As I have blogged about numerous times, we built a new data center last year that uses Cisco Nexus switches end-to-end, including the Nexus 5000 series. It's amazing how time flies. The Nexus 5000 was released almost 2 years ago, in April 2008. We started the technical evaluation process for our next data center switches in September 2008, about 18 months ago. One of our primary requirements was 10GbE top-of-rack support since we wanted to go 10GbE right to the host level (servers and storage). At the time, our options were rather limited. The Nexus 5000 was the only top-of-rack 10GbE switch around. Other vendors would pitch their chassis switches with lots of 10GbE ports, but that didn't fit our federated data center architecture. After an extensive vendor evaluation, we chose Cisco. Flash forward to today and my rule proves again; competition is a great thing. There are now several vendors with top-of-rack 10GbE switches, many of which went through a very nice Clear Choice Test on NW.com. The overall picture: the Nexus 5000 is playing catch-up at this point. The Nexus 5000 overall score was lower than Dell's switch (ouch): Arista scored the highest and, looking at the feature comparison chart, I can see why. A good set of features, along with kick-butt performance. The Nexus 5000 also brought very good features - earning a similar 4.5 score as Arista - but was hurt by poor power and latency performance results.
Cisco's one feature all the others didn't was native FCoE support. The Nexus 5000 supports FCoE, whereas the other switches just pass it as any other Ethernet frame. So, if you need FCoE (not likely today), the Nexus 5000 is your sole option. However, at this point, Cisco has some catching up to do. I'm wondering when the Nexus 5100 series will be out? :-)
The Clear Choice Test is nicely broken down into several sections:
- Storage and Convergence
- Management and usability
- Latency and jitter
- Link aggregation
- Lies, Damned Lies and Latency
- Testing methodology
- Feature comparison chart
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