HP releases the 5900CP: Native FC and FCOE Gateway

5900CP: a 5900 with Converged Ports

It took some time, but here it is : the 5900CP, a converged FC/FCoE datacenter switch.

Product details:


Click to access 14252_div.pdf

Full FC/FCoE support

The 5900 platform had already full support for full FCoE in 3 modes:

  • FCF : Fiber Channel Forwarder
  • NPV : N_Port Virtualization
  • Transit : FIP snooping mode

FCF Mode

The FCF Mode provides complete FC Fabric services functionality with:

  • FC Name-Services
  • Zoning based on pWWN and FCID, hard-zoning by default, optional soft-zoning
  • Zone alias, zone-sets and full/partial zone-set distribution
  • VSAN support and VSAN Trunking ports
  • FC Routing through FC static routes and FSPF dynamic routing
  • NPIV support by default on all the F_Ports

NPV Mode

The NPV Mode is particularly interesting for interop scenario’s. While the FCF mode provides full fabric services, the Fabric Services are only interoperable with other FCF Comware based switches.

If a FC SAN has existing FC Switches (from Brocade or Cisco for instance), the 5900 operating in NPV mode can perfectly integrate with the existing FC Fabric, since no Fabric Services are handled by a FC Device in NPV mode.

If the FC Fabric Services are provided by the 5900 in FCF mode, the other FC Switches (from Brocade, Cisco or HP Virtual Connect for instance) can perfectly connect as NPV devices to the 5900.

The 5900CP : The gateway to existing FC

All the previous items were already part of the existing Ethernet only 5900 series. The 5900CP simply adds the native FC interface functionality to the previous feature set.

This allows for existing servers or storage systems with FC to be connected to the 5900CP, while allowing FCoE connections for newer CNA based servers or storage systems at the same time. In order words : a very nice integration and migration path for FC and FCoE.

Each interface of the 5900CP is an SFP+ slot, and support inserting:

  • classic Ethernet SFP+ optics : provides 1/10Gb Ethernet
  • native FC optics : provides 4/8Gb FC

In the configuration of the 5900CP, the interface can be configured, so at 1 point you will see Ten1/0/1, after reconfiguration, it will show as FC1/0/1.

Full HP Storage portfolio supported !

HP has validated the 5900CP for use with all existing HP FC storage systems (MSA/P2000/EVA/3Par/XP) and FCoE (3Par) system.

Visit the storage SPOCK site for details:


IRF Support

While the current Comware7 software for the 5900 has support for up to 9 units in the IRF system, using FC/FCoE  will limit support for IRF to 2 units in the system (support limit, not technically enforced). This has to do with the fact that they want to avoid sending storage traffic over the IRF links (technically possible, but it adds an additional hop, and for storage, every hop counts with regards to latency).

So that also makes sense in the SAN-A/SAN-B concept, since the SAN-A would have only IRF Member1 local  ports (server facing and uplinks), while SAN-B would have only Member2 local ports (server facing and uplinks).

This effectively locks down each VSAN to a physical member inside the IRF system.

Converged Optics

While the flexibility of the interfaces is already very nice by itself, HP is also releasing a Converged Transceiver. This is a single transceiver which can do both 10G Ethernet and FC (although only 1 at the same time 🙂 ). The admin can simply configure the interface as FC or Ethernet, and the optic will behave as an Ethernet or FC optic. No need to swap the transceiver anymore.

Comware 7

And the good part of course is that this is all part of the Comware7 feature set, so no additional license is required for any of these features.

Do not forget the existing feature set of Comware7, which is on full speed now (it took some time to get the features ported from 5.2 to 7), so the same 5900 series (including the 5900CP) has support for:

  • Full L2/L3 Routing on IPv4/IPv6
  • IRF

So being able to combine this complete feature set makes it a very nice platform in my opinion.

This entry was posted in Comware7, FCOE, IRF and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to HP releases the 5900CP: Native FC and FCOE Gateway

  1. Richard says:

    Do you know whether the new 5900CP is supported with Virtual Connect and FCoE Multi-hop?

    • That is what I heard, but I did not find an official doc/link about this, so I want to be careful with my answer until the official docs/statements are available. Will update when I get/see official docs.

      • I have received confirmation that the 5900CP is fully supported with Virtual Connect (native FC, flexfabric and pure ethernet versions) and FC as well as FCOE multihop.

  2. Michael says:

    Is it possible to run all mentioned features at the same time on HP 5900CP switches (so TRILL, SPB/PBB, MPLS (VPLS/L2VPN/L3VPN), Full L2/L3 Routing on IPv4/IPv6, all together) or do I have to choose one mode?

    • Hi Michael,

      AFAIK, all these features can run on 1 box. However, at a single interface, features may be mutually exclusive.
      I personally also do not think you will be running all of these at the same time, since a design will/should select some of these technologies. Just running all of them to run them does not make sense to me.

      E.g. TRILL provides very nice L2 multi-pathing inside a data center, but lacks a true multi-tenancy concept since it is using a single VLAN space. This is available in SPB/PBB through the i-sid, which make it more flexible in my opinion compared to TRILL. In your design you will typically select either TRILL or SPB, but not both at the same time ( or use them at different layers, like TRILL inside DC, and SPB as DC interconnect).

      For the advanced L2 functions (TRILL,SPB,L2VPN,VPLS), you should know that at present, the box does not support providing L3 services “inside” the virtualized L2 network on the same interface.

      On a different interface, all classic L3 configuration is of course still available.

      So if you want to provide L3 services for a virtualized (trill/spb/vpls) L2 network, you can use a back to back cable (e.g. local 10G DAC) from 1 interface (or link-agg interface) which is member of the trill/spb/vpls network, to another interface which is providing the L3 services (classic L3, VRF, MPLS L3VPN etc).

      Some boxes allow this to be done internally (but still offering/using another interface internally), but this is not possible AFAIK with the 5900. This may still be under development of course, but for now, assume an external connection.

  3. Michael says:

    Hello Peter,

    thanks for the information. The 5900CP looks like a nice allrounder. I actually want to route to the racks and have FC ports connected from the SAN, adding some NFS storage to the 10Gbe ports…
    I´m just asking myself why HP releases the FF 5700. There´s the 5900, the 5900CP. As 5700 < 5900 it looks like the 5700 is less capable in terms of features as 5900.

    Click to access HP%20FF%205700.pdf

    • Hi Michael,

      1/ 5900CP
      Yes, CP looks very nice to me as well and the FC config is not too bad either. Make sure to follow the IRF+FC design recommendations regarding 2 fabrics (1 vsan per IRF member, each vsan only using local member interfaces to avoid FC/FCOE traffic over the IRF links) and to stick to 2 IRF members (when combined with FC/FCOE)

      2/ 5700
      I have not seen official HP docs about the 5700, but the h3c docs typically provide a good indication. Based on these docs, it seems the 5700 is really intended for the L2 data center access layer (with e.g. support for the storage protocols DCBX/PFC/ETS), but not as core L3 device (unlike the 5900, which is perfectly suitable as L3 core). Some static routing seems available, but not at a level where you would actually want to use it (IMO).
      So my guess:
      * lower feature set, but equal hardware performance as 5900
      * probably better price point
      * ideal candidate as port extender for the upcoming vertical IRF
      * or just as a classic L2 server access with IRF

      • Michael says:

        Hello Peter,

        thanks again for clarification. I just noticed that H3C published english release notes on its homepage. So indeed the FF 5700 / S6300 is layer 2 only; no routing, no MPLS/VPLS. Although it has the Broadcom Trident 1 builtin. Seems with HP the 5900CP would be the right choice.


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