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Monday
Jan282008

Cisco's Nexus and Data Center 3.0

I've spent a good part of this morning's pre-dawn hours reading (... ok ... skimming...) Cisco's announcements, data sheets and white papers addressing the newly announced Nexus switch, its new operating systems (NX-OS), and the new release of Data Center Network Manager (rel. 4.0).  I liked the InformationWeek take on the announcement.  A little bit hyperbolic, but there's a ring of truth here.

As we dig into the announcements, I know there will be more to say about the impact of Nexus on the industry and specifically about the virtualization of networks in the service of VMEs like VMware and Hyper-V.  (Oh... did you notice in the press release that the two organizations acknowledged as early users are Lawrence Livermore Labs and Microsoft?  That's Microsoft, not VMware.)


Cisco Pitches Virtual Switches For Next-Gen Data Centers -- Virtualization -- InformationWeek

But whereas the Catalyst 6500 is a jack-of-all-trades that can be a firewall, a load balancer, or a router depending on the blades plugged into it, the Nexus is aimed at just one job: virtualization.

Cisco's vision is one in which big companies off-load an increasing number of server tasks to network switches, with servers ultimately becoming little more than virtual machines inside a switch. The Nexus doesn't deliver that, but it makes a start, aiming to virtualize the network interface cards, host bus adapters, and cables that connect servers to networks and remote storage. At present, those require dedicated local area networks and storage area networks, with each using a separate network interface card and host bus adapter for every virtual server. The Nexus aims to consolidate them all into one (or two, for redundancy), with virtual servers connecting through virtual NICs.

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