For today's storage area networks (SANs), analyzers are indispensable for finding and correcting network problems. Analyzers supply SAN managers with a view into the traffic traversing their networks and allow them to quickly troubleshoot everything from bad cables to system failures. Connecting an analyzer to a SAN requires inline installation, that is, placing the analyzer on the links between SAN components. However, breaking links means interrupting normal SAN traffic and introducing downtime. To alleviate this operational problem, the Cisco® MDS 9000 Family of director and fabric switches provides an analyzer connection option that does not require breaking links, disrupting traffic, or downtime called the Switched Port Analyzer or SPAN port. This paper describes the abilities and limitations of the SPAN port for SAN analysis.
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