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Cisco UCS 2.0: Flashy new data center servers revealed

Jim Duffy | Jan. 24, 2014
Cisco this week unveiled the second generation of its successful data center server system with versions that incorporate solid state flash memory designed to speed data access and cut power usage.

Each management layer can share information with the other, however.

For scale, UCS Director supports management of 50,000 virtual machines in large data centers, Cisco says. It also now includes a software developer's kit for extensibility to the applications of third-party software vendors, and support for HP, Dell and IBM servers. It also supports management of network equipment from Brocade and F5, and Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisors in addition to those from VMware.

Cisco extends Nexus switching line
In switching, Cisco unveiled a six-slot, 9RU chassis for the Nexus 7700 line. The Nexus 7706 is targeted at small core, aggregation and data center interconnect applications, with a switching capacity of 21Tbps, 192 ports of 1/10G, 48 ports of 40G and nine ports of 100G Ethernet.

The existing Nexus 7718 and 7710 support switching capacities of 83Tbps and 42Tbps, respectively, and 1/10G densities of 768 ports and 384 ports.

Cisco also rolled out a 10G "F3" module for the Nexus 7700 line that is designed for core, spine, leaf, data center interconnect and SAN connectivity. It features programmability via OpenFlow, Cisco's onePK, Python and XML APIs, and consumes 35% less power than previous generation "F2" modules for the Nexus 7000 line.

Cisco also unveiled its eventual successor to the Nexus 5500 access/leaf switches with the Nexus 5600. The 5600 features 72 Unified Ports ports that support Ethernet, Fibre Channel, or Fibre Channel-over-Ethernet or 128 10G ports, with six or 12 40G ports, respectively. The 5600s feature 1 microsecond latency, VXLAN bridging and routing, OpenFlow, onePK, Python and XML programmability, and can scale to 1,152 ports through fabric extenders, Cisco says.

Some analysts believe Cisco should explain which APIs and protocols to use with certain applications or requirements when programming the switch.

"This should become a workhorse switch for them," says Zeus Kerravala, principal at ZK Research. "But when should users use one programming method vs. the other? Cisco offers the broadest toolkit out there, but when to use what?"

Unified Ports have also now been added to the Nexus 6000 40G switching line. The Nexus 6004 can now support 20 ports of 2/4/8G Fibre Channel, or 1/10G Ethernet, or 10G FCoE, Cisco says.

Cisco also added a new member to the Nexus 3100 access/leaf line of switches, which are based on merchant silicon. The 3172TQ supports 72 10GBase-T ports and can function as a VXLAN top-of-rack switch. It also supports OpenStack orchestration and provisioning, Cisco says.

Support for OpenStack (an open source cloud computing platform) has also been added to the Nexus 1000V virtual switch, which now supports KVM hypervisors in addition to its current VMware and Hyper-V support.

Lastly, Cisco added Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) partners. They write applications for Cisco's APIC controller, which delegates and enforces application policies in an ACI fabric comprised of Cisco's new Nexus 9000 switches.


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