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Cisco's Nexus 9000, ACI strategy

Not only to restructure the data center, but remove competitive obstructions

By Jim Duffy on Tue, 10/08/13 - 3:07pm.

Cisco has four strategic imperatives for its Nexus 9000 data center product and its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) focus: attack VMware/Nicira's software-intensive network virtualization technique; combat the "white box" merchant silicon-based commodity switching trend buttressed by software-defined networking (SDN) and popular among webscale companies like Google and Facebook; enter or stimulate growth in markets where it is not already present or strong - like storage, security and Layer 4-7 services - by virtualizing those functions or converging them with routers and switches; and kill the momentum of upstart Arista Networks in high-frequency financial trading and low latency switching environments.

The first three are summed up nicely in this Seeking Alpha post by consultant and financial analyst Nikos Theodosopoulos. He and we expect Cisco to unveil the Nexus 9000 line, the Insieme Networks-developed hardware foundation of its ACI anti-SDN, November 6 in New York.

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Cisco has already expounded on the drawbacks of SDNs and the benefits of a physical/virtual hybrid like ACI. And the competitive stakes for Cisco have been well-documented as well.

But Theodosopoulos also explains that Cisco is coming at this whole SDN thing as VMware did in server virtualization years ago. VMware focused on server virtualization from the server, naturally; Cisco is basing network virtualization on the physical network.

Indeed, Cisco's basing its entire IT infrastructure, be it physical, virtual or both, on the network. Insieme's Nexus 9000 is expected to converge UCS servers and storage - recently-acquired WHIPTAIL's flash memory - with application aware switching and ACI control/management/orchestration in