SAN Switch or Director?

As your storage environment increases in complexity, fixed port SAN switches may no longer provide adequate speed or high enough port-count to handle multiple hosts, storage devices, and back-up systems. Enterprises that are currently experiencing rapid growth, or are forecasting added growth and complexity in the next 3 years should be prepared to investigate replacing SAN switches with fibre channel directors to manage their SAN fabric.

When to Trade Your Switch for a Director:

  1. Your speed is limited: SAN switches have limited performance, and can hold your SAN environment back from reaching its potential. Directors are designed to provide high-capacity, high-performance switching with greater bandwidth. For example, the Brocade DCX provides total bandwidth of up to 256 Gbps for each slot or blade. If your environment is faced with heavy I/O traffic, replacing your SAN switches with a SAN director can help you improve your speed and performance.
  2. You’d like to consolidate your SAN fabric: SAN Directors provide for centralized management by providing a greater number of ports consolidated into one unit. In addition to preventing unnecessary ISL hops, directors can provide software that consolidates your SAN fabric management. Software for SAN directors can provide a multitude of functions and options, including bottleneck detection, performance monitoring, quality of service (QoS), and advanced zoning. A director can help you simplify and improve the management of your SAN fabric.
  3. You’re spending too much money managing your SAN fabric: It’s possible to build large SAN fabrics with fixed-port SAN switches, but it can prove to be more costly and difficult than deploying a director switch. If your SAN fabric has more than a few dozen ports, the fabric can become too complex and difficult to manage.
  4. BONUS: Directors can provide the redundancy of an entire SAN fabric and save money by reducing costly downtime. Directors don’t need to go offline to replace failed ports, power supply cables, or fans, so they can reduce the cost of downtime. SAN Switches need to be taken offline to be replaced, while Directors can remain operational while the blades are replaced.

  5. You’re planning site-to-site replication: Directors offer several connectivity options that a single Switch cannot provide. Each Director chassis can house several different types of blades, including blades that connect two Directors over a WAN for long distance replication.
  6. You see growth on the horizon: FC Switches provide a limited or fixed number of ports, usually ranging between 8 and 80, and can severely limit your fabric growth potential. Alternatively, a Director provides you with higher port count, greater connectivity options, and prevent against single points of failure. SAN Directors contain blades, providing space and scalability for up to hundreds of ports in a single chassis. Brocade makes blades in 16-, 32-, and 48-port counts, providing the scalability you need to manage fabric growth. In addition to scalability, directors provide multiple connectivity options including FCoE blades, blades for storage encryption and blades for data replication.

Looking for more information about SAN switches and directors? Talk to a dedicated Reliant Storage Specialist today to get expert advice and discover budget-friendly solutions for your SAN storage environment. Our storage experts are skilled at helping you do more with less.