan trays

Performance and Scalability

  • Up to 48-Tbps Fibre Channel switching bandwidth
  • 2/4/8-Gbps, 4/8/16-Gbps, or 10-Gbps line-rate autosensing Fibre Channel (optionally configurable)
  • 10/40-Gbps FCoE and 10/40-Gbps FCIP

Ports Per Chassis

Up to 768 2/4/8/10/16-Gbps Fibre Channel or 10-Gbps FCoE ports or 384 40-Gbps FCoE.

Ports Per Rack

Up to 1152 2/4/8-Gbps, 4/8/16-Gbps, or 10-Gbps Fibre Channel, or 10-Gbps FCoE ports



Cisco MDS 9500 Series Multilayer Directors

Scalability, Convergence, and Intelligence

Cisco MDS 9500 Series Multilayer Directors are high-performance, protocol-independent, director-class SAN switches. Cisco MDS Directors are designed to meet stringent requirements of enterprise data center storage environments.

Features and Capabilities

Cisco MDS 9500 Series Directors offer:

  • Multi-protocol architecture – Support for 1/2/4/8/10-Gbps and 10-Gbps Fibre Channel (FC), 10-Gbps Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), and 1/2/4/8 and 1/2/4/8/10-Gbps FICON
  • Scalability – 8.4-Tbps system bandwidth and up to 528 1/2/4/8–Gbps autosensing FC ports per chassis
  • Intelligent network services such as Virtual SAN technology, ACLs, intelligent frame processing, and fabric-wide QoS
  • Platform for smart storage services, including Cisco I/O Accelerator (IOA), Storage Media Encryption (SME), and Data Mobility Manager (DMM)

Chassis Configuration

  • Eleven line card slots; two supervisor slots, two crossbar switching fabric slots, fan trays, power supplies

Performance and Scalability

  • 8.4-Tbps internal switching bandwidth
  • 1/2/4/8-Gbps autosensing Fibre Channel port speeds supported; 10-Gbps fixed rate
  • 10-Gbps fixed rate FCoE port speeds supported
  • 1-Gbps fixed rate Ethernet port speeds supported

Ports Per Chassis

  • Up to 528 1/2/4/8-Gbps Fibre Channel ports
  • Up to 264 10-Gbps Fibre Channel ports
  • Up to 88 10-Gbps FCoE ports
  • Up to 176 1-Gbps Ethernet ports



Cisco MDS 9396S 16G Multilayer Fabric Switch

Versatile, Affordable, High Density Fabric Switch

The Cisco MDS 9396S 16G Multilayer Fabric Switch is the next generation of the highly reliable, flexible, and affordable Cisco MDS 9000 Family fabric switches. This powerful, compact, 2-rack-unit switch scales from 48 to 96 line-rate 16-Gbps Fibre Channel ports in 12 port increments. The Cisco MDS 9396S offers enterprise-class features at affordable price.


  • Flexibility for growth
  • Single switch solution for small SAN deployments
  • Easy deployment and management
  • Affordable switch with enterprise-class features


  • PowerOn Auto Provisioning and intelligent diagnostics
  • In-Service Software Upgrade and dual redundant hot-swappable power supplies for high availability
  • Role-based authentication, authorization, and accounting services to support regulatory requirements
  • High-performance interswitch links with multipath load balancing
  • Smart zoning and virtual output queuing
  • Hardware-based slow port detection and recovery

Performance and Port Configuration

  • Supports configurations of 48 60, 72, 84, or 96 active ports, with pay-as-you-grow, on-demand licensing
  • 2/4/8/10/16-Gbps auto-sensing with 16 Gbps of dedicated bandwidth per port
  • Up to 4095 buffer credits per group of 4 ports (500 per port default, 4095 maximum for a single port in the group)

Advanced Functions

  • Virtual SAN (VSAN)
  • Inter-VSAN Routing (IVR)
  • PortChannel with multipath load balancing
  • Flow-based and zone-based Quality of Service (QoS)



Cisco MDS 9200 Series Multiservice Switches

Improve Business Continuance

Cisco MDS 9200 Series Multiservice Switches improve business continuance by delivering state-of-the-art multiprotocol and distributed multiservice convergence. They offer high-performance SAN extension and disaster-recovery solutions, intelligent fabric services, and cost-effective multiprotocol connectivity for both open systems and mainframe environments.

Features and Capabilities

Cisco MDS 9250i Multiservice Fabric Switch

Cisco MDS 9250i Switches provide integrated multiprotocol support for high-performance Fiber Channel (FC), Fiber Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), and Fiber Channel over IP (FCIP) in a compact form factor.

Cisco MDS 9222i Multiservice Modular Switch

Cisco MDS 9222i Switches deliver cost-effective multiprotocol connectivity for Fibre Channel and FCIP in a semi-modular form factor.




Cisco MDS 9100 Series Multilayer Fabric Switches

SAN solution for small and midsize businesses

To meet your organization’s strategic business and application needs, you need innovative, affordable SAN solutions. They should be flexible, agile, highly available, highly secure, and easy to use. Cisco MDS 9100 Series Multilayer Fabric Switches meet these requirements, providing an economical and capable solution for commercial organizations.


Get cost-effective support for enterprise-level capabilities such as virtualization and security with reduced total cost of ownership.

Consolidation and virtualization

Virtualization features are optimized for virtual server environments.

Application performance

The MDS 9100 Series offers high reliability, availability, and performance.

Ease of use

MDS 9100 Series features simplify use, configuration, and management.


Cisco MDS 9000 NX-OS Software

A Single Operating System Across the Data Center

Cisco MDS 9000 NX-OS Software 6.2 supports enhanced Fibre Channel and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) connectivity, and new fabric services for Cisco MDS 9000 Family products. It offers greater scalability, superior reliability, and easier management on the MDS platforms.

Features and Capabilities

  • Support for 2,4,8,10, and 16-Gbps Fibre Channel and 10-Gbps FCoE
  • Multi-protocol support that delivers superior flexibility
  • A software architecture that supports high availability and reliability
  • Comprehensive network security features
  • Fabric applications that support a variety of storage services

See specifications below for additional details.


  • Supported protocols: Fibre Channel, FCoE, IBM Fibre Connection (FICON), iSCSI, and Fibre Channel over IP (FCI)
  • Architecture features: non-disruptive software upgrades, stateful process failover, and other features
  • Security features: support for access control, authorization, encryption, port security, and more
  • Storage services supported: virtualization, data protection, acceleration, migration, replication, and others

Cisco MDS License

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