Cisco forges mid-range Nexus switches

When it comes to Cisco Systems Inc.’s top of line Nexus data switches, some organizations find there’s too much and not enough.

Until now, network administrators have to choose between the powerful chassis-based 7000 series and the smaller 5500 series.

Today the network equipment maker introduced an in-betweener: The 6000 Lyaer 2/3 switch series, which lets organizations deploy high density 10- and 40 Gigabit Ethernet in in a relatively compact form factor.

The first two models in the series are the 6004, a 4U high density fixed switch with modular expansion slots that can pack 96 40 GbE or 384 10 GbE ports; and the 6001, which offers 48 10 GbE ports with 40 GbE uplinks.
(Cisco Nexus 6001)

The line is part of a number of new products announced by Cisco to strengthen its unified data centre strategy and help cloud-related computing, including a new version of its virtual switch and the company’s first virtual controller for software-defined networking (SDN).

The new products are aimed at helping organizations build large and dense network fabrics (the 6000 series); extend the fabric from enterprises to cloud providers with the 1000V InterCloud virtual switch; and open to programmed control with the ONE Software Controller, said Omar Sultan, Cisco’s senior marketing manager for emerging technologies.

The Nexus 6004, expected to ship soon, can support up to 75,000 virtual machines. With an optional fabric extender, it can support 1,536 GbE or 10 GbE ports. Port to port latency is 1 microsecond. It’s also programmable and contains tools for traffic and buffer management.

It’s suited for an enterprise cloud or two-tier architecture, Sultan said.

Both it and the 6001, which is expected to ship by the end of June, supports 40 GbE Fibre Channel over Ethernet for storage.

Pricing for the 6004 will range between US$40,000 and $195,000. Pricing for the 6001 is expected to start at US$48,000.

In an interview Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research said the 6000 will be appreciate by organizations that find the Nexus 7000 Series too much and the 5500 series not enough for their needs.

The new Nexus 1000V InterCloud virtual switch is a new version of the 1000V, which lets organizations extend private clouds to a public cloud service provider. The InterCloud version

Unlike the 1000V, which connects to VMware environments, the InterCloud version links to any hypervisor, so the virtual switch can now allow virtual machines from any source between an enterprise and a cloud provider.

Cisco’s VNNC management console for its virtual products has also been upgraded to an InterCloud version for moving virtual workloads.

Pricing hasn’t been announced.

Finally, long-promised Cisco ONE Software Controller will be released for sale shortly, Sultan said, with support for the OpenFlow protocol and Cisco’s onePK developer environment to connect to its switches and routers.

That’s good news for those organizations exploring software defined networking but want to stay within a Cisco environment.

A proof-of-concept version of the controller was released last summer. Initially it only supported certain Catalyst switches. Sultan said that over the year the full version will be able to connect to Nexus 3000 and 7000 series switches as well as the ASR 9000 router through OpenFlow. Support for other protocols will be added as standards bodies approve them, Sultan added.

There will also be solutions for overlay networks including the Nexus 1000V.

Finally, to encourage organizations to look into software defined networking Cisco will offer a series of open networking services, which includes workshops, proof of concepts and technical support.

Kerravala said a software controller is an alternate way of managing a network of switches by centralizing control

However, he remains sceptical that for enterprises there is a proven use case for SDN.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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