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VMware’s SDN Strategy is No Threat to Cisco, says Mike Fratto

August 8, 2012 at 8:30 am PST

For those of you wondering about the impact to Cisco of Software Defined Networking and the combined SDN strategy of VMware and Nicira, I point you to a very rational and well-articulated article by Mike Fratto of Network Computing, that basically says Cisco doesn’t have much to worry about. (Enterprise Strategy Group had already said something similar, by the way).

Specifically, Fratto says:

Mike FrattoThe lack of programmability in existing networking hardware is certainly a problem, but VMware’s acquisition of Nicira does not mean that Cisco and its ilk will be marginalized… It does mean the role and management of the physical network is changing, and I think Cisco is further ahead than most of its competitors in creating a vision for the next phase of networking.

I couldn’t agree more. Since Cisco live! when we announced our Cisco ONE strategy for network programmability as well as the advances in our Nexus 1000V portfolio for virtual network overlays, I have been posting on many of the same points.

My take here was that the VMware-Nicira acquisition did not portend a strategic break with Cisco, and while there are some obvious overlaps in our product lines, there are still a number of areas of collaboration, cooperation and interoperability. The virtual network infrastructure is just one piece of a larger software stack and the differentiation will likely be decided in the orchestration, management and applications built on top of the newly programmable infrastructures sometime down the road. Read More »

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Unstoppable Momentum: Cisco Data Center

December 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm PST

Nexus 7009

Our latest TechWiseTV episode is all about the recent announcements rolling out from the Data Center team. We did our best to cram a few handpicked things we liked and give you the detail we thought it deserved.  The theme, and the show title: Evolutionary Fabric, Revolutionary Scale.

The announcements include the most scalable 10 Gigabit Ethernet Layer 2/Layer 3 Fabric in the industry.  The claim is that no matter how diverse your data center demands may be, Cisco offers unparalleled abilities to arm you with efficiency, agility, innovation and differentiation.  So no matter your form factor, physical, virtual or cloud- based environments are all positively impacted with an industry leading fabric-based approach.

Filled with geeky goodness….look at what you will find!

  • 2nd gen Nexus 7000 with revolutionary new scale
  • FabricPath, Adapter FEX, and VM FEX support on Nexus 5500
  • New FEX switch and B22 OEM program
  • Expansions to Nexus 3000 family
  • IN YOUR FACE COMPETITIVE!  Don’t miss the final segment of the show…Jimmy Ray calls out HP, Juniper, Arista….”I showed you mine, now show me yours!”

Watch the entire thing after the jump.

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Re-defining Fabric Scale: Thinking Beyond the “Box”

Today we are making a significant announcement with several new innovations across our data center and switching portfolio that showcase how our customers can build large scale-up and scale-out data center networks.  While the press release does a great job (thanks Lee!) of highlighting all the innovations across the Nexus Unified Fabric portfolio and the new ASA 1000v, two aspects of the announcement stand out quite prominently:

  1. Cisco is delivering the highest density 10GbE modular switching platform in the industry
  2. Cisco is delivering the most scalable fabric in the industry and, by extension -- on the planet! (we’re told planet sounds much cooler)

No. 1 above is fairly straightforward. With our new 2nd-generation F2 line card and Fabric 2 module, at 768 ports of 10GbE line-rate switching ports running NX-OS, the flagship Nexus 7018 in a fully-loaded configuration is simply the epitome of switch scale.

No.2 is where things get interesting, because we’re no longer thinking about just the “box” but rather, how we can weave different elements across the data center into a holistic “fabric”.  This systems-based approach focuses on multi-dimensional scale transcending the box and even the data center LAN, to span between data centers, while providing feature-rich fabric capabilities.  At 12,000+ 10GbE nodes supported as part of one Fabricpath-enabled system, and with the ability to support Fabric Extender (FEX) technology (plus L2 and L3 capabilities), this approach re-defines fabric scalability at 2X the scale and half the cost point of the next best claim in the industry. More important, it achieves this in an evolutionary manner for our 19,000+ NX-OS customers, offering investment protection for brownfield deployments while raising the bar for greenfield environments!

The Nexus platforms have been around for 3+ years, and over 500 customers have deployed FabricPath on the Nexus 7000 alone since its introduction about an year ago. It is a proven technology. With Fabricpath now coming onto the Nexus 5500 platforms, the momentum is likely to spike up with a mix of both size and scale. Like I said, things get interesting.

To make it more fun, our technical experts from the product teams have taken a data-driven approach and compared Cisco’s new innovations and our box and system-scale with others in the industry.

They looked at a couple of representative examples -- the first being, what it would take any other vendor to build a non-blocking 768-port 10GbE “switch”, with capabilities similar to what the Nexus 7000 could provide in a single chassis. The second example takes a look at what it takes to build a “fabric” with Cisco leveraging its Nexus portfolio and NX-OS to build that.

Take a look and let us know what you think. It is useful to note that most vendors in the industry today have no fabric capabilities to speak of, and the few that are attempting a systems approach, have really limited to no customer traction thus far. Our customers and key analysts tell us that Cisco has a multi-year innovation lead in this space, even as Cisco continues to focus on bringing the network, compute, storage and application services together with integrated management to drive productivity and efficiency across traditional IT and organizational silos.

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STP is not the problem, but FabricPath will fix it!

Few years ago, in order to interact with the audience, I started a Cisco Live presentation involving some Spanning Tree design with three questions:

  • Who hates the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP)?
    This one is easy. You could sell ice blocks to an Eskimo based on the ubiquitous hatred for STP. Here, I got a good 90% of the hands in the air.
  • Who has a good understanding of STP?
    More personal question, but this is Cisco Live, with networking experts all over the place. Some 60-70% hands were raised.
  • Who thinks that the root bridge can block a port?
    Audience stunned! Some were shaking their head, with a negative expression, the others suddenly realized they had an urgent email to check or looked away. Among the more than 100 attendees, only one person in the front was frantically raising his hand. Too bad for him, there was no prize.

I drew two conclusions from this:

  • First, giving the impression that you’re thinking your audience is made of idiots is not good for your session evaluation.

FabricPath, Dilbert-style

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The Network is Changing – Is Your Network Cloud-Ready?

Today’s IT organizations face a broad set of challenges today.

  • How to deal with the proliferation of end-user devices? (smartphones, tablets, etc.)
  • How to deal with the proliferation of virtualization and it’s new operational model?
  • How to adapt to requirement for new application traffic patterns (east-west, VM mobility)?
  • How to manage the edges of their networks as work/life locations blur?
  • When do they decide to deliver a business need via internal resources vs. external resources?
  • With all this technology change happening so rapidly, how do they align their teams?
REGISTER for WEBINAR #1 in a SERIES of CLOUD-READY NETWORK discussions.
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