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Questions about the MDS platform

Hi fellow forum members!

A colleague and I have managed two MDS 9124 switches for a few years now, and have some questions about these devices. 

The MDS 9124s (version 4.13(a)) were integrated into an existing fabric made up of McData Spheron 4500 devices, and we have been managing the zones through the McData GUI interface.  We are looking to get rid of the McData devices (they are slow, old, out of support), and we will no longer have them as a means to manage zones.  We also have two brand new MDS 9148 switches (probably shipped with version 5.0) to integrate into the fabric.

Q1: Does one switch in the fabric need to be a master for the zone database?  Or is there a shared master model where all switches maintain revisions? Or perhaps there is even a standalone model where the Fabric manager pushes the zones to all devices?

Q2: What is the recognized best practice when adding and removing switches to the fabric?

Q3: Is Cisco Fabric manager the only way to manage Zones with multiple MDS switches?  If so, can it manage switches with older versions of firmware?

Q4:  Are there any implications on having mixed firmware versions on the same fabric?

I am no expert on the MDS fiber switches (I'm a networking guy with my core skills on IOS), so I apologize in advance if there are basic things I don't know about storage area networks.

Thanks in advance for all help!

Regards,

Jason

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