Cisco, HP ratchet up data centre battle

Data centre showdown as each company invades the other's territory.

The server module for HP ProCurve's 8200 and 5400 zl switches is called the ProCurve One Services zl Module. It is based on an Intel T7500 Core 2 Duo processor with 4GB of memory, 4GB of flash memory, and a 250GB hard drive.

It sports two 10G Ethernet connections to switch backplane, and future capabilities include virtualization, scalability, other form factors, and closer coupling with the switch management and forwarding plane, HP says.

The modules runs software applications from Microsoft (security and network access), McAfee (Web security, filtering and IPS), Avaya (unified communications), F5 (application delivery control and load balancing), Riverbed (WAN optimization) and others. The zl module can only run one application per module, however, but two modules can run in one 8200 or 5400 switch chassis.

City College of San Francisco is using the zl module to run a network monitoring application from HP partner InMon Corp.

"InMon's Traffic Sentinel on the module handled all the sFlow reporting we threw at it with lower CPU utilization rates than our production server," says Glen Van Lehn, network engineer at the college.

"This gave me a server with zero footprint -- no extra space (assuming empty slot), no extra electrical outlets or UPS outlets, and no extra Ethernet ports as the two 10 Gigabit interfaces plug directly into the backplane," he says.

The 6600 switches are priced from US$4,699 to $17,999 and will be available in the first half of this year. The Services zl Module costs $5,995 and will be available in February.

To protect its own data center turf, Cisco is rolling out the Nexus 7018, Nexus 5010 and Nexus 2000 Fabric Extenders. The Nexus 7018 joins the Nexus 7000 Series with an 18-slot chassis that provides up to 16 I/O module slots supporting up to 512 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports -- twice the density of the Nexus 7010, which debuted a year ago.

The Nexus 5010 is a 28-port, 1RU switch supporting 10 Gigabit Ethernet, Cisco's version of a lossless Data Center Ethernet (DCE), FibreChannel over Ethernet (FCoE), and FibreChannel. These features enable it to consolidate traffic from local area networks, storage area networks and server clusters onto a single unified fabric, Cisco says.

The Nexus 2000 Series Fabric Extender is intended to support an increasing number of servers and increased demand for bandwidth from each server. The Nexus 2148T Fabric Extenders connect to dual Cisco Nexus 5020 sSwitches and are designed to improve scalability by supporting up to 2,496 Gigabit Ethernet servers.

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