Nexus Gaining Traction in Managed Hosting

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One year into its push into the data center, Cisco Systems (CSCO) says its Data Center 3.0 products are gaining traction with managed hosting providers and even Wall Street trading firms, a vertical Cisco is working to cultivate with technology to support low-latency trading. 

Cisco’s ambitions in the data center are built around the network, with its Nexus family of next-generation switches providing the horsepower to manage virtualize data center assets over a unified fabric running on 10 Gigabit Ethernet. More than 250 customers are now using Nexus technology, Cisco reported.

“Despite the tough economy, we are very much in line with expectations,” said Rajiv Ramaswami, general manager of Cisco’s Data Center Switching Technology Group. “The architecture is absolutely being adopted.”

The Nexus family rolled out in early 2008 with the debut of the Nexus 7000 in January and the Nexus 5000in April. Managed hosting providers using Nexus include Terremark Worldwide, The Planet, Savvis Inc. and RagingWire’s StrataScale managed hosting service.

Cisco executives say Nexus switches are also attracting interest on Wall Street. “There are trading firms in New York that are using the Nexus platform,” said Dante Malagrino, director of product marketing for Data Center Emerging Technology at Cisco. “Many customers are looking at 10 Gigabit Ethernet in high performance computing clusters, particularly on Wall Street. The biggest problem they face is the need for end-to-end latency. They were using different technology, like Infiniband, but now they are intrigued with 10 Gigabit Ethernet.”

Cisco has customized a Nexus Ethernet-based high performance computing solution for financial traders, which uses Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) accelerators to reduce latency within nodes. RDMA allows data to move directly from the memory of one computer into that of another without involving either one’s operating system. The RDMA solution was developed with Wombat Financial, a software unit of NYSE Euronext.

Here’s an overview of Cisco customers using Nexus and their implementations:

  • The Planet, which hosts 14.5 million web sites, is using Nexus technology to upgrade the network supporting its seven data centers. “With the Nexus 5000, we cost-effectively upgraded to 10 Gigabit Ethernet, and decreased bandwidth cost per server by 30 percent,” said William Charnock, vice president of technology at The Planet.
  • Terremark (TMRK) is using both the Nexus 5000 and 7000 platforms to support its managed hosting offerings. “We selected Nexus because the product is specifically designed to meet the requirements of data centers, scales to industry-leading 15 terabits per second, delivers significant performance and density for continuous system operations, and will support emerging protocols to prepare for migration to a unified fabric in the data center,” said Bill Williams, a Senior IP Architect with Terremark. “We’ve also been beta testing Cisco’s newly annnounced 48-port blade for the Nexus 7000, offering 10 Gigabit port densities, which we are evaluating for deployment to support our Internet exchange point application.”
  • StrataScale is using the Nexus 7000 to suport its new IronScale managed hosting service, which requires exceptional uptime. “The Cisco Nexus 7000 delivers unparalleled 10Gigabit Ethernet port density, reliability, and performance that enable our IronScale environment to stay on the cutting edge,” said Denoid Tucker, senior director of engineering for StrataScale.
  • Yahoo Japan has adopted the Nexus 700 as the core switch for its new data center, taking advantage of its virtualization capabilities to quickly add capacity during periods of increased demand. Yahoo Japan provides 140 online services and receives more than 1.4 billion page views a day. “The Cisco Nexus 7000 provides a smooth transition between our Cisco Catalyst switches and the Nexus platform, while we also improve scalability, availability and performance,” said Yahoo Japan CTO and Senior Manager of Supervising Division, Tetsuya Nishimaki. “As we look to the future, we now also gain advanced data center capabilities such as virtualization and a unified fabric, key factors to support our company’s growth and business.”
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology has deployed the Nexus platform to “virtualize our data center and to consolidate numerous departmental data centers throughout the campus,” said Theresa Regan, director of operations and infrastructure services for MIT. “We gained 10Gb Ethernet performance, and reduced cost by conserving space, power and cooling.”
  • The law firm McDermott Will & Emery designed its new data center around the capabilities offered by the Nexus platform. ““We were building out a brand new data center from scratch and decided to move into the new unified fabric technology and a 10Gb Ethernet network architecture to prepare for our upcoming Virtual Desktop Infrastructure implementation,” says Edward Carroll, Network Architect at McDermott Will & Emery. “What we wanted was a smaller footprint and increased performance, along with the ability to virtualize and consolidate using blade servers and the Nexus 5000.”

Rajiv Ramaswami, general manager of Cisco’s Data Center Switching Technology Group, cited the StrataScale deployment as an example of a smooth transition from Cisco’s Catalyst switches to the Nexus 5000 series. “They went live less than 2 weeks after they got the boxes in house,” he said.

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.

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