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Cisco MDS Series OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Cisco MDS Series is #2 ranked solution in top Enterprise SAN tools. IT Central Station users give Cisco MDS Series an average rating of 10 out of 10. Cisco MDS Series is most commonly compared to Dell EMC Connectrix SAN:Cisco MDS Series vs Dell EMC Connectrix SAN. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a comms service provider, accounting for 37% of all views.
What is Cisco MDS Series?

Cisco MDS 9000 Series Switches have met and often exceeded the demanding requirements for storage area networks for more than a decade. They offer a combination of performance, non-stop operations, and multiprotocol flexibility.

Cisco MDS Series is also known as Cisco MDS 9100, Cisco MDS 9222i, Cisco MDS 9700.

Cisco MDS Series Buyer's Guide

Download the Cisco MDS Series Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: November 2021

Cisco MDS Series Customers

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Pricing Advice

What users are saying about Cisco MDS Series pricing:
  • "It's perpetual licensing and maintenance is a recurrent cost."

Cisco MDS Series Reviews

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Shivanand Hadapad
Solution Architect at a tech services company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Easy to upgrade, easy to configure and easy to administer

Pros and Cons

  • "The features I found most valuable are the ease of deployment, it's easy to upgrade, easy to configure and easy to administer. There is no need for vendor professional services which saves project cost. The usage of WebUI for all primary features like hostname, IP address, SNMP traps, zone sets, addition and deletion of zone members or zone sets, backup of switch DB is very simple."
  • "It is quite a stable product. It should be shipped with the latest firmware to avoid download and upload schema at the beginning of the initial setup. There should also be the possibility of downgrading the firmware when required. WebUI needs DCNM instead a web-based GUI should be made available like Brocade san switch."

What is our primary use case?

Cisco MDS 9148 SAN switch model is the best product. It is highly reliable and at a low cost, easy to deploy, easy to upgrade, easy to configure and easy to administer. This gives effective performance when used for SAN switch connectivity between hosts and storage boxes. It supports reverse compatibility 4/8/16 Gbps of throughput. When configured in redundancy there is a 0% chance of a path missing between the host and storage array. It also supports short distance and long-distance ISL configuration without any issues. WebUI is simple and easy to understand.

How has it helped my organization?

Migration tasks were easy from two different geographies. There were no issues reported on the SAN switch of a path failure. Path failures are handled very effectively. ISL works well. The SAN switch database gets replicated within a fraction of a second. No need to do manual update on zone database. Its intelligent network services and traffic management helps to deploy virtual SAN technology. The quality of services and inter-virtual SAN routing help multiple departments in the organization get prioritized services to data accessibility. At an organization level, it helps to meet network security requirements of role based access based on AAA. It easy to integrate with LDAP, Active Directory. It supports FTP, SFTP, SSHv2, SNMPv3 and also supports AES and many more features.

What is most valuable?

The features I found most valuable are the ease of deployment, it's easy to upgrade, easy to configure and easy to administer. There is no need for vendor professional services which saves project cost. The usage of WebUI for all primary features like hostname, IP address, SNMP traps, zone sets, addition and deletion of zone members or zone sets, backup of switch DB is very simple. 

The CLI mode is also very easy to use for deployment, management and administration. The commands are easy to remember and is also user-friendly to do all management and administration tasks. It helps to meet network security requirements of role-based access based on AAA. It's easy to integrate with LDAP, Active Directory. It supports FTP, SFTP, SSHv2, SNMPv3 and also supports AES and many more features.

What needs improvement?

It is quite a stable product. It should be shipped with the latest firmware to avoid download and upload schema at the beginning of the initial setup. There should also be the possibility of downgrading the firmware when required. Webui needs Data Center Network Management tool licensed copy for accessing Cisco Switches instead a web-based GUI should be made easily available the way Brocade san switch is managed.

It makes sense to get a licensed copy of Data Center Network Management tool if there are more cisco switches (network core or perimeter or san switches or managed TOR switches) or else to manage just Cisco SAN Switches for a few product would be costly and is challenging to convince a client from a cost perspective.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working on this product for a long time now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Highly reliable. I have not seen much failure or major failure incidents.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is easy to scale through ISL or migrate in-family models is easy task.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their support is very prompt and supportive.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We have no vendor lock-in system. We work on all products based on deal size and deal cost. I have exclusively worked on Brocade and Cisco SAN Switches.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is pretty simple. It is a 45 mins task to bring the whole new setup for production go live.

What about the implementation team?

I did it on my own from the manual and with the help of generic training videos like YouTube. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Pricing is almost the same for most vendors. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PP
Solution Architect at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Good reliability, integration, and support

Pros and Cons

  • "The issues with these switches are extremely rare, and the whole product line is very predictable and stable."
  • "The licensing model could be less complicated."

What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is as a standard SAN (single-site), and metro-SAN (10-15km between datacenters). Both types of switches, fixed and directors, are used.

How has it helped my organization?

There's no big choice in SAN, but if you have Cisco UCS blades, the choice is obvious.

MDs have good integration, a single point of management (DCNM), and support from the vendor. Also, CVD guides are very helpful in the design stage. They have the same CLI as on the Nexus models, which also helps in administering.

What is most valuable?

MDS's reliability is at a high level. The issues with these switches are extremely rare, and the whole product line is very predictable and stable. 

What needs improvement?

The licensing model could be less complicated.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using the Cisco MDS Series for approximately five to seven years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Haven't faced with major issues, so, i can say that it just works.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability depends more on the chosen architecture ad topology, than on the specific device. The MDS directors are highly scalable and upgradable, but if the wrong model was chosen on the first stage - nothing can fix the problem of higher costs and downtimes.

How are customer service and technical support?

Quite fast reaction on the cases, just as it should be. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

There's no big choice on SAN market - either Brocade (now is part of Broadcom) or Cisco MDS line. I worked with both, and both are high-quality products, but I prefer MDS if there's a choice. 

How was the initial setup?

If everything was planned before - there was no major problems. Some installations must have more detailed planning and consultations with vendor (especially in case if you have long-distance links between switches than others, but in general, the product has very good documentation and support, so I can't say that the installation is complicated if it's planned correctly. 

What about the implementation team?

Mostly we implemented it by our team. In rare cases there was a communication with vendor engineers, mostly in complicated installations with many vendors involved, and they were very helpful. 

What was our ROI?

Never calculated :).

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

SAN is highly critical component (actually, i'm not sure is there's something more critical than it), so my recommendation is to have your own trained and experienced staff, who will work with the partner or SAN vendor directly before purchase. Only in this case the choice of the topology, models, configurations and licenses will fit to your organisation's infrastructure. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

It depends, but sometimes Cisco gives better pricing than Broadcom, and the choice also depends on the other equipment of DC. For example, if you already use Nexuses in DC and also use DCNM, you may want to use DCNM to manage the SAN, which makes MDS more obvious choice.

What other advice do I have?

The only advice is to invest in the staff education.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We're cisco's partners and provide system integration and support of their (and not only their) products for our customers.
Find out what your peers are saying about Cisco MDS Series vs. Dell EMC PowerVault and other solutions. Updated: November 2021.
552,305 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Mike  Zukerman
Sr. Cloud Systems Engineer at a computer software company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Good zoning, stable, scalable, and the support is good

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable features of this solution are the devices, databases, and zoning."
  • "The GUI client is Java-based and we know that Java is not secure, so everyone disables it."

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution to manage our storage and inner network solution.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features of this solution are the devices, databases, and zoning.

What needs improvement?

The GUI client is Java-based and we know that Java is not secure, so everyone disables it.

It would be nice to have an HTML-based client.

The initial setup could be simplified.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for six years.

We are not using the latest version. We are using version 8.3.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's a stable solution. I don't have any issues with the stability of it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is good.

We have three users in our organization who are using this solution. It is specifically for administration, and not for regular users. 

This is a management piece for the storage area network. Only storage administrative users, use it.

We are increasing the usage. We have purchased some new switches.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have contacted technical support and they are okay, once you pass the initial tier. The initial tier can help you with simple things.

For the more complex issues, it is almost always escalated to another level.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

In my previous employment, I used a competitive product call Brocade Switches from HP, for SAN management.

I changed employment and the new company uses MDS. Both are similar. 

Cisco is primarily used for Cisco environments. HP is more universal and it can manage any server, not just Cisco Servers, clients, and storage.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was a bit complex. It is more on the complicated side than it is easy.

It took a month to deploy this solution.

I am responsible for the maintenance of it.

What about the implementation team?

I completed the implementation myself.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It's perpetual licensing and maintenance is a recurrent cost.

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend that you get training before using this solution.

I would rate Cisco MDS Series an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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