SAN Switch Configuration Made Easy

Well, I’m still on the same project cutting though the jungle of new and mysterious technologies. Today, I find myself face to face with a HP StorageWorks 4/16 Brocade SAN switch. This switch is a Storage Area Network switch with 16 4Gb fibre channel ports.

I’ve not worked with SAN switches before, so when I set this up the first time, I used the defaults from the “Easy” Set-up. Little did I know it wasn’t easy.

But first some background on SAN switches. They work like Ethernet switches directing data, but use different terms for familiar concepts. The switches have a WWN – World Wide Number, A MAC address for the switch. (In fact the last digits of the WWN was the same as the MAC for the Ethernet management port). The server’s fibre ports have a WWPN – World Wide Port Number. It’s like a MAC address for the fibre channel port. The SAN uses Zones, which are just like VLANs in that they isolate segments of traffic and devices must be in the same Zone to communicate.

Thus my problem. I configured the default, ‘typical’ settings and the switch set each port in it’s own zone. Therefore, the servers could not see the storage array (NetApp Filer). After the client’s expert looked at the Filer, Servers and Switch configurations and couldn’t figure out why it was not working , I started doing research and found out about the zone issue. I guess they default to the most secure configuration when you don’t know to change things. 😦

To correct the ‘every port a zone’ issue is easy, once you know the why and how. First bring up the web interface for the switch and go to Zone Admin. Near the top of that page is a button to “Clear Config”. Click it and clear the Zone configuration. Then click the tab for Zones and create a new zone. At this point the window on the right shows all of your Ports and WWPNs and the left is empty. Select all of your ports and WWPNs and click “Add >>”. Now all of your ports and devices are in the same zone and they can all share data. If you need to segment your SAN network, then create multiple zones and ‘Add’ accordingly.

Once you’re done adding the ports and devices, click Save Config to save your configuration.

Ta Da! You now have a working SAN Switch!

I had 3 techs waiting for this to be fixed, so I was a hero. Network Jones saves the day!


BTW – I’m still working on the Juniper config posting. I hope to have it up this weekend.

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