Posts Tagged ‘Logical Unit Number’

Zoning vs. LUN masking explained

September 28, 2012

Zoning and masking terms are often confused by those who just started working with SAN. But it takes 5 minutes googling to understand that the main difference is that zoning is configured on a SAN switch on a port basis (or WWN) and masking is a storage feature with LUN granularity. All modern hardware supports zoning and masking. Given that, the much more interesting question here is what’s the point of zoning if there is masking with finer granularity.

Both security features do the same thing, restrict access to particular storage targets. And it seems that there is no point in configuring both of them. But that’s not true. One, not that convincing argument, is that in case one of the features is accidentally misconfigured, you still maintain security. But the much bigger issue in no-zoning configuration are RSCNs. RSCNs are Registered State Change Notification messages which are issued by SAN Name Server service when fabric changes it’s configuration (new device has been added to the fabric, a zone has changed, a switch name or IP address has changed, etc). RSCNs can be disruptive to fabric operation. And if you don’t have zones RSCNs are flooded to everyone each time something changes in a fabric, even if it has nothing to do with majority of devices. So zoning is a SAN best practice and its configuration is highly recommended.

In fact, Brocade recommends to adopt a so called Single Initiator Zoning (SIZ) practice, when one host pWWN (initiator) is zoned to one or more storage pWWNs. It reduces RSCN issue to a minimum.

As a best reference read Brocade’s: Secure SAN Zoning – Best Practices.