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Nexus 1000V and Virtual Network Overlays Play Pivotal Role in Software Defined Networks

There’s an incredible amount of hype and excitement these days around Software Defined Networking (SDN), which promises to herald in a new age of flexibility, business agility and automation to our existing data center and campus networks. Since there are very few, if any, SDN networks in production environments today, though, we know there are a lot of implementation details to work out before the industry achieves the lofty benefits of network programmability. Cisco opened its kimono this week on its strategy around programmable networks (an even broader concept than what we believe the traditional definition of SDN is), called Cisco Open Network Environment. (Get Omar’s take on Cisco ONE).

Open Network EnvironmentIf you are like a lot of people, you might think that SDN is synonymous with OpenFlow, the leading standards-based approach for SDN today. However, we are already seeing folks across the industry extending the SDN vision beyond what OpenFlow is currently envisioned to do, so we think the definition of SDN will probably evolve over the next year or so to include additional programming models and protocols. Cisco ONE, for example, includes three approaches to network programmability: 1) our own onePK set of API’s to Cisco network operation systems and devices, 2) a portfolio of agents and controllers that will support OpenFlow, among other things, and 3) our Nexus 1000V-based portfolio for building virtual network overlays.

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Behold! A New Nexus!

It’s an exciting time right now with lots of stuff coming from Cisco Live 2012 San Diego, such as the new Cisco Open Network Environment (Cisco ONE). Not to plagiarize the late great Billy Mays, but wait there is more! We have just introduced a new member of the Nexus data center switch family, the Nexus 5596T.

The Nexus 5596T is a 2 rack unit high fixed configuration switch with 96 10GBASE-T ports. 10GBASE-T is a 10 Gigabit Ethernet twisted pair copper standard based on IEE 802.3an. This allows customers to use much less expensive twisted pair copper cabling based on Standard Category 6 (<55 meters), Augmented Category 6 (100 meters) or Shielded Category 6 cabling (100 meters).

10 Gigabit Ethernet is becoming more and more prevalent in data center environments. The overall cost of optical components has been one of the limiting factors for further spread of 10 Gigabit Ethernet, especially for smaller or budget-constrained companies. The ability to use Category 6 cabling will decrease costs for customers. In the past, technological limitations on 10GBASE-T such as a heat and power costs have made deployment problematic. Advances have reduced the heat and power envelope of 10GBASE-T to an acceptable level.

The time is ripe for 10 Gigabit Ethernet over twisted pair copper. Take a look at this whitepaper that contains a detailed discussion of the market for 10GBASE-T and how it is going to explode in the months and years to come. 10 Gigabit Ethernet brings not only the bandwidth needed to handle the ongoing data deluge from the internet as well as from internal data gathering points, but it brings greater efficiency. This efficiency comes from the reduction of cabling created by 1 Gigabit Ethernet. Less cables equals less ports to manage and a simpler more efficient environment.

So take a gander at the new Nexus 5596T and keep your eyes peeled for more from Cisco Live 2012 San Diego tomorrow!

 

 

Cisco Open Network Environment, Explained

Let’s cut to the chase–you have probably wondering “what is Cisco going to do about SDN and OpenFlow?”

Well, probably more than you expect, but before we get into that, I would respectfully suggest you are asking the wrong question.

Cisco Open Network Environment (Cisco ONE) was created to deliver a specific capability to our customers: providing direct programmatic access to Cisco infrastructure.  As we were vetting this concept with customers, two things quickly became apparent: 1) customers were extremely receptive to the concept and 2) there was a was wide variance in what customers were looking for.  It turned out that OpenFlow and what ONF defines as SDN (in essence control plane/data plane separation) represented one approach to network programmability, but other customers were looking for to accomplish things that had nothing to do with control plane/data plane separation.  For example, we see a number of universities asking for the typical OpenFlow/SDN functionality to support their R&D environments and for “network slicing”.  We talked to service providers who viewed programmability as the ability to run their own code on a box–say a custom-tuned version of BGP.  Finally, we talked to hyperscale data center operators who viewed programmability as the ability to get direct programatic access into the switching silicon to pull very specific and detailed information–say the port error counters–that they could fed directly into their homegrown OAM tools. At the end, it was clear we need to offer OpenFlow and SDN capabilities but we also needed to deliver more–hence the broader, more technology-agnostic concept of network programmability. So, I would offer that, instead, it might be better to ask “What is Cisco doing to make the network more programmable?”

The answer is, with Cisco ONE, quite a bit, actually.  At its essence, Cisco ONE allows you to build upon the things that already work with your network (scale, availability, security, etc) and add the programmability you need to help you deal with things like cloud. mobility, etc with more agile infrastructure, simpler operations and application awareness.

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Cisco Live, Day 1

So, I wrapped up CiscoLive Day 1 with a chance to catch up at the end of the day with Fred Nix of EMC (@NixFred) and Vaughn Stewart of NetApp (@vStewed). While the conversation covered a number of topics, not all them appropriate for a corporate blog, we did commit this part of the conversation to tape.  I think this segment  highlights a couple of things.  First, how our ecosystem of data center partners is second to none–these guys are rock stars and they represent equally cool companies.  Second, I think this really shows how much IT has evolved and the lines have blurred so that folks like EMC and NetApp are able move beyond their storage roots and deliver comprehensive infrastructure solutions to our customers through their vBlock and FlexPod offerings, respectively.

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VXI Walkabout at CiscoLive!

It is Cisco Live 2012, and the San Diego Convention Center is abuzz with excitement and activity, as customers throng to the World of Solutions, on this Monday afternoon, June 11. Having recently joined the Cisco VXI solutions marketing team, I am eager to check out all the VXI demos live on the show floor. Let’s pick up action with the  Desktop Virtualization demo in the Cisco Unified Data Center (UDC) booth. Read More »

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