Nexus 5000: Next Step in Data Center 3.0 Push

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Cisco Systems (CSCO) continued its push into the data center today, introducing the Nexus 5000 switch as the next step in data center consolidation using a unified network fabric that can connect ties together servers, storage and I/O. The Nexus 5000 is the end result of Cisco’s investment in Nuova, a startup founded by former Cisco executives.

As part of today’s announcements at its Partner Summit 2008 in Hawaii, Cisco said it would acquire the 20 percent of Nuova it doesn’t already own.

FCoE Provides Unified Fabric

Like the Nexus 7000 switch unveiled in January, the Nexus 5000 series runs Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), an emerging protocol that can connect LAN-based servers with Fibre Channel storage networks, creating a flexible high-speed data center infrastructure. Cisco is positioning the Nexus 5000 as a tool to virtualize data center assets over a unified fabric running on 10 Gigabit Ethernet. The new switch is currently being tested by Savvis (SVVS), the IT infrastructure

The use of Fibre Channel over Ethernet offers the potential to reduce the number of interface connections on each server, eliminating the need for separate connections for Ethernet and Fibre Channel, a protocol that is widely used in storage area networks (SANs). This would result in fewer cables, adapters and switches, which in turn would reduce power consumption. It will also allow greater portability for virtual machines within the data center.

Savvis Cites Benefits

Savvis is among the Cisco partners using the Nexus 5000 switching platform. “We believe the benefits to Savvis of a unified fabric are multifold, including the ability to provide our customers with a higher quality of service as well as total cost of ownership reduction within our data center operations,” said Bryan Doerr, chief technology officer of Savvis. “The Cisco Nexus 5000’s ability to deliver this unified fabric today makes it an attractive platform for us and we are actively evaluating it.”

Other partners working with Cisco to support a unified fabric featuring the Nexus 5000 Series include 3PAR Data, APC, Broadcom, Dell, EMC, Emulex, Intel, NetApp, Netxen, Panduit, QLogic, and VMware.

The company also announced a training and certification process for channel partners to support the new products.

“Cisco and its channel partners are uniquely positioned to lead the transformation of the data center into an agile and efficient network that revolutionizes how our customers adopt new IT strategies and respond to changing business needs,” said Edison Peres, vice president of worldwide channels at Cisco. “With a full portfolio of data center solutions, channel programs and enhanced financial incentives through Data Center VIP, we are helping to create extraordinary opportunities for our partners to accelerate their growth, differentiation and profitability.”

The Cisco Nexus 5000 Series is scheduled to be available in May. Pricing starts at $36,000 for the fixed configuration 40-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch.

“We have the right product, people, partnerships, and now with our new incentive programs even partner profitability is being addressed as well,” writes Cisco data center marketing manager Doug Gourlay. “This product delivers on the promise of Unified Fabrics, and introduces a new concept – Cisco Data Center Ethernet. A series of standards-based extensions to existing Ethernet, that when combined enable data to be forwarded in a lossless fashion. Just like FibreChannel. This enables a new series of protocols like FibreChannel over Ethernet, that drive the next phase of convergence.”

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.