How To Use Device-Alias on a Cisco MDS

As I continue on my journey of learning how to manage storage I have learned about using device aliases instead of pwwn’s directly. The benefit to using device-alias in this manner makes it easy when a device has new pwwn’s assigned to it (due to hardware replacement or in the case of a blade a move to a new chassis) that you can update the device-alias and not have to make any other storage assignments or changes.

To create a device alias, you’ll use the device-alias database command in global configuration mode. Once you are in database configuration mode, you can create device aliases using the device-alias command, like this:

fc1 # config
fc1(config)# device-alias database 
fc1(config-device-alias-db)# device-alias name <Friendly name> pwwn <Fibre Channel WWPN> 
fc1(config-device-alias-db)# exit

Now that we have defines our device aliases you must also commit the changes to the device alias database.

fc1(config)# device-alias commit

This commits the changes to the device alias database and makes the device aliases active in the switch. To view our changes just use the following command

fc1 # show device-alias database

Another benefit is once you create a device alias it will now show in any cpommands that display the pwwn. For example if we want to show what pwwn are active in a zone.

# show zone name VNXMYZONE active
zone name VNXMYZONE vsan 1
* fcid 0x8a9856 [pwwn xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx] [DEVICE-1]
* fcid 0x8xyzpd [pwwn xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx] [VNX1-B4]

You can also create device aliases for your target devices in the same manner. The use of the device alias alos makes it easy to add members to zones. In this example we are creating a zone and adding using device aliases.


zoneset name Fabric1_VSAN1 vsan 1
zone name VNXMYZONE
member device-alias DEVICE-1 initiator
member device-alias VNX1-B4 target
zoneset activate name Fabric1_VSAN1 vsan 1
zone commit vsan 1

A few other commands that are handy as well. Need to delete a device-alias or rename it?

Removes the device name for the device that is identified by its pwwn.

fc1(config-device-alias-db)# no device-alias name device-name

Renames an existing device alias with a new name.

fc1(config-device-alias-db)# device-alias rename old-device-name new-device-name

Hope this helps you as much as it has helped me!

4 Responses to “How To Use Device-Alias on a Cisco MDS”

  1. Levi Lawson says:

    Thanks, really straight forward and to the point example.

  2. Lukasz says:


    Do you not need to add created zone VNXMYZONE to the zoneset and then activate it?
    Also when you create zone, was it not necessary to declare VSAN it should be in?

    OR is line
    zoneset name Fabric1_VSAN1 vsan 1
    allowing you to create and add members with its role (init/target) in one go?

    Kind Regards,

    • newlife007 says:

      You do not need to create a zone. That was an example of adding a newly created device-alias to a zone in a multi-initiator single target zoning configuration.
      Fabric1_VSAN1 vsan 1 is the active zoneset for the example zone. In the example I create a zone named VNXMYNAME in the Fabric1_VSAN1 vsan 1 active zoneset and assigned my initiator and target using device-alias.

  3. Mike says:

    Can I implement device-alias database on an existin configuration with acive zones without any disruption?

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