Cisco Expands Data Center Switch, Fabric Offerings

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The Cisco 7000, 5000 and 2000 series switches. Cisco unveiled new additions to its data center product line today.

Cisco Systems today announced technology innovations across its entire Data Center Business Advantage portfolio, including new products to manage and extend next-generation fabrics, and a new switch targeting the low-latency trading market. The product updates spanned the  Cisco Nexus 7000 family, Nexus 5000 family, Nexus 3000, a new ultra-low latency platform, MDS storage switches, Unified Computing System,  Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) and NX-OS, its comprehensive data center operating system.

The Cisco data center fabric vision is focused around Lifecycle Services, policy-based management and is comprised of the unified fabric, unified network services and unified computing. With the goal of handling dynamic cloud-based environments, the fabric vision supports application independence, location freedom and massive scale.

New Nexus Switches

New Cisco Nexus 5548UP and 5596UP switches improve on flexibility with Unified Port (UP) capability on all ports for these 48- and 96-port data center switches. Any port can be designated to be 1Gb Ethernet, 10Gb Ethernet, Fibre Channel (2/4/8 Gb) or FCoE (Fiber Channel over Ethernet).  They also support layer 2/3 and IEE 802.1Qbh, and are capable of supporting the Cisco FabricPath expected in the second half of 2011.  These switch models are available immediately.

The IEEE standard 802.1Qbh is for bridge port extension and is meant to reduce data center complexity by taking a port extender and attaching it “to a MAC port of an 802.1Q bridge and provide additional MAC ports that are logically ports of the 802.1Q bridge to which it is attached (i.e. the “Controlling Bridge”).”

The Nexus 3000 Series switch is aimed at low latency markets (less than 1 microsecond port to port) and is a high-density 10Gb Ethernet switch.  The 3000 series is 40GbE ready and is expected to be available in the second quarter of 2011.

Fabric Extender Offerings

Cisco also introduced 3 new additions to its FEX (Fabric EXtender technology) portfolio, all based on the IEEE 802.1Qbh emerging standard:  Adapter FEX, VM-FEX and FEX Support for Nexus 7000. New announcements for Adapter FEX include the addition of Director-class multi-hop fibre channel over Ethernet capability for the Nexus 7000 data center switch platform and the MDS 9500 storage switching platform as well as new FCoE functionality on the new Nexus 5000 switch platform.  The Cisco data center blog had an excellent, and detailed look at multi-hop FCoE recently.

VM-FEX enhancements take the Adapter FEX technology and extend it to virtual machines.  FEX capabilities on the Nexus 7000 combined with a Nexus 2232PP top-of-rack solution it offers a single point of management for up to 1,500 ports per chassis.

Workload mobility for the cloud

The Cisco unified fabric is enhanced with LISP (Location/ID Separation Protocol) and MPLS support for scaling the Internet and enabling cloud services on the Nexus 7000.  LISP is a multi-vendor IP routing and addressing architecture initiated by Cisco. With LISP a user is empowered to have a global workload mobility for the cloud by decoupling host IP identity from the host location and shifting both IP address and session with the virtual machine to the cloud.

Data center portfolio enhancements

Rounding out unified fabric enhancements is a new Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) that enables SAN, LAN and server teams to cohesively manage up to 150,000 ports, and offers tight integration with VMware vCenter for provisioning, performance, and trouble-shooting.  Showing support for legacy equipment Cisco is adding a new ACE-30 module for the Catalyst 6500 series for dynamic workload scaling with Overlay Transport Virtualization.  A new ES-40 module with 40 Gigabit line-rate performance adds high-performance Data Center Interconnect, and a new ASA Service module offers embedded firewall and security services.

Unified Compute

Highlighting the Gartner report on a quick maturation of fabric computing Cisco announced the UCS (Unified Computing System) C260 M2 rack-mount server and new versions of the UCS B230 M2, B440 M2, and C460 M2 that deliver improved virtualization performance and reduced latency, based on the next generation Intel Xeon server platform, codenamed Westmere EX.  The UCS C260 M2 offers up to 1TB of memory and 9.6TB of local storage or 16 SSD’s alternatively.vIndependent Software Vendors (ISV‟s) and partners are developing to the open Unified Computing System Application Programming Interface (API), with over 10,000 applications supported on the system today.

Additional information on partner ecosystems, proven business cases, validated designs or videos supporting the recent innovations in the DataCenter Business Advantage portfolio can be found here.

About the Author

John Rath is a veteran IT professional and regular contributor at Data Center Knowledge. He has served many roles in the data center, including support, system administration, web development and facility management.

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2 Comments

  1. Cisco has great products, high quality. It is exciting to see what they are coming out with next. Thanks for the post.