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Cisco's 9216i

I configured the 9216i to perform FC backups from Green Bay to Syracuse using FCIP functionality over the Internet. I then connected the FC card in our backup server to the 9216i and ran some connectivity tests. After validating that all was running well, I performed a 1-GB backup using EMC's Legato NetWorker backup-and-recovery software. The tape drive in Syracuse acted exactly like a local tape device--NetWorker detected the tape drive and let us label, format and back up to the tape.

Here and There

Configuring the 9216i to perform backups requires some specialized knowledge. FCIP uses Fibre Channel command structures, so you must be familiar with setting up FC devices. Because the server being backed up uses a Fibre Channel card, I configured it to see the FC backup devices at the other end. I also used VSAN (virtual SAN) routing to span between the source and destination networks. Because VSAN is an adaptation of VLANs, any knowledge of IP routing and VLANs will serve you well. The connections communicate over IP, which means you'll have some firewall and possibly DNS configuration to do before your servers can talk to each other.

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We spent two days getting the boxes mounted at both labs, configuring our firewalls so they could talk (each requires two IP addresses--one for management, one for data), and configuring FCIP to communicate over them. We had the benefit of a Cisco engineer on-site--something you're not likely to have unless you're a large customer or willing to pay for professional services. Both ends must be configured from an IP perspective and the hardware installed before you can begin. Trying to accomplish this task without staff on each end will mean several trips between locations as you try to work out any stumbling blocks.

We had some problems--including a tape that was accidentally ejected after business hours (there was no one at Syracuse to put the tape back in)--that slowed our testing. If travel to the remote site had been required, it would have meant at least two round trips from Green Bay to Syracuse to get the system up and running. Of course, you could configure the 9216i for the remote site and ship it out, but you'll still need to configure IP addressing for the two ports. Once the two devices are communicating, you can use the GUI to set up VSANs, configure FCIP and--according to Cisco--complete any other configuration that can be done through Cisco's IOS. We looked at VSANs and used the GUI for troubleshooting, and that lightened the load. Although you still need some FCIP knowledge, having the 9216i might let untrained staff create VSANs.

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