When we talk about networks in the data center, there is often talk about bandwidth, 10Gigabit Ethernet, switch sizing, and the changes that have been wrought on the network since the inception of widespread server virtualization. The base operating system that the switch runs on, the networking software itself, is often only discussed in terms of how/when/why to do upgrades. Networking software has more relevance than that, especially from a strategic standpoint.
The strategic nature of networking software is easy to see. But the most important way networking software is important is in the flexibility it can provide over the lifetime of the product line. Poorly written or architected networking software can put a huge burden on the vendor when new features or when major changes to the networking industry occurs. As a customer that matters because the vendor may spend the time and money to accommodate those changes or has to charge an exorbitant amount. It all speaks to the investment protection a vendor can bring. Poor network software equals poor investment protection and a degraded upgrade path.
At Cisco, we take network software very seriously. It’s in or nature, from service provider, to data center, to the end user, we know the value of networking. In our data center product lines, including the Nexus and MDS, we use NX-OS as the networking software of choice. NX-OS began life as SAN-OS over 10 years ago as part of the launch of the MDS product family. In the MDS storage networking product line the networking software was proven time and time again to be a stable a stable and strong foundation. The battle tested nature of SAN-OS, and it’s flexible modular architecture around a Linux core lead Cisco to use it as the basis for data communications in the entire data center by introducing it as NX-OS in the Nexus data center switch product line. NX-OS now powers thousands of customer data centers in Nexus and MDS products all over the world today.
NX-OS brings consistency to the data center environment; with advanced management tools and a command line based on the same command line used Cisco IOS, which has been copied by our competitors industry-wide. Using NX-OS for someone trained in IOS is simply a matter of using the familiar syntax and structure with new capabilities.
When you consider your data center network, consider how Cisco continues to bring new innovations to the data center on existing and new hardware through the power of NX-OS. Industry challenges such as widespread server virtualization have been met with new protocols and techniques, all delivered via NX-OS. Future technologies such as Software Defined Networks (SDN) can be delivered via NX-OS. (For more on Cisco ONE and Cisco’s take on SDN read Omar Sultan’s excellent blog.) These are just some examples of how NX-OS can deliver ongoing value for your network today and tomorrow.