I/O Connectivity

Fibre Channel Protocol for SCSI

The Fibre Channel Protocol (FC-FCP) standard was developed by the InterNational Committee of Information Technology Standards (INCITS), and published as ANSI standards. The System z Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) I/O architecture conforms to the FC standards specified by the INCITS.

Each FICON Express8S, FICON Express8, FICON Express4, FICON Express2, and FICON Express channel can be defined in FCP mode. FCP mode provides full fabric attachment of SCSI devices to the operating system images. This allows z/VM, z/VSE, and Linux on System z to access industry-standard SCSI storage controllers and devices.

With FCP channel full fabric support, multiple switches/directors can be placed between the System z server and SCSI device, allowing many “hops” through a storage area network (SAN) and providing improved utilization of intersite-connected resources and infrastructure. This may help to provide more choices for storage solutions or the ability to use existing storage devices and can help facilitate the consolidation of UNIX® server farms onto System z servers, protecting investments in SCSI-based storage.

System z FCP full fabric, dynamic any-to-any topology graphic.

System z FCP full fabric, dynamic any-to-any topology graphic.

Preplanning and setup of SAN for FCP environment on zEnterprise EC12, zEnterprise BC12, zEnterprise 196, zEnterprise 114, and System z10

The worldwide port name (WWPN) tool is designed to assist you with preplanning of your Storage Area Network (SAN) environment prior to the installation of your zEnterprise EC12, zEnterprise BC12, zEnterprise 196, zEnterprise 114, or System z10 server.

This standalone tool is designed to allow you to set up your SAN in advance, so that you can be up and running much faster once the server is installed. The tool assigns WWPNs to each virtual Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) channel/port using the same WWPN assignment algorithms a system uses when assigning WWPNs for channels utilizing N_Port Identifier Virtualization (NPIV).

The tool needs to know the FCP-specific I/O device definitions in the form of a .csv file. This file can either be created manually, or exported from Hardware Configuration Definition/Hardware Configuration Manager (HCD/HCM). The tool will then create the WWPN assignments, which are required to set up your SAN. The tool will also create a binary configuration file that can be imported later by your system.

The WWPN tool can be downloaded from Resource Link:


Assigning WWPNs to physical Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) ports:

On zEnterprise EC12, zEnterprise BC12, zEnterprise 196 and zEnterprise 114, we extended the capabilities of the worldwide port name (WWPN) tool to physical Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) channel/ports, allowing the tool to show WWPNs for both virtual and physical ports ahead of system installation time. In addition, you can retain your storage area network (SAN) configuration if a FICON feature is replaced instead of altering your SAN configuration based upon the FICON feature's "burned in" WWPN.

This enhancement applies to all of the FICON features supported on zEnterprise EC12, zEnterprise BC12, zEnterprise 196, and zEnterprise 114 when configured as CHPID type FCP, supporting attachment to SCSI devices. It is transparent to operating systems.

Linux on System z support for XIV

In April 2009, IBM announced support of Linux on System z (SUSE SLES 10 SP2) with IBM XIV Storage System - a revolutionary open disk system that represents the next generation of high-end disk storage, offering self-tuning and self-healing for consistently high performance and reliability as well as management simplicity and low total costs.

The XIV Storage System is compatible with the FICON Express8S and FICON Express8 channel (CHPID type FCP for attachment to SCSI devices) autonegotiating to 4 Gbps when attached to a supported FICON/FCP director or switch. zEnterprise EC12, zEnterprise BC12, zEnterprise 196, zEnterprise 114, FICON Express8S, FICON Express8, and Linux on System z combined with the phenomenal capabilities of XIV Storage System can help support today's fast-growing, dynamic environments.

Support of FCP enables System z servers to attach to SCSI devices as well as access these devices from z/VM, z/VSE or Linux on System z. This connectivity provides enterprises with a wide range of choices for storage solutions and may allow use of existing storage devices, helping to protect existing hardware investment and reduce total cost of ownership for Linux implementations.

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System z FCP full fabric, dynamic any-to-any topology graphic.


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Operating Systems

IBM System z supports multiple operation systems:


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Do you have questions about the new I/O functionalities?


Do you have the appropriate FICON jumpers, patch cables, and conversion kits for your server? For all your cabling needs see the System z Fiber Cabling Services in the IBM Resource Link Services section (registration required)

IBM education

Are you ready for FICON? Learn about FICON Planning, Operation, Implementation, and Problem Determination, Course #ES326