Fibre Channel SAN zoning: Pros and cons of WWN zoning and port zoning

Learn the difference between World Wide Name zoning (WWN zoning) and port zoning, as well as the pros and cons of each on a Fibre Channel storage-area network (Fibre Channel SAN).

What are the pros and cons of port zoning and WWN zoning on a Fibre Channel SAN fabric?
By Fibre Channel SAN zoning, we mean partitioning Fibre Channel fabric into groups to add security and improve management. Fibre Channel SANs can be zoned according to the World Wide Name (WWN) of each device, or according to switch ports.

WWN zoning groups a number of WWNs in a storage-area network zone and allows them to communicate with each other. The switch port that each device is connected to is irrelevant when WWN zoning is configured. An advantage to this type of zoning is that if a port is suspected of being faulty, another port can be used without the need for fabric reconfiguration. A disadvantage with WWN zoning is that if there's a host bus adapter (HBA) failure, the fabric will need to be reconfigured for the host to reconnect to its storage. WWN zoning is sometimes referred to as soft zoning.

Port zoning groups particular switch ports together to allow any device connected to those ports to communicate with each other. The advantages and disadvantages of port zoning are the opposite of those for WWN zoning.

I don't believe either type of zoning is superior to the other, so the type of zoning used is often determined by what a particular consultant or organisation has used in the past.

For more on zoning:

1. Read the definition of zoning

2. Learn why you should zone in Zoning 101

3. Discover the differences between hard zoning and soft zoning


Read more on Storage fabric, switches and networks

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