Networking Vendors Roll Out Data Center Gear

A handful of high-profile networking vendors are digging their heels deeper into the data center, a market that offers solution providers a crack at the $14 billion in hardware and services opportunity the data center is expected to offer over the next few years. Traditional networking vendors like Cisco Systems, ProCurve Networking by HP and Juniper Networks are targeting the data center now more than ever before, promising to ease virtualization and consolidation efforts. Here's a roundup of key data center networking solutions recently added to networking vendors' product lineups.

Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Switch

The first data center networking switch to come out of Cisco's Data Center 3.0 vision was the Nexus 7000 series. Debuting in January of 2008, the Nexus 7000 Switch is designed for 10 Gigabit Ethernet networks and is built to handle the needs of a data center on a day-to-day basis.

Currently, the Nexus 7000 Series, which runs Cisco's NX-OS data center operating system, can scale beyond 15 Tb per second with capabilities to handle 40 Gb and 100 Gb Ethernet and unified fabric input/output modules. Cisco has said the Nexus 7000 can perform fast enough to download 90,000 Netflix movies in less than 39 seconds or send a high-resolution, two-megapixel photo to everyone on Earth in 28 minutes. Cisco also says the Nexus 7000 can cut power consumption in the data center by around 8 percent.

Following up the release of the Nexus 7000 Series, Cisco unveiled the Nexus 5000 Series data center switch line. The first switch in the 5000 series was the Nexus 5020 Server Access Switch, a two-rack unit device that includes a 56-port Layer 2 switch with 40 ports of 10-Gigabit Ethernet/Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) with Power over Ethernet as well as two expansion slots.

This week, Cisco added the Nexus 7018 switch (shown here at left) to the 7000 series. The 7018 is an 18-slot chassis that offers up to 16 input/output module slots to support up to 768 Gigabit Ethernet and 512, 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports for large data centers. The 7018 doubles the capacity of the 7010 and is designed for the requirements of highly scaled 10 Gigabit Ethernet networks in mission-critical data centers. The modular switch can deliver continuous system operation and virtualized, pervasive services.

Cisco also added a new 48-port Gigabit Ethernet fibre line card to the Nexus family that can support mixed Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Ethernet environments.

As part of the Nexus 5000 Series, Cisco this month unveiled the 28-port, one-rack unit Nexus 5010 Switch. The switch supports 10 Gigabit Ethernet, Cisco Data Center Ethernet, Fibre Channel over Ethernet and Fibre Channel. The 5010 can consolidate traffic from LANs, SANs and server clusters into one fabric and uses half the capacity of the larger 5020 switch.

Along with rolling out two other new Nexus switches this week, Cisco unveiled the Nexus 2000 Series Fabric Extenders. The 2148T Fabric Extenders (shown here) can support up to 2,496 Gigabit Ethernet servers when connected to dual Cisco Nexus 5030 Switches, ultimately boosting the scalability of the access layer without creating more management points within the network.

The top-of-rack Fabric Extenders, combined with the Nexus 5000 Series, offer an access-layer strategy for Gigabit Ethernet and mixed Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Ethernet server environments.

The Nexus 2000 Series Fabric Extenders feature a "rack and roll" design that eases deployment. Once deployed, it downloads software and is managed as an extension of the switches it's connected to.

Late last year, Juniper joined the data center networking gang with the announcement of its Data Center Infrastructure Solutions offering, a data center network architecture that combines the EX 4200 virtual chassis switch, the SRX security solution, the EX 8200 data center switch (shown here) for 10 Gigabit Ethernet and the MX Ethernet series router to connect across data centers. Juniper's data center focus is designed to aid in data center consolidation and server virtualization.

Juniper said its data center design is capable of passing 120 million packets per second per line card with minimal latency, while each line card has 320 Gbps of capacity. The EX 8200, which will be powering the data center, comes in 8- and 16-slot models, the 8208 and 8216, respectively.

Juniper says its Data Center Infrastructure Solutions play can reduce network complexity and total cost of ownership by up to 52 percent in capital expenditures, up to 44 percent in power consumption, up to 44 percent in cooling and up to 55 percent in rack space in the data center compared to legacy architectures. Juniper's data center approach centers around JUNOS, its network operating system for switching, routing and security technologies.

The combination of the EX, MX and SRX series products consolidates services and data center switching layers, resulting in capital cost savings. Juniper's virtual chassis technology in the EX 4200 series Ethernet switches (shown here), combined with line-rate 10 Gigabit Ethernet performance on its chassis-based gear, can reduce the number of interswitch links and the amount of equipment required in the data center by up to half. The chassis-based products include the EX 8200 series Ethernet switches and current MX-series Ethernet Services Routers with advanced layer 2 and 3 network virtualization.

ProCurve Networking by HP this week unveiled its first dedicated data center products, a solution set that comprises five high-density, top-of-rack Gigabit and 10 Gigabit server edge switches optimized for the data center.

The 6600 series includes two 24-port Gig switches, the 6600-24G and the 6600-24G-4XG; two 48-port Gig switches, the 6600-48G and 6600-48G-4XG; and one 10-Gig, 24-port switch, the 6600-24XG.

Shown here is the ProCurve 6600-24G-4XG, which offers 24 Gigabit ports and four 10 Gigabit ports to provide 101 Gbps of fabric capacity and 74 Mpps of throughput. A 48-port model, the ProCurve 6600-48G-4XG, also is available.

Each switch in the 6600 series is based on the fourth generation of ProCurve's ProVision ASIC network chipset. The series offers front-to-back reversible airflow, power-efficient hardware and software features and redundant power.

Shown here is the ProCurve Switch 6600-24XG, a full 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch that offers 24 ports of 10 Gigabit Ethernet with 336 Gbps of fabric capacity and 214 Mpps of throughput.

All of the 6600 series switches offer two internal power supplies and include one hot-swappable power supply.

As part of its data center rollout, ProCurve also released the ProCurve Data Center Connection Manager (shown here), a software solution that offers automated policy-based provisioning of network and server resources. The ProCurve Data Center Connection Manager formalizes common data center workflow activities without organization disruption; eases compliance and troubleshooting in a virtualized, complex environment; and works with multivendor server and network environments. The management software is designed to bridge the server and network administration teams.