Cisco Continues Data Center Vision With New Switch, Updates

Keeping with its Data Center 3.0 theme, Cisco Systems Monday unveiled a new data center switching infrastructure to help the network transition to become more services-centric.

The Nexus 7000 Series takes queues from the various demands on next-generation data centers, introducing virtualization and keeping an eye toward going green. The switching platform combines Ethernet, IP and storage across one unified network fabric.

Doug Gourlay, Cisco's director of data center solutions, said 33 percent of Cisco's business is in the data center. The release of Nexus 7000 creates several opportunities for resellers who sell into that space as their customers consolidate disparate parallel networks and the data center together. Gourlay said Nexus 7000 gives VARs the opportunity to capture that market transition and capitalize on the fundamental change to Ethernet.

"The data center is the heart of enterprise IT," he said. "It's the last thing [a reseller's] customers are likely to stop investing in."

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Gourlay said along with the Nexus 7000 Series, which will be Cisco's flagship data center-class switching platform and be available in10-slot and 18-slot form factors, the San Jose, Calif.-based vendor also released the data center operating system, the Cisco Nexus Operating System (NX-OS) and the Cisco Data Center Networking Manager.

According to Gourlay, the Nexus 7000 is the first in a line of data center switching solutions. He said the Nexus 7000 is a highly scalable modular platform that offers 15 terabits per second of switching capacity in a single chassis, supports up to 512 10 Gbps Ethernet and in the future will deliver 40 and 100 Gbps Ethernet. Cisco said Nexus 7000 performs fast enough to download 90,000 Netflix movies in just less than 39 seconds or send a high-resolution two megapixel photo to everyone on earth in 28 minutes.

Nexus 7000, Gourlay said, also cuts power consumption in the data center by around 8 percent, fueling the shift to green IT, an area that has become a concern for companies and resellers alike. That power savings could ultimately save $20 million over the life of the data center.

The architecture is a unified fabric which combines Ethernet and storage capabilities in one platform, designed to give all servers access to all network and storage resources, opening the doors for data center consolidation and virtualization. In the future the fabric will include unified I/O interfaces and Fibre Channel over Ethernet. Creating data centers based on a unified fabric eliminates the need for parallel storage and computational networks, reducing the overall number of server interfaces and significantly reducing the cabling and switching infrastructure required. A unified fabric also lets users move to higher-density server form factors.

Add in virtualization, and resellers will be able to offer more efficient and sustainable data centers. The Nexus 7000 architecture is built around the lossless unified fabric that can simultaneously forward storage, Ethernet and IP traffic. The fabric scales linearly with each fabric module and is logically partitioned for efficient unicast and multicast traffic, making it suited for video as well as collaboration applications.

Gourlay said the Nexus 7000 is designed with improved airflow, integrated cable management and a resilient platform architecture. The data plane is fully distributed and, when coupled with the NX-OS, it can enable zero service disruption during upgrades on production systems.

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NX-OS, Gourlay said, is the heart of the Nexus 7000 series. NX-OS combines Cisco's SAN-OS, Layer 2 switching and Layer 3 routing protocols and advanced virtualization into one operation system with an interface similar to Cisco IOS.

Some key features of NX-OS include zero service-disruption upgrades, virtual device contexts, graceful systems operations and XML interfaces to access switching information or any command. If a failure is detected, NX-OS policies enable a stateful process restart without service disruption. The modular design provides fault containment and automatic recover so processes can be started, stopped and upgraded remotely.

That remote access gives resellers the tools to manage data centers remotely, Gourlay said, and helps them hit and maintain SLAs.

Along with the Nexus 7000 Series and NX-OS, Cisco also released the Cisco Data Center Network Manager (DCNM), a solution that gives visibility across data center networks. Built on Cisco's Fabric Manager for storage networks, DCNM offers topology discovery and virtualization for efficiency and systems awareness. Nexus 7000 management interfaces are compatible with Cisco VFrame Data Center, an orchestration platform that uses network intelligence to provision resources together as virtualized services. VFrame Data Center will be a key enabler for services orchestration on the Nexus platform.

The Nexus 7000 Series is also Cisco's first platform to deliver <"a href="\\>Cisco Trusted Security (TrustSec), an architecture announced last month that ties together identity- and role-based security across data centers to enforce trusted traffic segmentation without the need for complex address models and unmanageable access control lists. TrustSec enables virtual machine mobility throughout the data center for data integrity with a wire-rate AES-128 encryption implementation on every port of the Nexus 7000.

According to Cisco, the Nexus 7000 series starts at $75,000 and is available for order now. It is expected to be generally available in the second quarter of 2008. Cisco is also offering lease rates as low as 3.99 APR for the Nexus 7000 through Cisco Capital.

Cisco on Monday also announced updates to its Catalyst switching line, releasing a data-center optimized 16-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet Module that provides up to 130 ports of 10 GigE per Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series switch and 260 ports per Catalyst 6500 Virtual Switching System. The module, Cisco said, reduces power consumption by up to 50 percent per port. Cisco also introduced the Catalyst 6509 Enhanced Vertical Chassis (V-E) with nine vertical slots with front-to-back airflow. As part of the Catalyst 6500-E Series Switches, the Catalyst 6509 V-E can support up to 80 Gbps per slot. IT also supports Cisco's Catalyst 6500 Supervisor Engine 720 and 32 families along with associated LAN, WAN and service modules.

Cisco also released a high-performance top-of-rack switch, the Catalyst 4900M Series for data center rack-server aggregation. The 4900M offers up to 40 10/100/1000 ports or 24 10 GigE ports to offer 320 Gbps and 250 million packets per second. The 4900M, Cisco said, will ease migration to 10 GigE.

Lastly, Cisco announced that the Catalyst Blade Switches will be available through Dell Computer to offer consistent security, high availability and quality of service with GigE performance from the server edge out to clients at the network edge. On the Catalyst Blade Switch, also announced the addition of Virtual Blade Technology (VBS) that can allow up to eight switches be managed with as one logical switch. VBS technology offers 160 Gbps upstream performance while doubling bandwidth to a server at the same time.

"With its Data Center 3.0 vision, Cisco is transforming the data center into a virtualized environment that revolutionizes how organizations adopt new IT strategies and quickly respond to changing business needs," said Jayshree Ullal, senior vice president of Cisco's Data Center, Switching and Services Group, in a statement. "The Cisco Nexus 7000 Series is the result of significant and pioneering internal innovation. Combined with the 10 Gigabit Ethernet portfolio that the flagship Catalyst 6500 Series offers, Cisco provides customers with a smooth migration into a new era of data center networking."