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Load Balancing with Dynamic FCoE

July 8, 2014 at 6:00 am PST

It may sound strange to hear me say it, but when I wrote the previous blog post about Dynamic FCoE I thought that it may get a little blip of attention and then filed away as a “oh, that is cool” little factoid about Cisco’s storage portfolio. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so nonchalant, but I confess I was not expecting the number of questions that I (and other speakers at CiscoLive back in May) have been getting about the technology.

Many questions – including some in the comments of the previous blog – have indicated a strong desire to know more, and they have been excellent and well-thought out. I’m going to try to address some of them in a deeper dive blog whenever I can, in the hopes of being able to address some of the concerns and clarify some points.

switch goes downWe’ll start with one of the biggest concerns – sharing the spine layer for logical separation of SAN A/B, and what happens if one of the spine switches (nodes) go offline. Read More »

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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.

Read More »

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The Napkin Dialogues: FCoE vs. QCN

July 21, 2011 at 2:49 pm PST

While at Cisco Live I had the pleasure of meeting several people who were curious about Multihop FCoE but had the unfortunate experience of getting too much misinformation from several sources (yes, including some of Cisco’s competition, but even some partners!). Some had already seen my article on FCoE and TRILL and wanted to know if I could help explain the relationship between FCoE and QCN (Quantized Congestion Notification), one of the documents in the IEEE DCB standard revision.

Even though we have a very good, short white paper on the subject, this is one of those subjects that as soon as people ask about it we break out the white boarding, or in the case of being at Cisco Live, the napkins. There are just some things that pictures help explain better.

Because of this, I’m going to try something different with this blog. It may work, or I may fall flat on my face; I suppose we shall find out. Read More »

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