One of the products that generated a fair number of questions with last week’s announcement was our Nexus 1010. Since I got a number of very similar questions, let me answer them all here at once.
So, lets start with a quick recap. The Nexus 1000 switch architecture is modeled after a modular switch such as our Catalyst 6500 or Nexus 7000--the N1K series does, in fact, run NX-OS like the rest of the Cisco Nexus and Cisco MDS families. Like a modular switch, we have virtualized line cards we call Virtual Ethernet Modules (VEM) which is the software that replaces the vSwitch in a vSphere host. We also have virtualized supervisor modules calledm strangely enough, Virtual Supervisor Modules that provide management and control plane functions (they don’t get involved in packet forwarding). Prior to the Nexus 1010, the VSM software has run as a virtual appliance on a handy server in the data center.
We developed the N1010 in response to a couple of specific customer requests.
First, some server admins had expressed a desire to avoid devoting resources on an application server for the VSM for the benefit of the network team instead of using those server resoruces for end-user computing. Similarly, some network teams wanted to minimize dependence on the server team finding them a home for their VSMs--this has been especially problematic in new data center turn-ups, where the Nexus 1000 environment could not be turned up until the vSphere environment was up and running.
Enter the Nexus 1010. By moving the VSM onto a dedicated appliance (its really a UCS C Series on the inside), we address both concerns. Turn-up becomes a snap for the network team and no more VSMs running on application systems. Beyond this, with the active-standby capabilities of the Nexus 1010, we gain higher availability. In theory, we gain greater scalability with the dedicated Nexus 1010, but, to be honest, I have yet to hear any real world concerns from customers on this front.
So, remember a couple of paragraphs back I mentioned that the Nexus 1000 was modeled after our modular switches? Well, one other trick the Nexus 1010 introduces is support for virtual services modules. The first service module we are introducing is a virtualized version of our Network Analysis Module (NAM).
For those of you not familiar with the NAM, is pretty slick in either its physical from or the virtual version that runs on the N1010. Its let you analyze network usage behavior by application, host/VM and conversation to identify bottlenecks that may impact performance and availability. From a management perspective, you can now troubleshoot performance issues with extended visibility into VM-to-VM traffic, virtual interface statistics, and transaction response times. Key features include:
- Traffic Analysis
- Intelligent Application Performance (IAP) analytics
- Interface and QoS Monitoring
- Real-time and long-term report
BTW, the NAM is just the tip of the iceberg--we have some truly cool stuff on the horizon for those of you wondering how you are going to handle L4-7 services in a virtualized data center.
Finally, we still have a 60 day, fully functional free eval (CCO login required) for the Nexus 1000V. If you are running vSphere, I certianly encourage you to download it and play with it.