New Cisco platform family targets the datacentre

There's channel opportunity around the server consolidation and virtualisation trend, says the networking vendor

With a new family of datacentre switches, Cisco Systems is seeking to capitalise on the transition of the datacentre to a more services-centric model, and assist network managers in orchestrating virtual IT resources and scaling workloads.

Centred around Cisco's Data Centre 3.0 vision, the new offerings include the Cisco Nexus 7000 series, its flagship datacentre-class switching platform combining Ethernet, IP and storage capabilities across a unified network fabric.

"We are expanding and evolving the approach that we have taken to the datacentre market," director of product marketing, datacentre solutions for Cisco, Dante Malagrino, said. "What we're doing with the Nexus family is taking a lot of the expertise we've developed to enable new unified fabric applications to allow customers to run their datacentres more efficiently."

The Nexus family of datacentre class switching products will be expanded over time, with the 7000 series as the flagship offering. The scalable modular platform delivers up to 15 terabits per second of switching capability in a single chassis, with a unified fabric architecture to enable datacentre consolidation and virtualisation. The offering has also been designed specifically for the datacentre, with improved airflow, integrated cable management and resilient platform architecture.

A key part of the Nexus family, says Malagrino, is a new advanced operating system, the NX-OS. It has been purpose-built to maximize datacentre resilience and consolidate disparate networks, and combines features from a number of Cisco offerings, including SAN-OS and Layer 4 routing protocols, through the familiar Cisco IOS interface. Malagrino says simplified IT management and operational continuity are differentiating factors. Nexus has been designed to support more operational models, and software can be upgraded, even remotely, without taking a switch offline.

"Efficiency is a very key differentiator of these solutions," said Malagrino.

Initially, Cisco says the Nexus 7000 series has been designed for large enterprise datacentres and service providers. Large enterprises have the most demanding datacentres and biggest requirements for scale, support, virtualised environments and power efficiency. And service providers are amongst the largest enterprise datacentres.

"Many organizations are moving away from a siloed organizational model and are beginning to introduce the concept of a datacentre practice, driven in part by the deployment of server virtualisation technologies," said Malagrino. "This becomes true for a systems integrator or channel partner trying to have the same end user deploy their products."

Cisco has two partner specialisations around the datacentre, the Advanced Datacentre Network Infrastructure Specialization and the Advanced Datacentre Storage Infrastructure Specialisation. The former will be updated to include content covering the Nexus 7000 series of products director of datacentre solutions, worldwide channels, Cisco Systems, John Growdon, said.

"There's a very large opportunity for our channel partners because you've got a market that's in transition," Growdon said. "The partners that are able to sell a solution from an end to end standpoint on the network infrastructure will be able to differentiate themselves from other partners that don't have that capability."

To consolidate and virtualise a datacentre requires a lot of professional services, noted Growdon, and the only way customers will be able to accomplish this consolidation virtualisation is by working with channel partners and vendors.

"Consequently, there will be a lot of professional services opportunities to work customers through how they do the consolidation and virtualisation," he said.

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