Cisco soups up data centre gear

Cisco Systems recently rolled out a pair of new switch products and an online scripting forum designed to help enterprises manage their growing data centre traffic.

The switch pieces include an eight-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10G) module for the Catalyst 6500 and the Catalyst Blade Switch 3040, designed to work with Fujitsu Siemens’ blade server gear.

Cisco’s previous 10G offering for the 6500 was a four-port module. The eight-port module features 64Gbps of traffic per slot compared to 40Gbps per slot on the four-port models. The eight-port version also supports 256MB of buffering per port, up from 16MB per port on the four-port module.

Large port buffers are particularly important in data centres because over-subscription is a common occurrence, says John Yen, senior manager of Catalyst switch marketing.

Putting more 10G ports on a line card is what will drive 10G adoption, analysts say.

“High-density 10G is important, because no one wants to use a whole slot in their switch chassis just for two or four ports of 10G,” says Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with the Yankee Group.

The Blade Switch 3040 isn’t Cisco’s first blade server switch. Cisco already has the Blade Switch 3000 series which works with blade servers from IBM, HP and Dell. The top players in the blade server market tend to vary by geography, Yen notes.

“We want to make sure we provide support for all the leading blade server vendors around the world, regardless of geography,” he says.

The scripting community, called Cisco Beyond, will allow users of Cisco data center wares to share automated scripts.

“It will be a site where customers and partners can share best practice embedded event manager scripts,” Yen says.

The community will be free to use. Anyone with a login will be able to access Cisco Beyond and post scripts, rate scripts or upload scripts.

Cisco may create more communities similar to Cisco Beyond, Yen says.

“Going forward we are looking at other ways to extend Cisco platforms so customers and partners can provide additional value.”

The eight-port modules for the Catalyst 6500 are available for US$37,000 without optics. Fibre-optic connections will cost $2,000 for SR fibre and $3,000 for SR fibre per port. The Catalyst Blade Switch 3040 costs $4,300.

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