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Cisco Switches 10G, Makes Play For Data Centers

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Cisco is getting really serious about data centers. Today, Cisco is announcing Nexus 7000 Series switching platform that is focused on what San Jose-based Cisco has dubbed Data Center 3.0. The company also added new products to its Catalyst line of switches.

Both Nexus and Catalyst 6500 are capable of handling data at speeds of 10 Gigabit per second. The new Catalyst Blade Switch, features a new technology called the Virtual Blade Switch (VBS) technology that allows up to eight switches to be managed as one logical switch for reduced infrastructure complexity.

The company also announced a new data center specific software OS that tries to combine storage networks, routing, switching and virtualization that has Cisco IOS interface. What Cisco is essentially trying to do is eliminate the need for separate storage and computing networks, combing them into one unified fabric and managing it through NX-OS. Tom Edsall, Cisco’s Data Center CTO tells Dan Farber:

“Three or four years ago a team of 50 architects said ‘how can be build something that transcends all silos, an fabric that can deal with real-time, latency, Ethernet and IP,’ ….There is a massive trend toward virtualization, and we wanted the equivalent of a hypervisor for the network so you can have multiple instances of networking across a single fabric.”

Cisco, according to Edsall spent around $250 million on this Nexus platform, which will be available in second quarter 2008. It is hard to tell how the market will react to these new offerings. Still there is no denying that Cisco is making the right bet on what seems to be a long cycle of data center upgrades.

As more and more of our lives become digital, the data centers become critical hubs (or factories) and they need an underlying infrastructure to support not only today’s but tomorrow’s demands. Corporations, for instance are not going to put their software-on-demand solutions on a pokey infrastructure built with technologies that came to the forefront in the dying days of the 1990s bubble.

Recommended Reading: Information Week on Cisco’s data center strategy.

In somewhat related news: While Cisco is making a pitch for the data center, Juniper is expected to soon announce a new LAN switch, that is going to be announced along side a partnership with a large enterprise hardware maker, according to Nikos Theodosopoulos, analyst with UBS Research.

6 Responses to “Cisco Switches 10G, Makes Play For Data Centers”

  1. Fazal:

    While I agree that “virtualization” is ridiculously overused, there is actually something to it in this case. The Nexus platform supports something called Virtual Device Contexts. Essentially, NX-OS provides hypervisor like functionally to host multiple logical switches on the physical platform. This ability to support fully independent switches offers the same types of benefits you might expect from server virtualization including improved utilization, fault containment, and the ability to run disparate environments (i.e. production and dev) on the same hardware.

  2. The (mis)use of the “virtualization” is just blather to doll up the product intro. Virtualization software like VMWare is perfectly capable of virtualizing one physical LAN connection into multiple virtual LAN interfaces, any switch can support that. Better NICs like Sun’s Crossbow make the process more efficient, but once again that is completely transparent to the network.

    The big news is the core switching fabric upgrade. The Catalyst 6500 has been upgraded over time from its original 8Gbps per line card limit, but is clearly on its last legs, and increasingly hoary compared to products from Foundry or Force10. The Nexus removes the core switching bottleneck, but also removes the advanced routing, server acceleration or security functionality in the 6500 line that is the main justification for its premium pricing.