While most customers encourage competition among vendors, sometimes they also serve as active catalysts for vendors to come together, collaborate and deliver joint innovations that deliver true value. This is one of those times. And it turns out to be a win-win for all.
Today, Cisco and HP made a joint announcement on a technology co-engineered by both the companies – the Nexus B22 Fabric Extender (FEX) for HP (a.k.a Nexus B22HP), that is now generally available (GA). This is a new Fabric Extender custom-built in a blade form factor for the HP c-class Blade System server environment. HP customers using this Fabric Extender will be able to connect the HP BladeSystem chassis to the Cisco Nexus-based network and derive the benefits of Cisco’s Unified Fabric architecture. Bottom line – it provides more investment protection and choice for common customers that have HP blade servers and Cisco networking.
The Nexus B22HP Fabric Extender leverages the emerging IEEE 802.1BR standard – another example of how Cisco and HP are pooling our collective expertise to drive common standards while addressing some of the emerging challenges of scaling virtual machine networking.
Here’s what the fruit of our collaboration looks like:
Cisco Nexus B22 Fabric Extender for HP provides sixteen 10GBase-KR internal connections to the blade servers, one per slot in the HP c7000 chassis, and eight 10GbE SFP+ connections to the fabric.
A parent Cisco Nexus 5000 can act as a single point of management to support upto 24 HP c-Class BladeSystem chassis, helping customers consolidate network management points by up to 98%.
The Nexus B22HP lowers total cost of ownership by supporting end-to-end converged fabric, device consolidation and simplifying cabling management. Supporting technologies like virtual Port-Channel (vPC) and Cisco FabricPath eliminate reliance on the Spanning Tree Protocol, enabling a large multipath, loop free topology.
The Nexus B22HP makes the work of a network administrator easy by providing network visibility of the server fabric, giving administrators the ability to manage, monitor and troubleshoot up to 24 HP c-Class BladeSystem chassis from a single parent switch.
For more inquisitive minds, here are some questions we already answered.
Why is Cisco doing this collaboration in a market we compete so heavily?
It is simple. Cisco and HP both have a large base of common customers. Many have standardized on HP servers and enclosures while investing in Cisco’s networking infrastructure. For those customers, it is important to ensure they have choice and investment protection. HP has always welcomed outside interconnect vendors to join their BladeSystem portfolio and Cisco has traditionally been a part of that portfolio with Catalyst 3020 and 3120 series and the MDS9124 Fabric Switches.
Great, how do I buy this product?
HP and their channel partners who sell blade server products will be able to sell the Nexus B22 FEX for HP BladeSystem.
What other products have HP and Cisco co-engineered and brought to market?
HP and Cisco have worked together to develop blade switch products extending back to 2004. These include Ethernet switches such as the Catalyst 3020 and 3120 series and the MDS9124 Fabric Switches
What does this mean to Cisco respective product lines?
There is NO change to either company’s products or services. Both HP and Cisco will continue to individually develop our existing networking and server portfolios in an effort to provide our customers with new and innovative features.
Cisco continues to invest in and see tremendous growth both in our network and compute portfolio.
How does this combined solution compete with existing Cisco and HP server and networking solutions?
The Cisco Fabric Extender for HP BladeSystem was not designed to compete with either company’s offerings. Its purpose is to allow our customers the freedom to mix HP server blades with Cisco Networking. Customers are free to evaluate the merits of other HP and Cisco offerings and determine the best products for their needs.
Cisco has always committed to delivering architectural flexibility and evolutionary Innovation to our customers. This is an example of extending that concept with other vendors.
Will there be others vendors who OEM Cisco Fabric Extender technology?
HP is the first major server vendor to OEM this technology and to participate in Cisco’s FEX Ecosystem. Since FEX blade form factors are specific to each vendor’s chassis, it will involve custom engagement and engineering with other server vendors. Cisco will not comment on any plans in progress, but encourages other vendors to join the fabric extender ecosystem.
Over 6000 customers have bought over 8 million FEX ports since their introduction. We invite our common customers to try out this new innovation and experience benefits. You can find more information about Cisco’s Nexus B22 Fabric Extenders at www.cisco.com/go/b22fex and about Cisco’s Unified Fabric approach at www.cisco.com/go/unifiedfabric.
As always, your questions and comments are welcome.