IP/Ethernet to Fibre Channel Translation Guide (Including Brocade FOS vs Cisco NX-OS)

Being very familiar with NX-OS based Fibre Channel (FC) Fabrics, when I was presented with a Brocade (now Broadcom) FC fabric, first thing I googled was “Cisco to Brocade FC translation” and a few other variants. My searches mostly came up empty. That’s why I decided to create my own “translation” table.






This table will definitely help me in being able to learn about and manage Brocade FC fabric.

I hope others finds this useful as well!


Brocade FC


Additional Notes

IP address

“FC Address” aka “Fabric Address” aka

“Port Identifier” aka “PID”


These are assigned automatically – are almost never assigned manually

MAC address



WWNN are like system MAC addresses and WWPN are like NIC MAC addresses. Some systems can have multiple HBAs (i.e. NIC equivalents) so there could be multiple WWPNs associated with a single WWNN.




FSPF configures itself automatically. It almost never needs to be tweaked or changed.




Host Bus Adapter. There is also Converged Network Adapter, CNA, usually configured through server management GUI or BIOS/UEFI when used with FCoE capable switch, which virtually separates Ethernet and FC configuration over the same physical Ethernet based NIC.



Fibre Channel Switch

Domain can also be Virtual Fabric aka Logical Switches or something like VLANs within Brocade – e.g. Front Domains (FD),
Translate Domain (xD) – which are kinda like VLANs/VSANs with especial purposes. The NX-OS Fibre Channel Switches also have a “domain ID” per VSAN, but are not referred to as a domain.




Related to Quality of Services (QoS) configuration.

Root Switch

Principle Switch

 Principle Switch

Principle switch doesn’t have the same significance in FC as root switch does in Ethernet. Principle switch assigns the FCIDs and determines which switch manages certain control plane functions.

Access Control List



Zones are similar to ACLs except they are shared between all connected switches/domains within a fabric. They define which WWNN/WWPN can talk to each other. Typically there is a zone for every pair of disk/server. Some servers can share disks (e.g. ESXi hosts and other virtualization platforms)

An applied access control list

Activated Zones

Activated Zones

 Activated Zones are kinda like an applied access list aka access-group in IOS. Additionally, in NX-OS, there is also something called a Full Zone Set, which is simply the zone configuration that has not been activated yet.

DNS Entry


Device Alias

Alias on Brocade is shared within a Fabric. Device Alias on NX-OS are shared between all the switches in the fabric within a VSAN.

Ports ON servers

N ports

N ports

Node Ports are the same in Brocade and NX-OS. In NX-OS, ports on the NPV switch going to the fabric are called NP ports. In Brocade, they are still simply called N ports (AFAIK!).

Ports between switches

E ports

E ports

Can be Trunking E, or TE ports on NX-OS, and Virtual TE (VTE) when doing FCOE on NX-OS

Ports ON switches (to servers or storage)

F ports

F ports

Fabric Ports – ports from a Node (N port) to a switch (F port). Unlike Ethernet, where there is no distinction, both ends are simply Ethernet ports, FC has many various defined ports types – N, NP, F, E, TE, VTE, etc.

ARP entries

Names Servers
– NS

Fibre Channel
Naming Service – FCNS

Shows FC address/FCID to WWPN/WWNN mapping.


Logical Switch/Virtual Fabric/Fabric


Brocade has Base Logical Switch for creating XISL/TE ports between switches and regular Logical Switches for F and E
ports. There is no such distinction in NX-OS – a VSAN can have TE, F or E ports.


FC Routing (FCR) via LSAN

Routing (IVR)

Allows routing between two separate fabrics – often used for backup appliances.





Trunks (i.e. ports in between switches)


E ports

XISL ports

E Ports

TE Ports

VTE Ports (FCoE)

ISL – Inter-switch links – also E ports on Brocade or E/TE on NX-OS. On Brocade, ISL typically only carry one fabric at a time – and those are E ports. On NX-OS, ISLs can carry multiple fabrics, i.e. VSANs known as TEs. Brocade also has the concept of VSANs, i.e. multiple fabrics on the same switch, using Logical Switches. 


NX-OS TE ports are roughly equivalent to XISL (extended ISL) on Brocade switches. Things do get murky when you get into Brocade FCOE, where Virtual TE, or VTE ports may be possible – not sure about that yet.


Also LISLs (Logical ISL) in Brocade are similar (but not the same) as VTE in NX-OS. LISLs in Brocade carry SINGLE Fabric from Base logical switch (aka Virtual Fabric and like a default VDC) to a logical switch aka another Virtual Fabric (like a regular VDC). Then one can configure XISLs between two Base switches to carry
multiple Fabrics. It’s kinda like a long-winded way of configuring TEs equivalent in NX-OS.


Trunk in Brocade



Requires extra license in Brocade


Exchanges in

Flows in NX-OS

Communication between any two FC Addresses/FCIDs.

Routed Links

EX ports

VE ports

VEX ports

VE ports

FCIP Profiles

EX ports in Brocade for routing between FC fabrics. VE  (aka
Tunnel) ports used for FCIP. VEX used to route between FC fabrics over IP. Equivalent is VE ports and FCIP profile in NX-OS.

Peer Links / VSS Link / VSL Link / Stack Ports

Inter-Chassis Links  (ICLs)



Inter-Chassis Links – ICL in Brocade –  are used to connected two Brocade chassis via ICL specific blades. ICLs allow for capacity expansion at up to 2 tbps between chassis with the advantage of not counting as a hop. There is no equivalent on NX-OS. Two Cisco switches or chassis can only be connected as E, TE or VTE links at capacities up to 512 gbps.




Used to collect and share diagnostic info for troubleshooting with vendor support

Ethernet Ports

GE ports on
Brocade, regardless of whether it’s 1g, 10, or 40g!

Ethernet Ports

 These are used for FCIP in both Brocade and Cisco. Additionally, Ethernet ports are also used for FCoE in Brocade.


FCIP Circuit

FCIP Profile

 FCIP encapsulates FC frames in IP to transport FC over an IP network. Usually this is limited to backup applications due to loss and latency issues.


Access Gateway
(AG) switch

NPV switch

AG/NPV switches are not a direct parallel of NX-OS FEXes,
however, it’s a similar concept. Unlike FEXs, AG/NPV switches still require some configuration, however, most of the key configuration (i.e. zoning) is done on the parent/NPIV switch in both cases. The configuration for F-ports (i.e. ports going to the servers) is still done on the AG/NPV switch


Trunk Area (TA) ports – F port trunks

F port port-channels in context of NPIV only




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