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Do You Want Cisco Nexus Today…or Yesteday’s Technology Tomorrow?

March 6, 2009 at 12:00 pm PST

I have to admit that its gratifying to see our competitors validate decisions we made a couple of years ago with regards to the need for a unified fabric in the data center. After dismissing FCoE or worse, completely missing the boat, they seem to be getting the religion. However, even though they are newly converted, it is useful to examine exactly how far behind the curve some of these companies are in delivering a unified fabric switch. After all, marketectures are easy--shipping product is a bit trickier.First off, we have a networking company that announced a switch about the same time we announced the Nexus 7000 last year. While that switch has yet to ship, the company has apparently had to call a mulligan and pre-announce a newer version of that switch that has not shipped yet--kinda like calling the mulligan before you even swing. This time, this new, new switch will offer unified fabric. Now you have to ask yourself how are they going to do that--where are they going to get the storage networking expertise? Well, you can either buy a Fibre Channel stack or build one yourself. If you look around, the”buy” options are limited. The Fibre Channel director space is pretty evenly split between Cisco and Brocade and I don’t think either company is selling. :) So, perhaps it makes more sense to build your own FC stack. An admirable effort, but the follow-up challenge is finding a customer who wants to be the guinea pig for your company’s first foray into storage networking. Trust us, we have been there and, lucky for us, we built a solid product and had success in the enterprise switching market to leverage.Next, we have a company that declared little customer interest in FCoE, then, seven months later, spent $3B to buy a network switch vendor, which got them parity with Cisco….well, Cisco in 2002. That was the year we acquired Andiamo Systems and had Ethernet switch and Fibre Channel switch which shared a nameplate, but little else in terms of hardware architecture or software. While this is certainly a step in the right direction for this competitor, it is still a full generation behind the benchmark.Which brings us to the Nexus family. So, here is shipping hardware that is purpose-built to allow customers to evolve from GbE to 10GbE to FCoE with full investment protection. But, as impressive as the hardware is (and it is), the real secret sauce is NX-OS. This is the only shipping operating system that includes both storage networking and data network code. The fact that NX-OS initially shipped as version 4.x was not a marketing exercise but rather acknowledgement that NX-OS was the synthesis of existing, battle-tested operating systems. The hard reality is that while competitors may be able to shorten their hardware development cycle by taking advantage of merchant silicon and the like, there is no hurrying the software side. Good software takes time.Well, that’s it for now--next post, I’ll dig into some of the FCoE FUD that is out there.

Is Cisco de-emphasizing the MDS 9000 Product Family and Fibre Channel technology?

I’ve had to respond repeatedly to this line of questioning since the fall of 2008. Last year Cisco launched the Nexus 7000 and Nexus 5000 platforms with great fanfare, trumpeting the arrival of both DCE and FCoE technologies. In the meantime, the dependable workhorse of Cisco’s Data Center 3.0 architecture -- the MDS 9000 -- continued to grow the installed base and deliver on the promise of scalability and investment protection. Some industry observers interpreted the consistent and reliable MDS marketing message as a subtle deprioritization of the platform and Fibre Channel technology in favor of the new Nexus offerings and sexy promise of FCoE. Nothing could be further from the truth. Read More »

Stratus – Head in the Clouds, Come back to Earth!

I just perused a few press quotes on the recent vaporware Stratus announcement from my friends down the street. David Yen, executive vice president of the Data Center Business Group was quoted in eWeek and a few other magazines with the following comments. My feedback is in bold.The Stratus Project has been in the works for more than a year, says Yen, with the goal of creating a scalable, flat and lossless fabric that will carry all types of data center traffic via a single architecture at 10GB Ethernet access port speed. — ummm, we did that last year“Stratus extends Juniper’s high-performance networking core competencies into the datacenter,” Yen said. “It allows Juniper to enter a new addressable market space. We have no vested interest in prolonging suboptimal legacy architectures. We are in a unique position to revolutionize the datacenter.” Read: Juniper wants to obsolete your FIbreChannel SAN and Storage Infrastructure, and, coincidentally, without understanding the IT environment you are moving into, with no experience at all, you expect to disrupt it. Good luck.“œData centers will grow larger,” he said.”A new, adequate solution must be provided.” Read: We focus on adequacy, adequate is good enough. With the Nexus we focused on redefining, setting new performance and availability levels, and reshaping the data center network. “œIf you don’t support a converged fabric -- you’re limiting flexibility” within the data center, Yen said. I totally agree, want a job? Or a Nexus?

FEAR, UNCERTAINTY, DOUBT – Nexus ‘Compatibility’ in the HyPe World.

I sent a Tweet out this weekend that is turning out to be quickly prophetic: -- “Those most vocal against a new technology are those most afraid of its impact on their existence”. Thus was funny to note a recent blog post where one of our alliance partners made a comment that is unfortunately inaccurate. That the Nexus Family of LAN switches is not compatible with our other switches. I have reached out to them to correct it, but wanted to also clear the air a bit and of course set the record straight.The Nexus family of Data Center Switches is compatible with the Catalyst line, it also happens to be compatible with the IETF and IEEE standards as well as the pending ANSI T11 standards for FCoE. I know this has to be a hard thing for some to accept when they are pushing proprietary vendor lock-in technologies that waste power, cost more to implement, use too much fiber and copper, don’t support virtual machine mobility, can’t keep policies coherent during workload migration, expose security and compliance risks, and cause massive outages during upgrade. Sorry friend, I’ll prefer the interoperable, standards based, consistent user interface, model AND bring customer-focused innovations to market at the same time. dg

Nexus 1000V goes to Cannes

February 25, 2009 at 12:00 pm PST

What’s not to love about Cannes, France: the food, the wine, the French Riviera, the Nexus 1000V….huh? Yes, this week, Cannes is home to VMworld Europe where all things VMware are under discussion.Folks lucky enough to be at the event have access to a hands-on lab where they get a chance to play with the 1000V. We ran over 80 people through the labs and have had to expand the demo pods to deal the overflow--kinda like Vegas, where attendees were stacked 4 deep once we unveiled the 1000V.Paul and Han, from the BU are onsite, running things. Perhaps, between bottles of wine, we can get them to post some more info on what customers are saying. In the interim, here are some thougths from one attendee.