In the context of this document, a port is the connection from a device into the SAN. Each node in the SAN, such as a host, a storage device, or a fabric component has one or more ports that connect it to the SAN. Ports are identified in a number of ways.

WWPN (World Wide Port Name)

A globally unique identifier for a port that allows certain applications to access the port. The FC switches discover the WWPN of a device or host and assign a port address to the device.

Port_ID (or port address)

Within a SAN, each port has a unique port ID that serves as the FC address for the port. This unique ID enables routing of data through the SAN to that port. The FC switches assign the port ID when the device logs in to the fabric. The port ID is valid only while the device is logged on.

When N-Port ID Virtualization (NPIV) is used, a single FC HBA port (N-port) can register with the fabric by using several WWPNs. This method allows an N-port to claim multiple fabric addresses, each of which appears as a unique entity. When ESXi hosts use a SAN, these multiple, unique identifiers allow the assignment of WWNs to individual virtual machines as part of their configuration.