On Monday, Cisco announced a new family of switching platforms to meet consumer demands for next-generation data centers.
As the data center transitions to a services-centric model, the network plays a pivotal role in allocating virtual IT resources and scaling workloads. The Cisco Nexus 7000 Series was designed with this environment in mind, the company said, and it delivers the infrastructure chapter of Cisco's Data Center 3.0 vision.
"This is Cisco's biggest product announcement since CRS-1. When Cisco released
CRS-1 they redefined routing and came out with a product on the order of magnitude bigger than anything that was available," said Zeus Kerravala, senior vice president of Enterprise Research at Yankee Group. "We may look at this as the day Cisco's whole ecosystem strategy changed."
Built for Data Centers
The Cisco Nexus 7000 Series is the flagship of the Cisco Nexus family and the company describes it as a highly scalable modular platform. It delivers up to 15 terabits per second of switching capacity in a single chassis and supports up to 512 10-gigabits-per-second (Gbps) Ethernet, with future delivery of 40- and 100-Gbps.
The series' unified fabric architecture combines Ethernet and storage capabilities into a single platform, designed to provide all servers with access to all network and storage resources. This, Cisco said, enables data-center consolidation and virtualization. Key components of the unified fabric architecture include unified I/O interfaces and Fibre Channel support to be delivered in the future.
Cisco said it designed the Nexus 7000 specifically for the data center with improved airflow, integrated cable management, and a resilient platform architecture. The data plane is fully distributed and, when coupled with the Cisco NX-OS operating system, is designed to enable zero service-disruption upgrades on production systems. This provides a seamless systems design that reduces administrative tasks and simplifies complex systems operations, according to Cisco.
Building data centers based on a unified fabric eliminates the need for parallel storage and computational networks, reducing the number of server interfaces and significantly reducing the cabling and switching infrastructure. A unified fabric also enables customers to move to higher-density server form factors, increasing the IT workload output of each data center. Combined with virtualization, Cisco said, this new technology will help customers to build more efficient and sustainable data centers, maximizing IT workload for each facility and saving more power overall.
A Switch for the Future
According to Kerravala, Cisco looked at what the absolute high end in switching would mean today, and then figured out what it would need to look like to stay in place for 10 years and built a product to those specs.
"The role the network plays in the data center today is quite a bit different than it used to be. When Catalyst was made, the data center was server-centric. When you look at the data center today, almost every component of computing has been virtualized," Kerravala said.
"We've pulled storage out of the server, people are talking about memory virtualization, and all of those virtual components pools of resources that need to be connected," he continued. "It's the network that connects it. So the data center is migrating from being server-centric to network-centric."
The Nexus 7000 Series will be available in the second quarter at a price of $75,000.