Cisco touts the Nexus as the core of data centers

The Nexus 7000: a switch designed for mission-critical data center use.

Fulfilling its Data Center 3.0 vision for data center consolidation and virtualization, Cisco Systems this week announced the Nexus 7000, a switch designed for mission-critical data center use.

Starting at US$75,000, the Nexus 7000 will ship in the second quarter with a new advanced operating system, the Nexus Operating System (NX-OS), said Rajiv Ramaswami, vice president and general manager of the data center business unit at Cisco.

In a meeting with ASEAN journalists early this week, Ramaswami said that more than 1,500 patents were used in creating the Nexus platform, which cost Cisco more than US$1 billion in research and development.

"We see servers, storage, and networks merging into unified, virtualized systems; everything is connected to everything else," said Ramaswami. The Nexus platform, Ramaswami adds, is designed to provide all the servers in a data center with access to all networking and storage resources. It is also designed both to meet exploding demands for bandwidth and energy efficiency within data centers. And with a new management interface, the Nexus is expected to simplify the jobs of IT administrators.

The Nexus 7000 will deliver up to 15Tbps of switching capacity in a single chassis, with 512 ports for 10Gbps Ethernet, Ramaswami said.

The NX-OS combines advanced virtualization capabilities in a single operations system that has a familiar IOS interface. Berni Trudel, head of technology for data center at Cisco, said that virtualization also allows hosting providers or multiple administrators to partition functions so that each administrator can work in his own switching environment. All would use a single switching fabric and set of redundant power supplies, which provides benefits in performance, economies of scale and resiliency. Failures in a network can be detected and NX-OS will then enable a restart without an overall service disruption.

Nexus 7000 also incorporates Cisco Trusted Security for the first time to integrate identity- and role-based security across data centers. Also, a new Data Center Network Manager is designed to give administrators visual information that will improve efficiency and awareness. "The data center network manager provides end-to-end visibility across data center networks," said Ramaswami.

Ramaswami said that the unified fabric and I/O interfaces, the Cisco Nexus switching platforms, the NX-OS operating system, and the data center network manager are the components that are going to be critical for the next-generation data center.

To prepare for the deployment of Nexus in data centers across Asia Pacific, Andre Smit, APAC managing director for data centers, said that Cisco has embarked on a campaign to train its partners and customers. "It has been a 6-month educational journey," said Smit.

The Catalyst

Cisco also unveiled a 16-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet module for the Catalyst 6500 Series Switch, which can help reduce power consumption by up to 50 per cent per port, Cisco said. Pricing was not disclosed; the new module ships in the second quarter.

"The Catalyst and the Nexus will complement each other," said Ramaswami. He said the Catalyst is ideal for campus networks and low-density data centers, while the Nexus is for high-density data centers that can deliver 10Gbps Ethernet.

Cisco also touted a new Catalyst 6509 Enhanced Vertical Chassis, which will support 80Gbps speeds per slot, sells for US$9,995 and is available now. It announced a new Catalyst 4900M Series two-rack unit switch for rack-server aggregation. And it introduced a new Catalyst Blade Switch, which will be made available through Dell Computer and possibly other companies to allow up to eight switches to be managed as one virtual switch.

Pricing and availability for both products was not announced.

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