Cisco has an SDN for you

Cisco eschews one-size-fits-all software-defined networking approach

SAN DIEGO -- Cisco is out to prove it has an SDN for everyone.

At its Cisco Live conference, the company unveiled offerings to drive programmability across its product line to address the requirements of enterprises, service providers and mega-scale data centers.

The additions are to Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) EVPN and NX-OS programmable network options. ACI is targeted at the mass market – commercial, enterprise and public sector customers – while BGP EVPN is aimed at service providers and programmable NX-OS at mega-scale data centers.

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ACI extensions come in a new release of the fabric software. They include Microsoft Azure and System Center virtual network automation and fabric interconnect support; a VMware vCenter plug-in; an ACI toolkit for simplified network provisioning; a “stretched” fabric that can extend from 30km to 150km over DWDM, pseudowires and dark fiber for multi-site data centers and disaster recovery; and a dashboard that includes heat maps, capacity planning and troubleshooting tools to aid operations.

Cisco also lined up a new ACI partner in CliQr, a company that provides application dependency mapping and deployment automation on ACI networks.

Symantec is an ACI customer that claims significant operational improvements.

“We haven’t had 1 second of downtime with ACI,” said Vincent Spina, vice president of global network infrastructure at Symantec. Spina says Symantec is replacing hundreds of Cisco Catalyst 6500 switches with four Nexus 9000 spine and 77 Nexus 9000 leaf switches in an ACI fabric.

Cisco, citing a report from IDC, says Symantec is realizing a 441% return on investment via ACI over five years and an 87% faster application development cycle.

For service providers requiring a programmable fabric, Cisco rolled out the Virtual Topology System (VTS), a management system for provisioning a BGP EVPN-based VXLAN software overlay across Nexus 2000-9000 series switches. BGP EVPN on the Nexus 9000 was introduced early this year and is now being extended to the Nexus 5600 and 7000 series switches, and modular Nexus 9500.

Cisco says VTS will support any virtual switch that supports the Border Gateway Protocol. To date, Cisco’s own Nexus 1000v and the open source Open vSwitch do not support BGP, the company says.

For mega-scale data centers, Cisco unveiled a so-called unified “open” NX-OS operating system release for the Nexus 3000 and 9000 switches. It includes object store and model driven RESTful and XML/JSON API support in the NX-API; native third-party application integration of Puppet, Chef and Ganglia, among others; Linux utilities support for tool integration across compute and network; and a software developer’s kit for application integration.

Lastly, Cisco rolled out two Nexus 3000 series switches based on merchant silicon. The Nexus 3232C is a 1RU, 32-port 100G spine or leaf switch based on Broadcom’s Tomahawk chipset that also supports 10/25/40/50G port speeds. The Nexus 3264Q is a 2RU, 64-port 40G spine and leaf switch that can also support 10G port speeds.

The switches will be available in the third quarter with prices starting at $35,000. All of the other products – ACI’s new release, VTS and Open NX-OS – are available this month or in the second half of 2015.

MORE: Most SDN OpEx benefits can be realized by automating existing use cases, Cisco says

This story, "Cisco has an SDN for you" was originally published by Network World.

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