What is a director switch and when should it be used?

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A director-class switch, or simply director, is a high-availability fibre-channel switch, quoted with availability of 99.999% or just over 5 minutes downtime (on average) per year. Directors have additional features to provide for their minimal downtime, such as hot swap components (fans, power supplies, controller cards) and software features like online upgradeable firmware.

Typically directors are used in high-availability mission-critical SANs but also as core switches where the downtime of a switch has a high impact. In a core-edge SAN, downtime of the core switch will impact all hosts as the switch connects to all the storage ports. Some SAN users choose to implement directors across their entire environment to guarantee a high level of availability however this is a tradeoff against the increased cost of director ports. You should recommend directors for core switches and for any applications which need all day, every day availability.

This was first published in January 2007

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