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Meet the Next Generation Fabric Extender – Cisco’s Nexus 2300 Series

More than 5 years ago, Cisco introduced its first Nexus 2000 Fabric Extender (FEX) into the market. This broad portfolio has enabled over 15,000 customers to seamlessly add network access port density across server racks without adding the inherent management complexity that comes with adding more boxes into your architecture to meet scaling requirements which ultimately translates into lower capex and opex for the business.

Today marks the next evolution for this portfolio as we introduce the Nexus 2300 platform -- the 3rd generation Fabric Extender family. Based on the extensive innovations you have come to know from the Nexus 2100 and 2200 platforms, Nexus 2300 Fabric Extenders expand on these capabilities with:

  • Larger buffers to absorb bursts of traffic for a wide variety of workloads such as multicast feeds, voice traffic, video traffic, and healthcare applications
  • Unified Ports support enabling a flexible LAN and SAN deployment through support for Ethernet, Fiber Channel and Fiber Channel over Ethernet connectivity
  • Support for Cisco’s 40G BiDi optics simplifying migration 10 to 40 Gigabit Ethernet speeds while reusing existing 10G cabling
  • Additional versatile TCAM which can be used for:
    • Advanced features such as ACL classifications and QOS
    • Hardware-capable local flow redirect for architectures that require intra-rack traffic to reduce bandwidth

Put all of these together with the single point of management, policy enforcement, zero-touch provisioning installation and automatic configuration that is available across all Nexus 2000 Fabric Extenders and you further benefit from a more simplified and flexible network design that helps you commission and decommission server racks faster, simplify operations, and support varying workload requirements.

Now let’s look at the first member of the Nexus 2300 platform, the Nexus 2348UPQ. Priced at $9500 (US List), almost the same price as current 1Gbps FEXs, the Nexus 2348UPQ supports 48 1/10 Gigabit Ethernet ports. You can add further 10 G ports when you split the 40G ports for up to 64 10G ports – perfect for data centers that are migrating their servers from 1 to 10G network connectivity. The 6 on-board 40Gbps ports support Cisco’s BiDi optics so that as you migrate from 10G to 40G as your uplink speed, you can reuse your existing 10G cabling – helping you save on the costs of re-cabling your network and get it upgraded faster! This new fabric extender can be deployed in conjunction with Nexus 5500, 5600, and 6000 parent switches and with the Nexus 7000 and 9000 Series in the future.

In summary, Cisco’s Fabric Extender portfolio has seen tremendous traction in the market as the many benefits of this architecture ultimately help create a cost-effective, flexible and simplified approach to building a data center network. The Nexus 2300 Series Fabric Extender, with the Nexus 2348UPQ, continues to deliver on these same principles and further expands on the promise of helping simplify network deployment and operations while ensuring the data center network is ready to support varying application needs. I invite you to learn more about the Nexus 2348UPQ and other Nexus 2000 Series Fabric Extenders at www.cisco.com/go/nexus2000.

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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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Multipurpose, Multi-role, Multi-Cisco. The New RTP Datacenter is ready for anything

With the opening of the new Cisco Datacenter in RTP, I thought it would be cool to reach out to a few of the guys responsible for the design and ask them a few questions. So, I got together with Jag Kahlon (Cisco IT Architect) and John Banner (Cisco IT Network Engineer) for a quick chat.

Me: What were the primary objectives for the new datacenter?

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Big Compute, Big Data, Big VMworld 2011 session

This is a review post for the Big Compute and Big Data, NoSQL session. Hmm, when signing up for the session I was concerned about being a little lost on the topic, but the panel was very good.

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Announcing True Director-Class Multihop FCoE

March 30, 2011 at 6:49 am PST

For months people have been asking me what I’m doing, and it’s been difficult to hold something like this under my hat because I’ve been really excited about this.

How the time has flown. I joined Cisco in June of last year, and on my first day my manager told me that I was going to be working on a new product -- an FCoE blade for the MDS 9500 Series Fibre Channel Directors. Read More »

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