Cisco Steps Up Its Data Center 3.0 Rollout

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Cisco Systems (CSCO) is expanding its Nexus series of switches, as it continues its rollout of products to help enterprises transition to virtualized next-generation data centers. 

Today’s announcements don’t include Cisco’s new blade server, which is still in the pipeline. But the new products in the Data Center 3.0 initiative – which include two new switches and a network fabric extender – intensify Cisco’s focus on gaining mindshare and market share in the data center. 

To document its progress, the Cisco has revealed some of the more than 250 customers using the Nexus series routers, including leading managed hosting firms and Yahoo Japan. It also continued to fill out its product line with three new hardware offerings, and introduced technology to track and manage the energy use of IP devices. Here’s an overview of today’s announcements:

  • The Nexus 7018 switch, which expands the Cisco 7000 series with a massive 18-slot chassis supporting up to 512 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports to meet the demands of the largest data centers. The 7018 features power supplies with 90 percent efficiency and variable speed fans.
  • The Nexus 5010 is a 28-port rack-based switch offers a 1U switch supporting 10 Gigabit Ethernet, offering a smaller form factor than the 2U Nexus 5020. 
    The Nexus 2000 Fabric Extender is designed to help IT managers cope with growing data centers, offering a rack-top solution that extends the capabilities of the larger Nexus switches.
  • Cisco also announced enhancements that allow customers to use the Catalyst 6500 as a virtualized service node.
  • The company also introduced Energy Wise technology that will track energy use by IP devices connected to Catalyst switches. Energy Wide will launch with support for phones, video surveillance devices and wireless access points, but has a roadmap for eventually tracking the energy use of PCs, laptops, printers, and building systems like HVAC and security.

“We continue to expand their ability to build larger networks, which will support virtual machine mobility,” said Rajiv Ramaswami, VP/GM of Cisco’s Data Center Switching Technology Group. “A lot of the virtualization capabilities in the Nexus 700 are being used to consolidate switches and create isolation among virtual switches.”

While big-pipe next-generation technologies are sexy, the ability consolidate several physical switches into virtual switches in a single larger chassis offers cost savings to data center managers seeking to do more with less. 

“In this current economic climate, IT organizations are especially pressed to continue innovating while cutting costs and increasing efficiency,” said Joe Skorupa, Research VP, Enterprise Network Services and Infrastructure at Gartner. “CIOs and IT managers are particularly looking at technologies that protect their existing IT investments, offer a fast ROI, and provide a transition path to future technology advances with real benefits.

Cisco’s Data Center 3.0 vision was unveiled as an initiative to create a unified networking fabric in the data center built atop Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). Cisco is now extending its vision to cloud computing, and seeing its networking gear and technologies enabling an “InterCloud” in which virtual machines move seamlessly between federated cloud computing platforms.

While many Cisco customers are adopting the Nexus series, a far larger group of customers still rely on the Catalyst 6500, which will continue to be a key component of Cisco’s architecture going forward.

“As we talk about virtual machine mobility in the data center, we’re aware that the majority of servers today are connected to a Catalyst infrastructure,” said Ramaswami. “That’s why the Catalyst continues to evolve in tandem with the Nexus family.
We have a rich roadmap ahead for the Catalyst 6500, and are going to bring these (Nexus) capabilities down into the Catalyst family as well.”

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief 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.

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