Cisco Intros Tech To Accelerate Data Center And Cloud Deployments

Cisco on Wednesday unveiled new networking and virtualization technology the company said will increase the flexibility of data centers as customers continue to build future IT infrastructures based on virtualization and the cloud.

Cisco introduced new hardware and software to improve data center scalability and performance, increase application performance, and ease data center deployment at its CiscoLive! conference, held this week in Las Vegas.

The new technologies are aimed at helping customers transform their data centers to overcome three primary challenges, said Shashi Kiran, marketing manager for Cisco data center solutions.

The first is the need to virtualize more of the data center to reduce cost and complexity while increasing customers' need to have more agile infrastructures, Kiran said. But virtualization comes at a price. "It can have a major impact on network performance," she said.

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The second challenge is the increasing complexity of applications running on data center networks and their potential impact on performance, Kiran said.

The third is the need to provide customers with data center uptime assurance and security when they deliver services to their internal and external customers, she said.

To address those challenges, Cisco on Wednesday introduced the Cisco FabricPath, a virtual networking technology that combines the high degree of scalability and ability to converge multiple networks of Layer 3 networking with the ease-of-use and lower costs of Layer 2 networking, Kiran said.

Layer 3 networking controls the variable length data sequences for data sent via one or more networks, while Layer 2 controls the transfer of data between adjacent network nodes in a WAN or between nodes on the same LAN.

Cisco FabricPath will impact how people build large, scalable networks, especially in high-performance computing and cloud environments, said Nikhil Kelshikar, marketing product manager for Cisco Nexus 7000 Solutions.

FabricPath brings Layer 3 concepts to Layer 2 networking per a new standard called TRILL, or Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links, Kelshikar said.

"The TRILL standard is expected to be formalized in late 2010 or early 2011," he said. "We want to get this technology out so customers can start building scalable networks. With FabricPath, customers can deploy applications anywhere in their data centers using any Nexus switch."

Next: Helping Customers Get To The Cloud

Cisco on Wednesday also unveiled the Cisco Nexus 7000 F-series I/O module, a new line card for its Nexus switches which adds 32 1-Gbit Ethernet or 10-Gbit Ethernet ports for server access and aggregation, Kelshikar said.

The new F-series module fits in all Nexus 7000 switches. "This is all about investment protection," he said.

The modules are priced about $1,000 per 10-Gbit Ethernet port, and are expected to ship this Summer.

Also new from Cisco are additions to its Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) line of services for accelerating application traffic over a WAN.

The new services include the ability to deploy WAAS in branch offices via certain models of Cisco's Integrated Services Router G2 and optimize Web applications for deploying them in a data center or hosting them in the cloud. Other new services improve the access of Windows server applications from a data center and the cloud and ease the deployment of mobile applications on cloud infrastructures, Kelshikar said.

Cisco also introduced a new networking switch, the Catalyst 4948E, which fits up to 48 Ethernet and Gbit Ethernet ports in a 1U chassis with a 100-percent higher uplink capability and a 30-percent improvement in switch fabric throughput compared to existing switches, he said.

The Catalyst 4948E is already available, and priced starting at $10,995.

Also new are Cisco Cloud Enablement Services, which provide strategy, planning, design, and implementation of data center technology to help customers take advantage of cloud computing, Kelshikar said.

"We are helping customers understand their needs, find the right architecture, and customize as needed to get to the cloud," he said.