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Cisco Ethernet switches make big leap to 40/100G

Cisco this week unveiled significant extensions to both of its major switching lines with the addition of 40/100G Ethernet capabilities.

The enhancements are intended to address the growth of 10G Ethernet in data centers, which Dell’Oro Group forecasts will be the major revenue contributor to Ethernet switching in the next five years. Growth in 10G necessitates larger pipes between switches to aggregate those links and forward traffic at faster rates to alleviate congestion and keep network operations running optimally, especially with trends like cloud, video and mobility sending more packets in all different directions.

IT’S STANDARD: 40/100G Ethernet standard ratifiedBACKGROUND: 15 more useful Cisco sites 

Cisco is adding 40G Ethernet to its Catalyst 6500 switching line, and 40/100G Ethernet to its Nexus 7000 switch to aggregate 40G at the core, and interconnect data centers to service providers.

Cisco also rolled out two fixed configuration switches for high-density 10G Ethernet in campus aggregation and data center top-of-rack deployments.

And in an effort to bring legacy infrastructures into the virtual world, Cisco unveiled network virtualization capabilities for its Catalyst 6500, 4500 and ASR 1000 product lines, as well as a new data center appliance for scalable virtual services.

Cisco is offering two modules for the Nexus 7000: a two-port 100G Ethernet board, which would provide the switch with up to 32 non-blocking 100G Ethernet ports; and a six-port 40G Ethernet module which would provide up to 96 non-blocking 40G ports for the switch.

Of the major switching vendors, only Brocade is offering 100G Ethernet on a core platform -- its MLX series switching routers. Several other vendors are already offering 40G fixed, modular and uplink ports on their switches.

The technology has yet to go gangbusters though.

"We see sporadic implementation" of 40/100G Ethernet, says Jon Oltsik, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. "Cisco’s one of the first big players to go mainstream with it. It’s good for marketing – they’ll be perceived as a high-performance vendor."

Cisco also unveiled the Nexus 3064-X, which had been expected. The 3064-X is aimed at low latency financial services environments and features 48 1/10G Ethernet ports plus four 40G links.And the company’s Nexus 1000V virtual switch, which resides on blade servers like the Cisco Unified Computing System, now supports the Virtual Extensible LAN (VXLAN) workload scaling capability Cisco announced last summer.

VXLAN is also new in Cisco’s Nexus 1010 new virtual services appliance. The VXLAN version is  called the Nexus 1010-X and it is a dedicated hardware platform for provisioning and scaling network services in virtualized environments, like data centers and clouds.

For the campus environment and the Catalyst line, Cisco unveiled the Catalyst 6900 Series 40 Gigabit Ethernet Interface Module for the flagship Catalyst 6500 switch. It allows the switch to support up to 44 40G ports.

Cisco also rolled out the Catalyst 4500-X, a fixed aggregation switch targeted at space-constrained campus networks. It supports up to 40 10G Ethernet ports and 1.6Tbps of switching capacity through Cisco’s Virtual Switching System redundancy technique. It also includes support for Medianet video and NetFlow analysis services.

Lastly, Cisco unveiled software for its campus switches and routers designed to simplify network virtualization. Cisco Easy Virtual Network (EVN) runs on the Catalyst 6500 and 4500 switches, and ASR 1000 edge router, and allows operators to more easily create separate logical networks on a single physical infrastructure.

And in the data center, Cisco added features to the Nexus NX-OS operating system such as PowerOn Auto-Provisioning and Python scripting to customize network behavior based on events as they happen. These features are now available on Nexus 3000 series platforms, and planned for the Nexus 2000 and 5000 switches.

The 40/100G modules for the Nexus 7000 will be available in the second quarter. The 6900 module for the Catalyst 6500 will be available in April. The Nexus 3064-X will be available in March.

Read more about lan and wan in Network World's LAN & WAN section.


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