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Cisco sets data center blast

Cisco touts new Nexus switches, enhancements to Catalyst line and software for controlling energy consumption

By , Network World
January 27, 2009 11:07 AM ET

Network World - Cisco Tuesday unveiled vital extensions to its data center arsenal with additions to the Nexus switching line and enhancements to its Catalyst products, including software designed to let the switches control the energy consumption of attached devices (see related slideshow).

The Cisco data center splash comes a day after HP brought its ProCurve networking family into the data center fray in an effort to combine networking and IT into a stronger, more comprehensive arsenal with which to battle Cisco. HP ProCurve launched its first data center-optimized switches and a server module for existing switches that integrates application processing into the ProCurve 8200 and 5400 switches.

HP’s move is in anticipation of Cisco unveiling a blade server, code-named ‘California,’ with integrated switching and virtualization at mid-year.

But for now, Cisco is fortifying its data center switches. For the Nexus line, Cisco is rolling out the Nexus 7018, Nexus 5010, and Nexus 2000 Fabric Extenders. They and the existing Nexus switches are designed to let IT organizations construct a unified switching fabric combining Ethernet and FibreChannel, and optimized for virtualization, Web 2.0 applications, and cloud computing.

The Nexus 7018 joins the Nexus 7000 Series with an 18-Slot Chassis that provides up to 16 I/O module slots supporting up to 512 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports – twice the density of the Nexus 7010, which debuted a year ago.

A new 48-port Gigabit Ethernet fiber line card lets Nexus users build mixed Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Ethernet environments. A new Virtual Port Channels (VPC) capability is designed to enable higher availability, large-scale virtual machine mobility, and higher bandwidth, Cisco says.

The Nexus 7018 and 7010 also now use power supplies with up to 90% efficiency with fan modules that adjust to compensate for changing thermal characteristics, Cisco says. This translates into less power wasted as heat and more available for the system to use, according to the company.

The Nexus 5010 is a 28-port, 1RU switch supporting 10 Gigabit Ethernet, Cisco’s version of a lossless Data Center Ethernet (DCE), FibreChannel over Ethernet (FCoE), and FibreChannel. These features enable it to consolidate traffic from local-area networks, storage-area networks and server clusters onto a single unified fabric, Cisco says.

The Nexus 2000 Series Fabric Extender is intended to support an increasing number of servers and increased demand for bandwidth from each server. The Nexus 2148T Fabric Extender connect to dual Cisco Nexus 5020 Switches and are designed to improve scalability by supporting up to 2,496 Gigabit Ethernet servers.

Enhancements for the Catalyst 6500 line include an In-Service-Software-Upgrade and support for long range integrated 10GbE optics to reduce the time needed for planned network maintenance and facilitate virtual machine mobility across data centers. The switch’s Virtual Switching System software allows it to function as a virtual service node to a Nexus core network, Cisco says.

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