Cisco fills out SDN family with 40G switch, controller, cloud gear for data center

Nexus 6000 designed for high-density 40G; InterCloud, for VM migration to hybrid clouds; ONE Controller for programming Cisco switches, routers

Cisco this week will fill out its programmable networking family with a new line of data center switches, cloud connectivity extensions and a software-based SDN controller.

The new products fill out Cisco's ONE programmable networking strategy, which was unveiled last spring as the company's answer to the software-defined networking trend pervading the industry. Cisco ONE includes APIs, controllers and agents, and overlay networking techniques designed to enable software programmability of Cisco switches and routers to ease operations, customize forwarding and more easily extend features, among other benefits.

This week's data center SDN rollout comes after last week's introduction of the programmable Catalyst 3850 switch for the enterprise campus.

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Credit: Cisco

Cisco Nexus 6004

The new Nexus 6000 includes two configurations: the four RU Nexus 6004 and the 1 RU 6001. The 6004 scales from 48 Layer 2/3 40Gbps Ethernet ports, all at line-rate Cisco says, to 96 40G ports through four expansion slots. The switch also supports 384 Layer 2/3 10G Ethernet ports at line-rate, and 1,536 Gigabit Ethernet/10G Ethernet ports using Cisco's FEX fabric extenders.

The Nexus 6001 sports 48 10G ports and four 40G ports through the four expansion slots. The Nexus 6000 line features 1 microsecond port-to-port latency and support for up to 75,000 virtual machines on a single switch, Cisco says. It also supports FibreChannel-over-Ethernet tunneling on its 40G ports.

The Nexus 6000 will go up against 10G and 40G offerings in Arista Networks' 7000 series switches, Dell's Force10 switches and Juniper's QFabric platforms. Cisco also announced 40G expansion modules for the Nexus 5500 top of rack switch and Nexus 2248PQ fabric extender to connect into the Nexus 6000 for 10G server access and 40G aggregation.

Credit: Cisco

Cisco Network Analysis Module-NX1

Cisco also unveiled the first service module for its Nexus 7000 core 10G data center switch. The Network Analysis Module-NX1 (NAM-NX1) provides visibility across physical, virtual and cloud resources, Cisco says, including Layer 2-7 deep packet inspection and performance analytics. A software version, called virtual NAM (vNAM), will also be available for deployment on a switch in the cloud.

For hybrid private/public cloud deployments, Cisco unveiled the Nexus 1000V InterCloud software. This runs in conjunction with the Nexus 1000V virtual switch on a server and provides a secure tunnel, using cryptography and firewalling, into the provider cloud for migration of VM workloads into the public cloud.

Once inside the public cloud, Nexus 1000V InterCloud provides a secure "container" to isolate the enterprise VMs from other tenants, essentially forming a Layer 2 virtual private cloud within the provider's environment. The enterprise manages that container using Cisco's Virtual Network Management Center InterCloud software on the customer premises.

Within the context of Cisco ONE, Nexus 1000V InterCloud is an overlay, while the Nexus 6000 is a physical scaling element for the virtual data center. A key core element of Cisco ONE is the new ONE Controller unveiled this week.

ONE Controller is software that runs on a standard x86 server. It controls the interaction between a Cisco network and the applications that run on it and manage it through a set of northbound and southbound APIs handling communication between those applications and the network.

Those APIs include Cisco's onePK set, OpenFlow and others on the southbound side between the controller and the switches and routers; and REST, Java and others on the northbound side between the controller and Cisco, customer, ISV and open source applications.

Among the Cisco applications for the ONE Controller are a previously announced network slicing program for network partitioning; and two new ones: network tapping and customer forwarding.

Network tapping provides the ability to monitor, analyze and debug network flows; and custom forwarding allows operators to program specific forwarding rules across the network based on parameters like low latency.

Cisco also provided an update on the phased rollout of Cisco ONE across its product portfolio. OnePK platform APIs will be available on the ISR G2 and ASR 1000 routers, and Nexus 3000 switch in the first half of this year. They'll be on the Nexus 7000 switch and ASR 9000 router in the second half of 2013.

OpenFlow agents will be on the Nexus 3000 in the first half of this year. This is in keeping with Cisco's initial plan for OpenFlow, which was changed last spring to appear first on the Catalyst 3000. OpenFlow will now appear on the Catalyst 3000 and 6500, and Nexus 7000 switch and ARS 9000 router in the second half of this year.

For Cisco ONE overlay networks, the Cloud Services Router 1000V, which was also introduced last spring, is now slated to ship this quarter. It was expected in the fourth quarter of 2012. Microsoft Hyper-V support in the Nexus 1000V virtual switch will appear in the first half of this year, as will a VXLAN Gateway for the 1000V. KVM hypervisor support will emerge in the second half of this year.

As for the product announced this week, the Nexus 6004 will ship this quarter and is priced from $40,000 for 12 40G ports to $195,000 for 48 40G ports. The Nexus 6001 will ship in the first half of this year and pricing will be announced when it ships.

The 40G module for the Nexus 5000 series will ship in the first half, with pricing to come at that time. The 40G-enabled Nexus 2248PQ will cost $12,000 and ship in the first quarter.

The NAM-NX1 for the Nexus 7000 will ship in the first half with pricing to come at shipment. The vNAM will enter proof-of-concept trials in the first half.

The Cisco ONE Controller will also be available in the first half. Pricing will be announced when it ships.

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 25 years, 21 at Network World. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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