The data center landscape has changed dramatically in several dimensions. Server virtualization is almost a defacto standard with a big increase in VM density. And there is a move towards world of many clouds.  Then there is the massive data growth. Some studies show that data is doubling in every 2 years while there is an increased adoption of solid-state drives (SSD).   All of these megatrends demand new solutions in the SAN market.  To meet these needs, Cisco’s introducing the next generation Storage Network innovations with the new MDS 9710 Multilayer Director and new MDS 9250i Multiservice Switch.  These new multi-protocol, services-rich MDS innovations redefine storage networking with superior performance, reliability and flexibility!

We are, once again, demonstrating Cisco’s extraordinary capability to bring to market innovations that meet our customer needs today and tomorrow.  

For example, with the new MDS solutions, we are announcing 16 Gigabit Fibre Channel (FC) and 10 Gigabit Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) support. But guess what? This is just couple of the many innovations we are introducing.  In other words, we bring 16 Gigabit FC and beyond to our customers:



We design our solutions with future requirements in mind. We want to create long term value for our customers and investment protection moving forward.

The switching fabric in the MDS 9710 is one example of this design philosophy. The MDS 9710 chassis can accommodate up to six fabric cards delivering:

  • 1.536 Tbps per slot for Fibre Channel   – 24 Tbps per chassis capacity
  • Only 3 fabric cards are required to support full 16G line rate capacity
  • Supports up to 384 Line Rate 16G FC or 10G FCoE ports
  • So there is room for growth for higher throughput in the future …without forklift upgrades

This is more than three times the bandwidth of any Director in the market today – providing our customers with a superior investment protection for any future needs!

While we provide the performance, we also enable our customers to preserve their existing IT operations and what they already know. In other words, we provide consistent operations and easy migration with NX-OS and DCNM tools, the single Operating System and Management across MDS and Nexus portfolios.



That brings us to reliability. In this environment, downtime is simply not acceptable especially given the business cost of it.  If you can’t write to a storage array, then where do you go from there?

With MDS, we have a proven heritage of 8+ years of non-stop operations in our customers’ mission-critical production environments. This zero-downtime is even during Software upgrades. We are building on MDS nonstop operations heritage and taking it to the next level with our new MDS solutions.

For the MDS 9710, we used a combination of redundant components and a fault tolerant design to achieve the level of reliability we know our customers demand.

Take the switching fabric…

  • 3 fabrics needed for a fully loaded chassis
  • Add a fourth fabric, then you get… N+1 redundancy… no loss of bandwidth even if a fabric fails!
  • Unlike other vendor where their Director loses 1/2 the bandwidth if a fabric fails!

We’ve taken a similar approach with power supplies…

  • 3 power supplies needed for a fully loaded chassis today…
  • Add a 4th power supply for N+1 redundancy…
  • Two sets of 3 provides N:N grid redundancy
  • Similar approach with the fans, redundant supervisors…

Cisco MDS customers have come to expect In-Service Software Upgrades (ISSU). This allows software updates and upgrades to be applied to a fully operational platform with no interruption in service. That feature continues to be available on the new MDS platforms.

While both the MDS 9710 and MDS 9250i bring the most efficient airflow of front-to-back, we’ve also reduced failure domains. Features implemented in hardware and in ASICS include distributing port channels across line cards, checking for corrupted frames at ingress as well as egress, and managing buffers in hardware.  All of these innovations protect the SAN and end devices from negatively impacting performance, helping ensure that line rate consistently remains line rate.


As a key component of Unified Data Center, these MDS innovations provide unmatched flexibility with its multi-protocol solutions supporting Fibre Channel, FICON, Fibre Channel over Ethernet, Fibre Channel over IP, and iSCSI.

Take the other’s offerings in the market – It takes several products put together to offer multiprotocol. Either they have FC, but no FCoE. Or they have both FC and FCoE, but greatly oversubscribed bandwidth.  

Unlike disparate solutions… our MDS 9710 supports both FC and FCoE. Cisco MDS is all about allowing customers to preserve their investments in Fibre Channel storage and in addition providing an option to FCoE. It’s about FLEXIBILITY. Customers have freedom of choice.  This enables consolidation of LAN and SAN into a single high performance network over lossless Ethernet if they choose to go that route.  

We’ve recently achieved a number of “firsts” for FCoE on the Nexus and UCS front as well:

  • Industry-first 40G FCoE with Nexus 6004, announced last January
  • First to prove multihop FCoE compatibility across 10GBaseT – standard Cat6a copper wire – with UCS, Nexus 5000, and Nexus 2000


We are also introducing MDS 9250i Multiservice Switch with:

  • Up to 40 ports of 16 Gig Fibre Channel (FC) or FICON
  • 8 ports of 10 Gig FCoE
  • 2 ports of 1/10 Gig Ethernet for FCIP for SAN extensions or iSCSI
  • All ports at line rate

On top of these it will consolidate storage services into a single platform such as:

  • SAN extension (FCIP) – connectivity between data centers for Business Continuity Disaster Recovery
  • IO Accelerator (IOA) to accelerate tape backup and disk replication
  • Data Mobility Manager (DMM) to migrate data between heterogeneous arrays

It will also eliminate service device sprawl as it can be used as a single storage services platform across MDS and Nexus. And guess what? Once again competition requires several boxes to deliver what our MDS 9250i can do.


These new MDS innovations redefine storage networking with superior performance, reliability and flexibility.  With this launch….Cisco is raising the bar for storage networks! Also please don’t forget that we formed strong industry partnerships with EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, NetApp etc. in order to provide complete solutions to our customers.   

..One of our key business advantages is – our unified approach to the data center –which storage networking is an integral part of… In other words, the Cisco Unified Data center is an architectural approach combining compute, storage, network and management… across physical, virtual, and cloud environments… resulting in increased budget efficiency… more agile business responsiveness, and simplified operations.… more than just a collection of products compared to other vendors… not only in LAN, but also in SAN.

Please join our panel of experts in an online event I will be hosting as we discuss how new storage networking solutions from Cisco address new requirements for the SAN while establishing new benchmarks for performance, reliability, and architectural flexibility. 

Register here



Berna Devrim

Former Senior Manager of Marketing

No Longer at Cisco