New Cisco switches take aim at big data centers, data applications

By , Network World |  Data Center, Cisco

Cisco this week is unveiling two new configurations of its recently-launched Nexus 9000 switches, a new 40G Nexus switch. In addition, Cisco is celebrating the fifth anniversary of its UCS server.

Cisco also announced certification programs for its new Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) programmable networking product line, which includes the Nexus 9000 switches. ACI is Cisco's non-SDN response to the software-defined networking trend sweeping the industry.

+ MORE ON NETWORK WORLD: Cisco competitors say Nexus 9000 brings closed hardware to an open software game +

The 16-slot Nexus 9516 and four-slot Nexus 9504 had been expected, and they join the existing eight-slot Nexus 9508. The Nexus 9516 is positioned as an aggregation layer switch for service provider or high-demand deployments, offering 576 wire-speed 40Gbps Ethernet ports and 60Tbps of throughput. It takes up 21 RUs, supports 2,304 10G ports, consumes 11 watts per 40G port, and uses two to four Cisco and/or Broadcom ASICs per line card.

The Nexus 9504 is positioned as a migration tool from core-aggregation-access to spine/leaf architectures. It takes up 7 RUs, supports 144 40G and 576 10G ports, consumes 14 watts per 40G port, and also uses two to four Cisco and/or Broadcom ASICs per line card.

The Nexus 9000 switch line is Cisco delivery vehicles for its ACI fabric, the centerpiece of which is Cisco's Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) for enforcing application performance policies in the ACI network. APIC is on schedule to ship next quarter, Cisco says.

Another new 40G switch is the Nexus 3164Q. The 3164Q is based on Broadcom's Trident II silicon and designed for massively scalable data centers and big data applications. It sports 64 40G or 256 10G ports in 2RU, over 5Tbps of throughput, and runs the Nexus 9000 software image for programmability, including support for Cisco's NX-API, Linux Containers, XML/JSON APIs, Python, OpenFlow and Puppet/Chef configuration and automation tools.

Cisco says the Nexus 3164Q will not overlap with the programmable 40G Nexus 6004 switch because the 6004 has different feature sets and modularity to address different customer requirements.

For ACI specialization, Cisco is rolling out four new certifications specifically for ACI-based network programmability job roles. They include:

  • Business Application Developer, to gain awareness of the new data center environment.
  • Designer, or Architect, to ensure capability of integrating application requirements into a programmable platform.
  • Engineer, to learn to integrate and troubleshoot the environment.
  • Developer, to use ACI APIs to shape network behavior on behalf of the application.

On the fifth anniversary of its Unified Computing System (UCS) server platform, Cisco says it now has more than 30,000 customers for it, including 75% of the Fortune 500. Cisco also says, citing data from market researcher IDC, that it is second worldwide in x86 blade server revenue market share, with a 32% share in the US and a top five ranking among server vendors overall.

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 27 years, 22 at Network World. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy.

Read more about lan and wan in Network World's LAN & WAN section.

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