Tag Archives: storage network

Storage FC HBA Transfer Size Tuning

HP just published an advisory describing how to tune some parameters for Emulex, Qlogic and Brocade Fibre Channel HBAs: c02518189. It sounds like these are new, but these changes have been around for at least 6 months in all three vendors’ HBAs.


“Emulex driver version 2.42.002 or later, along with OneCommand Manager version or later,”

Use HBAnywhere to change these.

Examples to tune the server or port level transfer size:

  • 128 kbytes, set the LimTransferSize = 2 and ExtTransferSize = 0 (default)
  • 512 kbytes, set the LimTransferSize = 0 (default) and ExtTransferSize = 0 (default)
  • 1 Mbytes, set the LimTransferSize = 0 (default) and ExtTransferSize = 1


This is part of the Qlogic SANSurfer utility.

  • c:\>qlfc -tsize /fc
  • c:\>qlfc -tsize /fc /set 128
  • c:\>qlfc -tsize /fc /set default


  • bcu drvconf –key bfa_max_xfer_len –val 64
  • bcu drvconf –key bfa_max_xfer_len –val 128

Brocade Certified Fabric Designer – BCFD – Exam

Just took the BCFD (brocade certified fabric designer) exam two days ago.

Some tips:

Bring some water and food.

Good exam, but I am really tired of exams and certifications for now!

Also, isn’t easy to confuse Brocade Certified Fabric Designer with somebody who makes clothes?

Check out my other posts on the BCFD subject:


Brocade Certification – BCFD – Objectives


Data Collection

  • Given a scenario, design a solution that meets the customer’s requirements
  • Given a scenario, demonstrate knowledge of resiliency, redundancy, HA, and locality
  • Given a scenario, describe the various documents required in the design assessment

Practice by making up many scenarios and then deciding which is the best way to design it.

Management and Monitoring Tools

  • Given a scenario, describe how to satisfy a specific monitoring requirement
  • Demonstrate knowledge of Brocade management tools

What to monitor
How to monitor these

Hardware/Software Products and Features

  • Demonstrate knowledge of interoperability of B-Series/M-Series products
  • Given a scenario, describe Brocade hardware products and their purpose
  • Given a scenario, demonstrate knowledge of Brocade software features and purpose

Features: VF, FCR, TI, QoS, FW, IRL, Trunking, Port Fencing, D_Port

Distance Solutions

  • Given availability, performance and distance requirements, design an appropriate long distance solution using Fibre Channel
  • Given a specific set of requirements, demonstrate ability to design a SAN extension solution using FCIP

FastWrite, Tape Pipelining, SACK
Max distance for LWL and ELWL:
Max performance of FCIP:

Performance Tuning Optimization

  • Given a performance scenario, determine an appropriate solution
  • Describe strategies for maximizing throughput in a Data Center Fabric

ICL, nohops, trunking.
How to increase performance in FCIP and FCR:

Migration and Integration

  • Given an existing fabric, identify migration strategies to upgrade the fabric with new technology
  • Given a set of existing fabrics and network devices, determine a consolidation plan that minimizes disruption
  • Describe the requirements to integrate a Brocade DCX Backbone into an existing M-Series fabric

FCR, Integrated Routing, E_port on a switch in the M_series.


  • Identify requirements for restricting which switches/devices may join a fabric
  • Identify security features to restrict administrative access to a switch


BCFD – SAN Design Best Practices

This is a post in series of me studying for the BCFD – Brocade Certified Fabric Designer and it’s my comments on the document SAN Design Best Practices. Apparently this document is planned to be updated. The one I have is version 2.1. To find the latest go to My.brocade.com , documentation, Best Practices Guides. There’s also a “SAN Migration” guide there, but it’s from 2003 so irrelevant when it comes to anything specific, but ideas and reasons and methods might be valuable.

OK. I thought about doing something similar for this document as for the previous ones. But I just don’t feel like that, it’s basically just re-writing things in different wording so that it sticks in my brain. No instead I’ll post the questions that popped into my brain while reading it.

For a starter, I printed this .pdf. OK it’s not so environmentally friendly but it’s nice to have a break. One thing though, it took me a lot longer to read this than the course modules for BCFD. The SAN Design Best Practices is a first class pdf. At least in my opinion. I mean it’s general and specific. It needs to be general because there’s a lot of reasons behind designing things. Also, I don’t have any actual previous experience designing a SAN, so this is all new to me, and brings up a new side of Storage and Storage Networking that I just haven’t bothered much with before. Hopefully I have and will be learning a lot.


This paper refers to a lot of documents.

The “Brocade Scalability Guidelines” is not updated with 16G products (Only goes to FOS 6.3.0).


Page 10 it says “hop count is not a concern if the total switching latency is less than the disk I/O timeout value”.

Every switch hop adds latency (frame needs to be put in ASIC, processed then sent on its way).

Switch latency is measured in microseconds.
Disk I/O – is that the same as multipathing timeout? So 60 seconds for MPIO default in Windows?

How are these latencies measured?

Redundancy Resiliency

Two fairly similar words. One indicates something has a replica or a duplicate to fall back on. The other indicates the strength, can it by itself handle a problem.

Core switches should be equal or higher perf compared to edge switches.
Highest performing switch should be the principal switch.
Redundant links should be placed on different blades/ASICs or at least different port groups.

EHT – edge hold time

New timeout value that can discard blocked frames earlier than the 500ms default (down to 100ms). An I/O retry will still happen for each dropped frame.

Is a new features in FOS 7(confirm) and it is ASIC dependent. Meaning ports in another port group are not affected by the EHT in another port group.

EHT applies to all F_Ports on a switch and all the E_ports that share ASIC with F_Ports.

Intended for initiators only.


Directors interconnected via ICL is not considered a hop in FICON, is it in Open Systems?
Are the links uni-directional?

ICL cables should all have the same length.
ISL can be a bit different, max 30m in difference.
Don’t have ISL and ICL to the same switch/domain.


Hyper-Scale Fabrics: Scale-out Architecture with Brocade DCX 8510 Feature Brief.

Small Fabrics

Page 15: Brocade recommends core-edge as primary SAN design, or mesh for small fabrics (under 2000). !!! That’s pretty big..
On page 16 it says use full-mesh under 1500 ports.

Fan-In and Fan-Out and Oversubscription

Host ports to Target Ports

Device to ISL

Fan In : number of device ports that need to share a single port, be it target or ISL.

Consider: port queue depth, iops and throughput.

Example: If you have 4 devices with one 8G FC port each (32Gbps) and they are connecting over an ISL of 2x8G to another switch to a storage array that also have 2x8G then there is a 2:1 oversubscription, both on the ISL and on the target ports.

Bottleneck Detection

BD consumes switch memory, don’t monitor more than 100 ports on a 48k (no limit on DCX).

Start monitoring a small number of storage ports.

Fabric Watch

Thresholds and actions are generally different between initiators and targets. Thus place these on different switches.

FW Administrator’s Guide 7.0.0

Monitor Class 3 frame discards (C3TX_TO), they are an indicator of high-latency devices.

Fabric Watch Classes

This is a wide grouping of similar devices.
For example, temperature is a part of the class Environment.

Long Distance

Buffer Allocation

Number of credits: 6+ ((link speed Gb/s * Distance in km) / frame size in KB)

On 8510 4K buffers are available per ASIC to drive 16Gbps to 500km at 2KB frame size. With credit linking, buffers can be borrowed from a neighboring ASIC to extend distance.
Details about ‘credit linking’? Not many hits about this on google.

You can connect DWDMs in pass-thru mode where the switch is providing all the buffering.


FCIP adds a small latency (35 micro seconds). This is without the underlying TCP/IP delays.

Use QoS to give FCIP traffic highest priority.
Use CAR (committed access rate) to limit other traffic.
Use ARL (adaptive rate limiting) and set the limit to the remaining bandwidth.

FCIP traffic believes it is the only one using the bandwidth it has available, other traffic will suffer if they if they are sharing.

Use rate limiting on the FCIP on the Brocade systems, don’t limit it on the IP network.


This is mentioned for when extending mainframe/FICON extension over FCIP.

MLX is a Brocade Router.


OC1 =~ 52Mbps or without overhead ~50Mbps
OC12 = 12*52 or about 622Mbps
OC48 = 48*52 or about 2488Mbps

OC12 is recommended for Compression Mode 3 (GZIP/software only)
OC48 is recommended for Compression Mode 2 (SW with HW assist)

Neither of those are recommended for synchronous replications. Mode 0 is recommended and that is HW only compression.

Gaussian or Normal Distribution


Have fun.


There’s quite a bit about new Virtualization Engines in this paper. It basically means a device that has other disk arrays behind it, and then this device presents disks to servers. The danger is told to be that the engine can send a lot of small control frames, using up the buffer credits without using all the available bandwidth.

APM and Fabric Watch can apparently be used to monitor for excessive levels of SCSI reservations. How? – No specific details found but it is apparently threshold configurable in  fabric watch.


Less domains equals to reduced:

  • inter-switch zone transfers
  • name server synchronizations
  • RSCN processing

Dynamic Fabric Provisioning (DFP)

Only on Brocade HBAs and 16G.

Dynamically provision switch-generated virtual WWN.

Can be user-generated as well.

WWN stays the same even after HBA replacement.

In practice this means you can zone, QoS even before the HBA is online and before you know what the WWN is of the new device.

Brocade Certification – BCFD – Fabric Designer – Preparation

BCFD exam is going into Beta testing in January as well!

This post will be updated as I move along through the different objectives / documents.

// Update 2012-01-15: Added the Knowledge Assessment Test.
// Update 2012-01-28: Went through each .pdf and updated some in here.

The link to the Brocade page where it tells you how to register and where to get the material: http://community.brocade.com/docs/DOC-2379

# Note: This link no longer works

When are these available?
On Thursday 12/01/2012 at 0728 EET it was not available.
On Thursay 12/01/2012 at 0803 EET it was available.

So, that would indicate that the time Pearson follows is GMT-6 or Central Time.

On top of that the only available dates for me was 23rd and 24th of January :(
Time to study!
// update, that was changed, it was a mistake so now I get some more time to study :)

Exam Study Resources (page numbers are document page numbers, NOT the PDF page)

As I see it, the importance of each document could be arranged like this:

  1. CFD 200 Modules 3-7
  2. SAN Design Best Practices
  3. FOS Administrator’s Guide
  4. The rest.

With 1/2 sharing the top spot. I haven’t gone through the modules yet but I presume they all complement each other.
The reason for them sharing the top spot is because for this Beta Exam, the CFD200 material is for 8Gbps (and it has quite a lot of details about the M-series McData switches, which the 16Gbps BCFD did not include).

There is also a Knowledge Assessment on my.brocade.com ‘education’ page.
It’s called “CFD 201 8 Gbit/sec BCFD Knowledge Assessment”. Again, this is for 8G so beware that some stuff may not be up to date if you are doing the Beta for BCFD 16G. But, the actual type of questions is something that is useful. It mentions EFCM or Fabric Manager some times (this is the previous names of DCFM or what’s now called Brocade Network Advisor).

There is a nutshell guide for BCFD, but this is from November 2008 making it possibly even more outdated than the CFD200 material. But, because most of the topics are still valid it would still work as a refresher, but you can’t use it for anything specific.

I am doubtful that the M-series will be included in the BCFD 16G exam but as it’s still in the objectives for the 8G it’s probably wise to not skip that part completely. For that 1.5 years (half 2009 and 2010) when I did SAN support I only had one call about a McData switch.

Exam Study Resources with my comments:

CFD 200 BCFD Design Course Modules 3-7

  • Obviously these are the most important. I’ll go through these at a later stage.

Brocade DCX 8510 Backbone Family Datasheet


  • Lots of details about the system specs.

SAN Design Best Practices


  • Pages 2,5-16,19-26,31,32-36,40-45,51-53,55,58-62,66,67,72

Fabric OS Administrators Guide v7.0


  • Pages 37,43,66-70,102,142,151,153,157,196,199,241,273-286,301,314,315,320,372,383,395-398,402-406,414,417,425,429,437,438-443,449,454-461,464,503,504
  • topics
    • 256-area addressing
    • WWN-based PID assignment
    • enabling/disabling a port and port decommissioning
    • gateway links, ICL,
    • RADIUS/LDAP authentication
    • fddcfg / DCC/SCC policies
    • device authentication
    • ipfilter
    • firmwaredownload
    • advanced zoning (regular, broadcast, frame redirection, lsan, qos, ti)
    • traffic isolation zoning (and VF considerations for TI zones)
    • bottleneck detection
    • in-flight encryption and compression (technologies, enabling/disabling)
    • licensing (enable 10GbE, 7800, QoS, FCIP Extension, FICON acceleration, etc, etc, etc)
    • advanced performance monitoring (top talker, frame monitor, end-to-end)
    • adaptive networking (ingress rate limiting)
    • QoS prioritization (SID/DID or CS_CTL – class specific control)
    • trunking (ISL, ICL, EX_Port, F_Port)
    • Long Distance (buffer credit allocation, max distance, credit recovery)
    • FC-FC Routing (support platforms)
    • interopability (FOS vs M-EOS)

Fabric OS Command Reference v7.0


  • Pages  302,695,716,721,957,
  • commands
    • fcrconfigure  /  fcredgeshow
    • portcfgspeed
    • portdportest
    • portfencing
      • Why is the test for “Invalid Word Transmission” called ITW?
      • Ah, on portThConfig it is called “Invalid Transmission Word”.
    • supportshow

Fabric OS FCIP Administrators Guide v7.0


  • Pages 1,6
  • topics
    • FCIP platforms and supported features
      • 7800, FX8-24 and FR4-18i
      • FCIP Trunking
      • Adaptive Rate Limiting
      • 10GbE
      • 8G FC Ports
      • Compression (LZ and Deflate)
      • Acceleration (FCIP Fastwrite, OSTP)
      • QoS
      • VLAN Tagging
      • FICON
      • IPSEC
      • VEX
      • IPv6
      • Jumo Frames
    • 7800 switch hardware overview
    • FX8-24 has support for all features above, except: Jumbo frames (only FR4-18i supports those), IPv6 addresses for FCIP tunnels or IPsec, or 3rd WAN optimization hardware (the other do support this pre FOS 7)


Monitoring and Diagnostic Testing in Today’s High Speed High Density Networks

  • Pages 2-4
  • topics
    • powerpoint presentation of four pages in total
    • fc cable lengths
    • measuring loss
    • embedded diagnostics (bottleneck detection, fabric watch, frame monitoring, port fencing)
      • fmmonitor is a CLI that you can use to set up frame monitoring, for example SCSI reservations and aborts.

Brocade Network Advisor SAN User Manual


  • Pages 12,164,186,255,596,770,794,796
  • topics
    • “Connectivity Map Toolbar” & “Product List”
    • Call Home Feature
    • Copying and Deleting Views
    • SAN Device Configuration (configuration repository management)
    • LSAN Zoning
    • Performance Overview
    • Bottleneck detection

Why dB Loss Matters for Building Reliable Stable Networks


  • Pages 2,3
  • topics
    • total 8 pages
    • link lengths and link loss budgets

Brocade 6505 Hardware Reference


  • Pages 13,15
  • topics
    • ISL trunking
    • switchstatuspoolicy
    • fos native and AG modes

Brocade Access Gateway Administrator’s Guide


  • Pages xiv,72,
  • topics
    • supported hardware and software (which switches and FOS)
    • enabling NPIV on M-EOS and Cisco switches
      • CISCO: config t; npiv enable
      • MEOS:
    • new features -F_Port static mapping, APM, B6510, Target Aggregation, Direct target attachment, N_Port monitoring

“You can run the agshow command to display Access Gateway information registered with the fabric. When an Access Gateway is exclusively connected to non-Fabric-OS-based switches, it will not show up in the agshow output on other Brocade switches in the fabric.”

CEE Admin Guide 53 1002163-02

  • Page xviii
  • topics
    • Supported Hardware: Standalone switch B8000 and the blade FCOE10-24
    • IGMP configuring (IGMP is used in multicast, ethernet)
    • Replacing the B8000
      • configdownload
      • and copy running config and stuff! Looks very similar to the Cisco CLI.

Brocade Adaptors Admin Guide


  • Pages 3,13,
  • topics
    • AnyIO technology on the 1860 Fabric Adapter, just change the SFP and set the mode with bcu port –mode or bcu adapter –mode.
      • HBA or FC mode (FC)
      • Ethernet or NIC mode (GbE)
      • CNA mode (FCoE)
    • Adapter Support (OS + description of adapters)

The New Data Center 1st Edition

ISBN: 978-1-4507-0195-2

  • Pages 65,66,78
  • topics
    • Fabric Based Disaster Recovery (64-67)
      • An overview of some of the extension technologies and reasons behind them.
    • Network Security (77) + Power, Space and Cooling Efficiency (78)
      • Network Security is not FC related.

BCFP 16G Beta – I passed!

In a moment of frustration/impatience I posted on ‘Brocade Certified’ that it was still 3 weeks until the results are posted. Good boss of training Joe Cannata replied that I could e-mail him and get the results before. I did, and I passed! Most excellent and kind of them to do that! So nice to not have to wait the extra three weeks until it’s entered/updated in the Pearson Vue system. What kind of name is that anyway? Pearson Vue? Latin? Turns out no.

VUE stands for: Virtual University Enterprises
Pearson is just from somebody’s name.

Maybe there’s another meaning behind the name Pearson (besides son of pear).

Back to the subject, how nice was it to find out that I passed? The first few days / week after the exam I was really aching to find out. Then I pretty quickly forgot about it. It wasn’t until maybe a month and a half later that I thought, cmooon why is this so slow! All in all it feels pretty awesome to have the certificate! It took a pretty heavy amount of studying. I think maybe now I got the courage to go for the designer one as well!

BCFP 16G : Post-Exam

OK, did the exam. Took 2.5 hours.

It felt like I was plowing through them pretty fast but after some 80-questions the speed dropped significantly and I started to have trouble focusing. Short unfocus/try to think about something else , stand up a bit helped. This test wasn’t as nerve-wrecking for me as the BCFA – maybe it had something to do with that I didn’t pay for this one.. (smålänningen i mig).

I realized last night that I hadn’t listened to the BCFP nutshell guide (the one with audio) so I quickly went through that and I believe it helped a bit, even though it’s for FOS 6.3 and 8G FC stuff. If you do this exam when it goes live, definitely do listen to the nutshell, maybe several times and don’t forget to click the ‘notes’ button on the slides, there’s more info there. It’s kind of a very sped up/condensed version of the whole material, but there’s some things that aren’t even mentioned that you’ll only find in the material. But it is free. It’s nice to have somebody read it out loud, maybe they phrase it a little different than you do (in the head) that is just what’s needed for you to understand it.

Also there are the simulations/labs in the material when you buy that’s really valuable.
For the BCFA they had virtual class rooms for this nutshell – looks like they might have changed this now and recorded it. One avenue less to ask questions.

Now the waiting begins. Two months until I get to know the results. Yikes!

Gotta find something else to occupy myself with now.. hmm..

Archiving? Buddhism? Apparently BCFD (fabric designer) is beta-tested in Dec/Jan. This would be the next logical step for me. Why not huh? =) Anybody has any ideas? Right now I just feel like getting myself into the next Malaz book by Ian C. Esslemont – Stormwielder, supposedly about Greymane!

BCFP – more studying

OK, so now you’ve been studying for a while? Read the material once or twice, made notes. Have you read more details about a command in the command reference guide, or more details about a technique in the FCIP Admin Guide or the FOS guide? Or how do you do your studying?

Now would be a good time to head over to the page where you see the requirements/objectives of the exam.

Write them down and think about each. Could you for example ‘Demonstrate knowledge of how to manage FCIP/FC distributed external solutions’ ? No? Why not? What parts about it do you not understand, are there any foggy parts, etc. If you can explain this to somebody, that’s a great achievement (now you just have to find somebody who doesn’t get glazed eyes but listening to you talk about fibre channel).
Maybe if you imagine a presentation (like in school) and you have to tell somebody about this specific feature. What would you go over?

Two weeks left for me now. Just hit me today that it’s 4 hours long and 180+ questions (so about 1min 20seconds per question). My brain is not going to function very well after the test. Gotta stock up on carbs, don’t drink before.

BCFP – 16G Studying

Another studying tip!

Head over to the forum/community at Brocade. Do it. After you read this post :p

For example in the BCFP there will be questions about NPIV, so it makes sense to read the forum for threads regarding NPIV. Right? I mean there’s bound to be troubleshooting, and getting some ‘real’ experience troubleshooting SAN is quite hard to get, especially with stuff like FCIP/FCR.

Example link: http://community.brocade.com/message/18897#18897

You don’t need an account. If you register you don’t get access to much anyway.

Here is one as an example. But there are lots of posts there and there’s a ton to learn. I usually just troll/help out on HP’s Enterprise Server/Storage forum but I think I’ll start reading on this as well.

BCFP – VF – Virtual Fabrics

The free material does not go through the virtual fabrics and the exam objectives does not mention them specifically. Even so – it’s probably a good idea to get some grip about it anyway as it is mentioned in the BCFP 8G material and there are questions concerning it in the Nutshell Guide and the BCFP 8 knowledge assessment. Also it is mentioned in the pre-requisites for the BCFP (the AFS 141).

Brocade’s overview page of Virtual Fabrics.

 FAQ on Virtual Fabrics


There is also quite a lot of information about VF in the FOS Administration Guide. You can find this guide in lots of places but it is in the exam objectives in the link above.

The theory

It is what it says it is – a way to create independent and logical fabrics and switches that you can use to segment your SAN.
It does not require a license.

There’s logical fabrics and logical switches.

From the FAQ:
A Logical Fabric is an implementation of a Fibre Channel fabric with one or more Logical
Switches participating in the fabric. A Logical Fabric has its own independent instance of
fabric services, name server, zoning database, and so on.

A logical switch needs a fabric id. Default is 128 but can be changed. Same FID cannot be used for same logical switch in the same chassi. You move ports from the default to the new switches. VE_ and EX_ ports needs to be configured after the move. LD, QoS, F_port buffers/trunking may not be enabled on the port.

Max 8 VFs in the DCX, enabling it is disruptive (requires a reboot).

DCX uses 10-bit addressing. Uses part of the last part of the ALPA part of the PID.
Means that that part of the PID does not always indicate a port area.
Increases limit of NPIV, support loop devices.


For 8G products it’s available on the DCX, B5100 and the B5300.
For 16G it’s available on 6510, VA-40FC
FC10-6, FS8-18, FCOE10-24 ports can only be part of the default switch.


(X)ISL — interconnecting switches

The default switch – is the first logical switch you create.

To connect a logical switch (henceforth known as LS) to another one you can just have one of the ports in the LS as an E_port, or you can use XISL – extended ISL.

To use XISL you designate one LS as a base switch. This is used for interconnects and you can have ISLs for several fabrics on this one port/cable. It can have E, VE and EX, VEX ports. *x_ports can only be in the base switch. One base switch per chassi, on DCX platforms the default cannot be the base switch. You connect the base switch to other base switches and then the other logical switches with the same FID merge. By default the logical switches are enabled to use XISL. You can combine normal ISL and XISL. Normal ISL have a lower cost.

ISL (between physical switches)
DISL (between Logical Switches)
IFL (routing, not merging)
XISL (several LISLs inside)
LISL (part of an XISL)

With XISL a logical port is created, their WWN start with 5x.


fosconfig –enable vf
lscfg –create FID [-base] [-force]; setcontext FID; swichdisable (set Domain ID etc); configure; switchenable
lscfg –config 128 -slot <slot> -port <port>
lscfg –delete non-default-logical-switches
lscfg –show
lscfg –change 5 –newfid 7 (disables switch and sets it); fosexec –fid FID -cmd “switchenable”

fosexec –fid FID  -cmd “cmd” (how to run a command on another LS)
fosexec –fid all -cmd “cmd” (on all logical switches)
ipaddrset -ls 123 –add (set an IP for a logical switch, to segment management)


SAN Primer – Introduction to Data Storage

You may have heard about this storage or SAN stuff, but what is it? Is it complicated and cool? Yes. Now it doesn’t have to be complicated, but it sure can be sometimes.
This post is just a brief primer/introduction to storage and what it entails. In case maybe you got a job interview or just would like to know a little bit more about it.

I’ll update this post as I go, last update 2012-07-13 – added some books and free pdfs and links.

What is a SAN?

‘Storage Area Network’ – or storage network.
Generally it doesn’t have to be a ‘network’ it could just be direct connected equipment or peer 2 peer. But what it always entails is a shared storage, most often disk or tape.

What is in a SAN?
When it comes to disk storage on fibre channel there’s a few standard components: FC HBA in the server, SFP and cables, SAN-switch, SFP and cables, FC port in the disk array controller and then there’s something behind the controller that connects disks.

You can connect the FC HBA directly to the disk array.

What is storage?
It’s somewhere where you can store data. Most common today would be: hard drives, flash drives (ssd), magnetic media (tape) and optical media (dvd/blueray/cd).  In a computer you cannot fit hundred of hard drives, but sometimes there is an application that requires lots and lots of data (maybe for example CAD drawings, video editing). This is when a SAN comes in, with only the help of for example a fibre channel card you can give a server access to lots of storage.

How do you do it?
If you want to give a server disk space from a fibre channel SAN this is what you do:

  1. Fullfil the hardware requirements (so fibre channel HBA+drivers and multipath software, SAN-switch, disk array and sfps + cables)
  2. On the SAN-switch create a zone with the disk array’s and the FC HBA’s domain id, port id or port wwn. It’s possible to do it without zones, but they are good for fault isolation.
  3. On the disk array you should now see the server/host, create a disk and map/present it to the host.
  4. On the host you most likely need to do a rescan/reinitialize of the fc-bus.
  5. After the server sees the LUN it will have a new hard disk available, you can use your normal partitioning/format/filesystem tools to create some usable space.

Can I use the same disk on two servers?
This is a pretty common question, the answer is sometimes and the sometimes depends on which file system you are using. It needs to support that more than one host can access it at the same time. NTFS does not support this and if you try it anyway you’ll corrupt the file system. For Windows you need to look into CSV – clustered shared volumes or other networked file systems like NFS/CIFS.

What is the difference between fibre channel and iscsi?

FC is sending SCSI commands over fibre channel, it’s not always fibre or optical cables.
While iSCSI is sending SCSI commands over TCP/IP.
FC is a whole network technology while iSCSI is running on top of a network technology -> TCP/IP.

Some literature:

Both the IBM and the HP one are quite lengthy. The HP one has a lot of HP specific guides, best practices and supported configurations. The FC 101 by Brocade actually goes quite deep into the theory of the FC protocol.

BCFP – Brocade Certified Fabric Professional 16G Beta Exam

More studying. Only a month and a half to go.

Currently repeating/re-reading BCFA stuff and mostly focusing on the new stuff. Expect to do this this whole week but gradually weave in more BCFP stuff.

An idea – I don’t think I need to re-hearse the BCFA that much. The objectives between the two exams are very different and there’s no overlap as far as I can tell. Focusing more on the BCFP now but it was nice anyway to do a short repeat of the BCFA stuff, get back in the game.

The Material

I’ve been going through what’s recommended (the material) and these are the useful pages:
Please note that the second item in each list is the actual page number in the document.
I also took the liberty of adding pages before/after in case they were adding context to the page. It’s not like I’m going to try to remember the pages by heart. And quite often the pages referenced by Brocade were just one page in the middle of a chapter.

For example page 63 in FOS Admin Guide 7 is either about setting ipaddr or routing/FC NAT. I think it’s the FC NAT. Page 77 is either for adressing/WWN based PID assignment or lossless DLS. Page 80 is port numbering schemes for various blades or Forward Error Correction. 99 is verifying syslog/audit log or introduction to RADIUS/LDAP. 117-118 is lossless DLS or overview of IP protocols.
Page 3 in the troubleshooting guide is to the document history or one of the pages with list of common symptoms. Also Page 1 in FCIP Admin Guide is probably not the one they meant :)

There’s some really weird ones in the admin guide. For example page 582 does not exist in FOS admin or 132 is empty in FCIP Admin guide , in both real page counters and the numbers on the pages in the book.

Also some starting/ending points/pages are a little strange, why cut it off there and not the whole chapter/section?

From the Brocade Certified group on facebook I saw that these pages numbers were used to writing a/questions on the exam. Guess this explains why some of the pages are odd, maybe they were written down at a previous version of the document or they just don’t want to document everything :) In the same group they claim that the page they used is the one on the actual page, not the one in for example adobe reader. This means the numbers under Real are the ones pointing to the right pages.

Anyway, with the details from http://community.brocade.com/docs/DOC-2041 here we go:

Updated the numbers on FOS Admin guide (2011-08-18)

  • Fabric OS Administrators Guide v7.0 (53-1002148-02)
    • Pages 63,77,80,99,100,117,118,128,133,137,200,272-281,287-302,372,382,395,404-412,413,418,422-433,435-438,447-481,582
    • Real Pages: 102-103, 120, 139, 168, 173-174, 177, 240, (271-303), 311-343, 410, 412, 422, 435, 444-453, 458-478, 487-521,
  • Fabric OS Command Reference Guide v7.0 (53-1002147-01)
    • Pages 239,244-246,283-290,380-383,609,610,637,653,661-663,701-710,714-717,824,885,930,953-956,1028,1029,1083
    • Real Pages: 273, 278-280, 316-324, 643, 644, 671, 687, 695-697, 735-744, 748-751, 857-858, 918-920, 964, 987-990, 1061-1063
  • Fabric OS Troubleshooting Guide v7.0 (51-1002150-02)
    • Pages 3,22,31,38,92,
    • Real Pages: 23, 43-44, 51-52, 112
  • Brocade 1860 Datasheet (GA-DS-1566-00)
  • Brocade SAN Health Family Data Sheet (GA-DS-870-03)
  • Fabric OS v7.0 Release Notes
    • Pages 11,12
    • Real Pages: 11, 12
  • Brocade Network Advisor SAN User Manual 11.1.x (53-1002167-01)
    • Pages xxxviii,xxxix,47-52,148,202,230-233,647,648,782,911
    • Real Pages: 38-39, 91-96, 192, 246, 274-277, 691-692, 826, 955
  • Brocade Network Advisor Installation Guide 11.1.x (53-1002320-01)
    • Page 9
    • Real Page: 9
  • Fabric OS FCIP Administrator’s Guide (53-1002155-01)
    • Pages 1,6,29-37,54,111-113,132
    • Real Pages: 15, 20-21, 43-52, 68, 125-127
  • Access Gateway Administrator’s Guide (53-1002156-01)
    • Pages 11,22,52,53,67-69,
    • Real Pages: 31, 42, 72-73, 87-89
  • Brocade Adapters Administrator’s Guide (53-1001923-01)
    • Page 35
    • Real Page: 57
  • Pre-release CFP 300 Course (unedited material)
    • Modules 2-8

BCFA – Brocade Certified Fabric Administrator 16G Beta

I am currently going for the BCFP – fabric professional – exam, but I did the BCFA 6 months ago so I’ll re-read the material and of course there’s the new stuff with FOS 7, new hardware, 16g, new ASIC that I should probably learn as well.

Some new stuff

‘fabric name’ is a new feature. But this is also more usable in VF – which is not part of BCFA. Firmware upgrades are the same (phew).
DCFM is now called Network Advisor and it also has IP/routing and MPLS functionality now.
Of course the 16G blades (with the first 8 ports capable of handling 10GB FC) and the FC10-6 blades.
D_port diagnostics (set a port to this before joining it to a trunk, or use it to measure distance on a long distance link, is accurate up to 5m).
IDLE/ARB fill words are no longer necessary to configure (except on 8G platforms and not on Condor3).
Condor3 is the new ASIC for the 16G blades.
New/larger/longer/better ICL between the new directors that use QSFP instead of the crap max 2m copper cable.


One thing that’s great about the kindle is that you can put the Brocade material on it (even in PDF) – just change viewing mode to landscape/horizontal and it will look great. Two pages per slide. I still have material from my old so that one works. But the material that is given for free now has 0 access rights so it does not work on the Kindle.

The way I write my personal notes is: write them off from the brocade material in my own words.

  1. I do this on google docs.
  2. I then download it into .doc and then
  3. e-mail it as an attachment to youraccount@free.kindle.com.
  4. Then next time you hook up your kindle to wifi it will download the documents, converted to .azw.

What’s important here is to not use lists, as the conversion from a google doc saved as word and then e-mailed to youraccount@free.kindle.com does not like lists, it only takes the first level in the list.

I instead used headers, lost of them.

This is also nice because you can put a TOC which is clickable on the kindle.

Also pictures work in this conversation.

BCFP 16g Exam Studying

Right now I’m reading through the BCFA material and writing what I find useful in a google docs document – later I will take this and send to my Kindle – for some of that memorization :)

Think it’s a good idea to refresh some of the BCFA stuff before tackling the BCFP material, it was about 6 months ago since I took the BCFA and there are of course the new 16G hardware that was available then.

If you’re new to all this – do check out the FC 101 training by Brocade,  it is pretty awesome and I think I’ll listen/read it once or probably more before the exam. It’s good to refresh the fundamentals.

BCFP 16G Beta Exam Material

After the announcement of the available material Fabric OS 7.0.0a has been released.

On the page http://community.brocade.com/docs/DOC-2041 only the first revision of the 7.0 release notes is available.

The BCFA 16G beta course material is also available, probably a good idea to read up on both and do a little rehearsing.

The old attachments are these:

  • 1860_FabricAdapter_DS.pdf (942.3 K)
  • FOS_TrblShoot_v700-02.pdf (1.8 MB)
  • FOS_CmdRef_v700.pdf (4.6 MB)
  • FOS_AdminGd_v700-02.pdf (7.2 MB)
  • FOS_FCIP_AdminGd_v700.pdf (2.8 MB)
  • NetworkAdvisor_SAN_InstallGd_v1110.pdf (450.3 K)
  • NetworkAdvisor_SAN_Manual_v1110.pdf (9.5 MB)
  • v7.0.0_releasenotes_v1.0.pdf (1.5 MB)
  • SH_Family_DS_03.pdf (157.7 K)
  • Brocade_Adapters_v2.3.0.0_Admin_Guide.pdf (1.5 MB)
  • AccessGateway_AdminGd_v700.pdf (919.0 K)

With my notes:

  • 1860_FabricAdapter_DS.pdf (this is just a brochure/data sheet of that product)
  • FOS_TrblShoot_v700-02.pdf (trbl and diag guide, 3 June 2011, 138p)
  • FOS_CmdRef_v700.pdf (cmd reference manual- 29 April 2011, 1132p)
  • FOS_AdminGd_v700-02.pdf (3 June 2011, 580p)
  • FOS_FCIP_AdminGd_v700.pdf (29 April 2011, 136p)
  • NetworkAdvisor_SAN_InstallGd_v1110.pdf (13 May 2011, 47p)
  • NetworkAdvisor_SAN_Manual_v1110.pdf (13 May 2011, 1301p)
  • v7.0.0_releasenotes_v1.0.pdf (29 April 2011, 125p)
  • SH_Family_DS_03.pdf (SAN Health Family, brochure/data sheet)
  • Brocade_Adapters_v2.3.0.0_Admin_Guide.pdf (27 October 2010, 292p)
  • AccessGateway_AdminGd_v700.pdf (29 April 2011, 102p)

The newer versions are not available if you have a registered account on my.brocade.com without any product registered to it. I’ve e-mailed Brocade asking for more access. In the meantime some are available on for example HP.com – but the Brocade release notes are not available there. And the HP Release notes for 7.0.0a have the HP names of the products.
On HP’s site you can go to the manuals for the 8/40 to get some more documents.

Actually it looks like the documents available are quite up to date. I guess the Admin Guides etc don’t update that often anyway. There is however a document in the manuals link above that explains that there have been some changes to some of the Brocade Documents. This might be worth checking out.

The conclusion of this little exercise is that the material available is currently good enough (for me).

Reading encrypted/password protected pdf on Linux

Brocade Logo

The problematic PDF

The CFP300 material on http://community.brocade.com/docs/DOC-2041 is encrypted so that it cannot be printed/re-edited without a password.

If you try to open this with evince (default .pdf viewer in Gnome) it will ask for a password.
pdftotext (comes with the software suite poppler) says:

Error: Weird encryption info
Error: Incorrect password

It’s only the material starting with M0* that has this issue, this has also been seen with other documents. Maybe this is because they were created with a too new version of Adobe Acrobat that evince/pdftotext doesn’t support.
The rest of the material are going to be public and they are user/admin guides anyway. But the M0* files are from the actual course material for the 16G so this is why.

The solution on RHEL6 x64: install FoxitReader. Download the .rpm – then hit ‘rpm -Uvh FoxitReader-1.1-0.fc9.i386.rpm’ and it will be installed. To start it just hit ‘FoxitReader’.

Anyway I think it’s nice of Brocade to pre-release the course material for those doing the beta-test. If you want the real material the cheapest is 650$ and then you get the material, narration of the pdfs (usually good quality, not just reading off the presentations) and a few quite good lab exercises.

The Studying

Just threading along here with the material, slowly but steady.
I’m starting with the NPIV / Access Gateway stuff. It’s a bit more complicated than just a switch that isn’t its own domain, it’s also mapping the virtual WWN to the N_ports (a switch in AG mode has N_ports that connect to F_ports in another switch). Usually N_ports are on hosts’ and targets’ ports and the switches’ has the F_ports.