Cisco Rolls Out Nexus-7000, Next Generation Mega-Switch

| About: Cisco Systems, (CSCO)

Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) is rolling out its Nexus 7000 family of data center-class switches that Jayshree Ullal, senior vice president of Data Center, Switching and Services at Cisco, said was the most significant announcement by the company in the last decade.

The Nexus 7000 is a modular mega-switch that combines Ethernet, IP, and storage capabilities a unified network fabric. It delivers 15-terabits per second of capacity in a single chassis, supporting up to 512 10 gigabit-per-second Ethernet cards, and up to 40 100 gigabit-per-second in the future.

The Nexus 7000 is Cisco’s first platform to provide a unified fabric, which eliminates the need for parallel storage and compute networks. The fabric scales performance linearly with each module and is partitioned logically for
unicast and multicast traffic, the company said.

According to Ullal, customers can save more than $20 million over the life of a data center via an 8 percent reduction in power consumption for a 20 to 30 megawatt facility.

Cisco provided some examples of how the Nexus 7000 performs:

  • Five million concurrent trans-continental TelePresence collaboration sessions, which would save 6.75 million tons of CO2.
  • Transmit the data for all U.S. academic research libraries–estimated at over 2,000 terabytes of data–in 1.07 seconds.
  • Copy the entire Wikipedia database in 10 milliseconds.
  • Copy the entire searchable Internet in 7.5 Minutes.
  • Download all 90,000 Netflix movies in 38.4 seconds.
  • Send a high-resolution 2 megapixel photo to everyone on earth in 28 minutes.
  • Add a Web server in 9 seconds instead of 90–180 Days.

It’s the first new switching platform from Cisco since the Catalyst series, which was introduced in 1994. Over the past four years Cisco has spent over $1 billion on data center research and development.

“Three or four years ago a team of 50 architects said ‘how can be build something that transcends all silos, an fabric that can deal with real-time, latency, Ethernet and IP,’ ” said Tom Edsall, Cisco’s Data Center CTO. “There is a massive trend toward virtualization, and we wanted the equivalent of a hypervisor for the network so you can have multiple instances of networking across a single fabric.”

“We spent $250 million on the Nexus project,” Edsall said. “There was a lot of destructive testing and QA, and an embarrassing number of prototypes.”

The Nexus product includes 10 ASICS and 10 million lines of code in the new Cisco Nexus Operating System (NX-OS) and revised Cisco Data
Center Network Manager. The NX-OS is based on Cisco’s SAN-OS and combines Layer 2 switching, Layer 3 routing protocols, and virtualization. “It uses the familiar Cisco IOS interface with virtualization and security,” Edsall said. The Nexus 7000 also includes the Cisco Trusted Security, which integrates identity and role-based security across data centers.

Pricing starts at S75,000 and a typical data center configuration goes for about $200,000. The Nexus 7000 will be generally available in the second quarter. “The first year we expect lots of trials, and more deployments in years two, three and four,” Ullal said.

Cisco is targeting the new switch at financial and search companies and others that require large scale hosting, she said. MSN and Lawrence Livermore National Labs have been testing the Nexus 7000, and Yahoo and Google could be doing trials with the platform, Ullal added.

If the Nexus 7000 family lives up to it hype, Cisco has found another cash cow to fuel its growth.

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