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David Yen, senior vice president of Data Center Group at Cisco, said Cisco has leapfrogged the competition with its new switch. And Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, agreed. When Arista came out of nowhere, Kerravala said, it took Cisco by surprise and the networking giant fell behind in the market. The Nexus 3548 helps put Cisco back on top, in a market it ruled for many years.
Two Different Approaches
"This product is built with Cisco's custom silicon. With custom silicon, Cisco can get the numbers down to the absolute lowest possible for today's technology. That's what you see here," Kerravala told us.
"I wouldn't say Arista is going to go under from this by any stretch of the imagination. When you look at the demographics of the base that's interested in ultra low latency, it tends to be Wall Street firms and others that tend to buy from multiple vendors anyway. So there is room for both."
As Kerravala sees it, Arista's competitive differentiation is on the software side. Arista is competing on interoperability and broad ecosystem, and its operating system was designed for software-defined networking. Arista has a strong base and is working to expand into other verticals.
The battle between Cisco and Arista is ultimately a battle between two different approaches: one highly programmable operating system that Arista has and the custom silicon route that Cisco normally chooses.
"All said and done, Cisco tends to win a lot of these battles because they can do some unique things with their custom silicon. They can do it because of their size," Kerravala said. "You can't really throw that kind of R&D at a problem unless you have the revenues to do so, and sometimes it's hard to get the revenue to do it unless you throw R&D at the problem."
Key Highlights and Specs
The Nexus 3548 one-rack -unit (1RU) 10 GB Ethernet switch running in "warp mode" offers latencies as low as 190 ns in those environments with small to medium Layer 2 and Layer 3 scaling requirements.
The ultra-low-latency switch also facilitates the efficient delivery of stock market data to financial trading servers in as little as 50 ns with the warp switch port analyzer (SPAN) feature.
The Nexus 3548 also includes Hitless Network Address Translation (NAT), a critical feature to allow algorithmic traders to easily connect to any trading venue they desire without any latency penalty.
Cisco Nexus 3548 switch latency speeds were verified using Spirent TestCenter across various workloads and using testing specifications developed jointly with Spirent Communications.