Organizations have an ever growing amount of data to manage and protect. The cost of data loss is just too high. Disaster recovery solutions are used to protect from unexpected catastrophic events, including power outages, civil emergencies, criminal or military attacks, and natural disasters. They are also used to protect from cyberattacks, often coupled with cyber recovery techniques. Disaster recovery has data protection at its foundation. For block storage deployments, Fibre Channel SAN extension solutions represent the typical approach to remote data replication. The need for higher transfer speeds comes from the desire to keep a low Recovery Point Objective despite a larger volume of data to replicate and variance on data compression rate. Hence organizations are looking for new technologies that can satisfy their new needs at a better cost and with ease of operation.

25G FCIP Technology

When distances go beyond 100 km, FCIP is the most appropriate technology for SAN extension. The sizing of WAN links depends on many factors, including applications, data compressability and budget. FCIP protocol runs on Ethernet ports and FCIP devices are capable to support multiple port speeds. If 1G was popular 15 years ago, 10G has dominated in most recent years. The higher 40G speed is also available but its adoption has faced some headwinds. The emerging speed for FCIP is definitely 25G.

According to a report from IDC on Datacenter Ethernet switch revenue by speed, in the period 2015-2024 it is clearly visible a downtrend for 1/10/40G ports and a rise for 25/100G ports. In 2022 alone, 25G ports revenue will exceed the same for 10G ports. It can also be noted that matching 100G ports with 4x breakout capabilities leads to ample availability of 25G connectivity.

Source: IDC’s Worldwide Network Infrastructure Qview, 2020 Q2 Release

A similar trend is present on routers, like Cisco NCS 540, so that 25G speed is being massively adopted within enterprise, public sector and service provider datacenters.

Cisco MDS 9220i to the rescue

To cope with those trends, a modern FCIP SAN extension device should have support for 25G speed. Possibly, this is the most noticeable indication that the product was designed to accommodate present and future requirements. Cisco MDS 9220i FCIP switch is the leading offering when it comes to addressing remote data replication needs. It enables customers to implement high-performance SAN extension solutions, cost-effective multiprotocol connectivity, and distributed intelligent fabric services for both open systems and mainframe environments (FICON qualification pending). Its 32G FC ports enable high-speed connectivity to the storage array replication ports. With a compact form factor of just 1RU and its set of advanced SAN extension capabilities, the Cisco MDS 9220i is an ideal solution for departmental and remote branch-office SANs as well as for large-scale Fibre Channel fabrics in conjunction with Cisco MDS 9700 Series Multilayer Directors.

Performance-wise, the MDS 9220i is quite impressive. Within a single RU, this switch can deliver up to 40Gbps of FCIP traffic over long distance links, leveraging its 40G port, or its 4x 10G ports or its 2x 25G ports. When enabled, data compression happens before transmission. The compression ratio is highly data dependent. Sometime you can get a 6:1 ratio, but in other situations you only achieve a 2:1 ratio. Assuming all of your data can achieve an average 4:1 compression ratio might just be too optimistic and unreal. To better accommodate poorly compressible data, having high speed ports on the FCIP switch is very important. The support of 25G FCIP on Cisco MDS 9220i with NX-OS 9.3(1) release is an industry first and an industry unique innovation.

Security is another noticeable trait of Cisco MDS 9220i, demonstrated by its intrinsic anticounterfeit and secure boot technologies and a rainbow of configurable security features. With recent firmware versions, the base model of this switch includes support for hardware-assisted AES256 encryption for FCIP traffic at no extra cost.

Advantages of 25G FCIP adoption

The adoption of 25G speed for FCIP traffic instead of alternatives brings some advantages:

  • For minimally compressible data, 10G FCIP ports might not be sufficient and introduce an artificial capping to replication speed
  • The new generation of routers with a compact form factor comes equipped with 25G ports. As a result, they can route more traffic without increasing the port count, reaching an affordable price point
  • Using 2x 25G ports instead of 4x 10G ports requires 50% less router ports and cables for the same traffic, while preserving link redundancy
  • Using 2x 25G ports instead of 2x 10G ports doubles throughput without using more router ports and cables
  • Deployment flexibility and different hop distances result from support of multiple transceiver options. These include the popular IEEE-compliant 25GBASE-SR and the 25GBASE-CSR SFP28 versions
  • Cisco is the market leader for switches and routers and has validated their compatibility with the 25G FCIP ports on MDS 9220i, including optics. This makes Cisco MDS 9220i a solution play rather than a point product.


Mid-size storage arrays typically connect to FCIP switches for their remote data replication needs. New trends in datacenter networking, and uncertainties on the data-dependent compression ratio, are clearly suggesting that 25G FCIP is the best approach to address those needs. So look no further: Cisco MDS 9220i is what you need for your high-performance and secure SAN extension projects.



To learn more, review the MDS 9220i datasheet.


Fausto Vaninetti

Technical Solutions Architect

EMEAR Specialists - Datacenter