Cisco re-vamps data center strategy, overhauls UCS architecture

Sept. 14, 2010
Cisco announced that it has moved beyond its Data Center 3.0 strategy in favor of a new architectural framework dubbed the Data Center Business Advantage.

Cisco announced that it has moved beyond its Data Center 3.0 strategy in favor of a new architectural framework dubbed the Data Center Business Advantage, as the company continues to further its vision for the unified fabrics of the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS). The technological foundation of the Cisco Data Center Business Advantage, announced today, are essentially the same as those of the Data Center 3.0 strategy, but with some enhancements.

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On the unified fabric front, Cisco today unveiled its latest Nexus 5500 Series converged network switch, the Nexus 5548. The 1U-high, 10Gbps 48-port 5548 switch doubles the port density of previous generation 1U models for up to 960Gbps throughput, and offers 32, 1/10Gbps fixed SFP+ unified Ethernet/FCoE ports and one expansion slot.

The most notable enhancement Cisco has rolled out for the Nexus family is Unified Port technology, which the company says is intended to ease network design by allowing switch ports to be dynamically allocated as lossless Ethernet or Fibre Channel. Positioned as a single, high density and performance platform for the consolidation of LANs and storage, the Nexus 5548 with unified ports supports any transport over an Ethernet-based fabric, including Layer 2, Layer 3, and storage traffic (iSCSI, NAS, FC, RoE, and IBoE). The switch also supports Cisco’s FabricPath technology for improved scalability.

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A recently released feature for the Nexus’ NX-OS operating system, FabricPath is Cisco’s implementation of the emerging Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL) standard. Cisco claims FabricPath offers greater scalability and bandwidth than the spanning tree protocol it is designed to replace, making it suitable for large-scale virtualization and cloud computing deployments.

Beyond the new Nexus switch, Cisco has added other new products to the data center platform, including a compact blade for the UCS and a set of Unified Network Services delivered in both physical and virtual form factors. The products that fall under Cisco’s Unified Network Services offerings have been built to simplify management, provisioning and workload portability across network, compute and cloud environments, according to the company, and are billed as critical pieces of the Cisco Data Center Business Advantage strategy.

The first piece of the Unified Network Services offering is the Cisco Virtual Security Gateway (VSG) – a virtual appliance designed to provide security policies at the virtual machine (VM) level within and across VLANS and shared compute infrastructures in the data center. The VSG is implemented as software on the Nexus 1000V to provide policy-based controls and activity monitoring based on VM context. The second Unified Network Services product is a virtual version of the Cisco Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) WAN optimization appliance. The virtual Wide Area Application Services (vWAAS) is a virtual appliance that runs on the VMware ESX/ESXi hypervisor and Cisco UCS or other x86 based servers and accelerates network traffic over distances.

Further, Cisco has launched its UCS B230 M1 Blade Server, which delivers increased memory (32 DIMM slots for up to 512GB), performance (two Intel Xeon 7500 or 6500 Nehalem EX processors) and density (dual port converged I/O adapter for 20Gbps throughput) in a half-width blade server. The UCS blade also features two optional solid state disk (SSD) slots and is aimed at UCS customers with transaction-intensive database workloads, server virtualization and desktop virtualization applications.

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