Cisco expands Nexus fabric portfolio

In the past nine months, a number of network equipment makers including Hewlett-Packard Co.Juniper Networks and Brocade Communications have made major data centre fabric announcements.

To some degree, that has left Cisco Systems Inc., which was first to market with its FabricPath strategy, in the shadows.

It made up for that on Tuesday by revealing second generation capabilities of its Nexus series of switches, around which FabricPath is based, as well as adding more hardware to the lineup.

“We’re really extending the lead we have in terms of addressing the scale questions of customers, whether it be physical, virtual or cloud,” said Craig Huitema, Cisco’s director of marketing for data centre solutions.

The additions will allow customers to scale their data centres to meet the needs of cloud or service providers, social media Web sites or heavy volume financial stock trading houses, he said.

The additions include:

—For the Nexus 7010 and 7018 switches in the data centre core is the Layer2/3 F2 series line card, which at forty-eight 10 GbEthernet ports doubles the density of the first generation card. And draws only 9 watts per port. It will retail for US$1,200 a port.

Joining it is the Fabric 2 module, which delivers 550 Gbps per slot. In a Nexus 7018 that means a total of 768 10GbE ports.

–The nine-slot Nexus 7009, whose height is the same as a Catalyst 6509 switch, to meet the demands of customers who want a 7000-series switch in a smaller size in a data centre or campus core.

The 7009 can hold up to 336 10GbE ports with F2 and Fabric 2 cards.

–For the top of rack, the Nexus 5500 now supports FabricPath software. The change means Cisco can build even bigger fabrics, Huitema said. With the optional FEX adapter and VM-FEX capabilities, a 5500 can support thousands of virtual machines, Cisco said. The company says it also extends the scalability of the Nexus 2000 Fabric Extender technology to network interface cards and virtual machines.

–As for the four-member 2000 line, it has been broadened with the 2248TP-E switch which has larger buffers for customers who need to extend the Flex architecture in the to handle special workloads such as streaming video.

–Two new Nexus 3000 switches, the 3048, with 48 ports of 1 GbE, and the 3016, with 16 ports of 10 or 40 GbE. Huitema said these are aimed at niche markets with specific requirements, such as brokerage houses with high frequency trading that need low latency.

–Finally, for securing virtual environments, there’s the ASA 1000V firewall, which integrates with the 1000V software switch.

Cisco is still the leading network equipment maker, but in a number of categories it has come under increasing pressure. Now it is fighting back with pointed remarks about competitors that it usually doesn’t make

 “If you look at some of the competitive offerings out there we have a pretty significant head start in being able to deliver these types of solutions to customers,” Huitema.

For example, he said some competitors – including Hewlett-Packard and Brocade, can only deliver fabric solutions that scale up to 3,840 10 GbE servers. Juniper can scale up to 6,144 10GbE servers, he said, while Cisco, with its latest 7000-series line cards, can offer up to 12,288 servers.

The numbers couldn’t be verified at press time.

“What.Cisco is doing is far beyond the concept (of data centre fabric),” he said. “These are real solutions that are operating in real data centres, and that’s a little different than what some competitors are touting at the moment.”
Zeus Kerravala of ZK Research notes that all equipment makers boast about how big their fabrics can scale. But, he said, “frankly, we don’t know how big any of them can get because we’re still in early deployments.” The market for data centre and enterprise-wide fabrics is “wide open” right now, he said. The winners and losers will be manufacturers who can show their solutions have value through customers and case studies.
As for Tuesday’s announcements from Cisco, the $1,200 price per port on the 7000 series with the new line cards “is pretty attractive.” He believes that’s low enough to take the market from early to general adoption.

Related Download
Real-time visibility Sponsor: Interactive Intelligence
Real-time visibility
Get real-time visibility in the contact centre. See immediate benefits. Real-time visibility in the contact centre is crucial. When you do not have the info you need to make decisions, you lose out on the single best way to create a competitive advantage. Solving this issue is simple, though.
Register Now