Cisco expands on its Unified Data Center Strategy

Last week Cisco rolled out its unified wire and wireless solutions to better address challenges created from BYOD initiatives during Cisco Live in London. This week it is announcing a slew of new additions to its Unified Data Center Strategy that include additions to the Nexus switch family, an expansion of Cisco ONE strategy, and a new cloud connect solution. Makes one wonder about what they will announce next week....

The overall themes of this recent announcement were around the ability to scale the network, extend the data center to the cloud, and create a more open network environment.

Let’s start with scale, and being Cisco, this part of the announcement is related to hardware. Cisco announced a new series of switches, the Nexus 6000. The high-end switch is capable of supporting 94 ports of line rate 40 GbE with only 1 microsecond of latency. To put that performance into perspective Cisco claims it can move the entire Library of Congress in just 210 seconds. Now if they could only make a switch that would actually get the Congress itself to move in a timely manner… but I digress.

The family of Nexus switches includes the 6004 and 6001 aptly named for the amount of space they require in a rack. The 6004 requires 4 rack units (RU) and packs all 94 ports of 40 Gb into that space, or if your organization isn’t at 40 Gb just yet, how about 384 ports of 10 Gb in the same dimensions. In addition to Ethernet, it will also handle Fibre Channel over Ethernet. The 6001 only requires 1 RU and will support 48 ports of line rate 10 GbE and 4 40 GbE uplinks.

Other additions to the Nexus family include a Network Analysis Module for the Nexus 7000, a 40 GbE module for the Nexus 5500, and a new 10 Gb top of rack fabric extender, the Nexus 2248PQ, with a 40 GbE uplink.

As organizations continue to consolidate data centers, now a top five IT initiative, according to ESG's 2013 IT Spending Intentions Survey, the ability to manage rapid network scale with higher density, higher capacity switches should become increasingly attractive.

The Nexus 1000v InterCloud, which as you have probably guessed leverages technology from the Nexus 1000v distributed virtual switch, will enable organizations to connect to cloud providers (mainly IaaS providers as it requires technology to be deployed on each end) quickly and securely. By leveraging the Cisco Virtual Network Management Center Intercloud, organizations can create a single policy for network services spanning the enterprise and service provider clouds.

Again, this product should be well timed as increasing use of public cloud services cracked the top ten in the aforementioned survey and 60% of the respondents indicated that they would increase their spending on public cloud services. Those looking to create secure hybrid cloud environments who are already comfortable with the Nexus 1000v technology should find this an easy transition.

The software-defined networking movement is still creating a lot of buzz as established network vendors reveal or refine their SDN strategy. Cisco is no different, and included some significant enhancements to theirs. This is definitely a step in the right direction as it serves as a proof point that they are executing against their vision. The big news is that they are giving more credibility to a controller. The initial iteration relegated the controller and one open flow enabled switch to a research sandbox. The Cisco ONE software controller appears as though it will play a more prominent role in the Cisco SDN strategy. The controller will not only support open flow, but it will also support Cisco onePK interface as well. In addition Cisco is also expanding its open flow support on its switches to include the Nexus3000, Nexus 7000, ASR 9000, and Catalyst 6500. OnePK support has been expanded to include the Nexus 3000, Nexus 7000, and ASR 9000.The controller will also have network slicing application for logical portioning and will interact with Cisco network apps for network tapping and custom forwarding.

Cisco also continued to evolve its overlay network strategy by adding Nexus 1000v support for VXLAN Gateway, Microsoft Hyper-V and integration with MSSC VM manager, and a virtual NAM for monitoring and analyzing virtual workloads.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, Cisco will roll out services to help organization understand how SDN, or rather more specifically, how CISCO ONE will help them. I anticipate this will take the form of the traditional consulting lifecycle of assess, design, deliver, and support services that will be needed in order to make this transition.

Overall, a pretty comprehensive announcement. I would have liked to have seen more about the ecosystem of partners Cisco is creating for onePK or from a northbound interface from the controller, but hey, I guess they need to have something to talk about next week….

Topics: IT Infrastructure Networking