Cisco’s New Beast Mode: Investment Protection

has made a number of storage networking announcements — including a code-named “” — that feature a capability that is seldom offered by Tier one vendors with a stranglehold on their customers — a seamless upgrade path. The typical approach is ‘rip and replace’, selling the latest capabilities at the cost of throwing out the buyer’s existing investment in products (money, services, money, expertise, money, etc.). Known as vendor (or proprietary or customer) lock-in, it is one of the first items on the customer’s checklist when searching for new vendors.

The new offerings, that include the 40G Nexus 5672UP-176G and UCS Fabric Interconnect 6300 Series, are what’s commonly referred to as future proof, or providing investment protection. The Beast is a great example, according to Adarsh Viswanathan, Senior Manager, Product Management and Marketing for Storage, Cisco.

The  MDS 9718 Multilayer Director is the industry’s first 32G-ready SAN Director that supports native REST API, as well as scaling up to 768 ports of 16G FC. “When you put The Beast in  your datacenter, you’re putting it in for 5-7 years operations,” he told IT Trends & Analysis. According to the company, the programmable 9718 ‘is architected and built to last 10 plus years’ supporting 10G, 16G, 40G speeds today and ‘32G in the near future’, and offers 3x the performance and 200% more ports than the competitors.

It’s still early days for 32Gb on the storage side, said Viswanathan. The majority of the market is still doing 8Gb, with 35-40% doing 16Gb, and that segment is growing fast. While Cisco plans to make some 32Gb announcements later this year, he believes it won’t really take off on the storage side until 2017-18. The Beast customers can start off at 16Gb, and when they’re ready to upgrade, they just have to install some software and they’re ready to go (and maybe the odd 3sGb line card or two).

According to a canned quote from Deni Connor, founding analyst, Storage/Systems Strategies NOW, storage pros are dealing with storage growth and network infrastructure convergence, as well as having to support cloud and flash storage-based services. “Cisco’s multi-protocol innovations across Cisco MDS, Nexus and UCS product lines will help customers meet organizational growth and more quickly adapt to business priorities.”

Key use cases for The Beast include: grow and consolidate; port expansion; and flash deployment, said Viswanathan. Large enterprises and financial services companies love the 9718’s footprint and storage. He also expects the UCS announcement will continue to drive Cisco’s datacenter server sales.

“We’re giving them products they can use today plus give them protection down the road,” said Viswanathan. “We’re setting IT up for the next 10 years down the road.”

The Fiddly Bits
16G Cisco MDS 9718 Multilayer Director: The MDS 9718 allows customers to easily grow and consolidate SAN environments, addressing the most stringent requirements for large virtualized data center storage, including Flash and Cloud-based services. It delivers the industry’s highest port density with 768 line rate 16G Fiber Channel ports (or 10G ports, or 384 40G ports)for highest scalability. Collapsed core architecture reduces the number of managed switches needed for SAN consolidation, and NX-OS support for the REST API standard enables programmability and network customizatio

40 Gigabit FCoE Line Card for Cisco MDS Storage Directors: Customers can now upgrade their SAN fabric between access and core to 40 Gigabit FCoE, achieving 294 percent of the data rate of 16G true Fibre Channel bandwidth. The 40G upgrade on the access and core inter-switch connectivity can be done for FC as well as FCoE customers. In addition to significant bandwidth improvements, upgrading to 40 Gigabit with the new line card: Reduces data center cabling and the data center footprint; relieves ISL congestion and reduces ISL oversubscription; provides unified access with 40 Gigabit uplinks and 16 Gigabit connectivity to storage arrays; enables smooth cabling management because Cisco’s patented BiDi transceiver technology supports existing cable in the data center; and offers greater ability for access control, zoning and port security implemented at the application level with the N port identifier virtualization (NPIV) feature. NPIV allows multiple FC IDs to be assigned to a single N port, and core support is     enabled with the Nexus 5600 NPV mode connected to rack-mounted servers.

Nexus 5672UP-16G Data Center Switch and Nexus 2348UPQ Fabric Extender: The Nexus 5672UP-16G is the ideal choice for convergence, enabling 16G Fiber Channel, 40G FCoE and 40G all from the same platform. The Nexus 5672UP-16G supports 24 ports of 8/16G FC, 6 ports of 40G FCoE, and 24 ports of 1/10 . With 40 Gigabit FCoE, it provides 294 percent of the data rate of 16G, and optimizes data center unified access with high performance 40 Gigabit uplinks and 16G connectivity to Storage arrays.

The Cisco Nexus 2348UPQ fabric extender complements the Nexus 5672UP-16G, enabling scale and support for FC, FCoE and Ethernet, while reducing space and increasing manageability for converged fabrics. It is a versatile platform for multiprotocol storage (ISCSI, NAS, FC, FcoE) and LAN connectivity for converged and hyper-converged clouds. It can scale up to 96 16G FC ports, even on Cisco legacy Nexus 5600 platforms.

Cisco UCS Fabric Interconnect 6300 Series and Fabric Extender 2304: The third-generation UCS Fabric Interconnect provides high performance, low latency & lossless fabric with dramatic performance improvements over the previous 6200 Series FIs. The 6300 Series offers: 2.6Xincrease in throughput; 3X lower latency; High-density 40GbE ports that enable an end-to-end 40 Gigabit solution

The Fabric Interconnect 6300 Series employs the UCS Fabric, VIC and UCS Manager to enable a high-performance, low latency and lossless fabric architecture for     high capacity data centers. The Fabric Interconnect 6300 series adds to Cisco’s successful Fabric Interconnect 6200 series to deploy 40Gb, 40G FCoE, and 16Gb FC to further bandwidth capacity and provide for an adaptable data center fabric. The 6300 Series features two new 1RU 40Gb switches and a new 40Gb Fabric Extender. The Cisco UCS Classic 5108 Modular Chassis connects to a pair of Cisco UCS Fabric Interconnects with UCS Manager, providing easy, fast scalability with industry-leading UCS management.

Cisco Software Management: Cisco‘s comprehensive 40G switching portfolio, including Nexus data center switches and MDS SAN directors, and UCS is powered by a common NX-OS operating system.The latest REST API implementation of Cisco NX-OS allows for programmatic access to MDS. MDS can now be set to publish the output of the API calls, aiding simpler scripting and more effective programming. NXAPI offers close to a 10x improvement over SNMP queries and can be used to automate network functions, troubleshoot and customize deployments. Cisco has added features to its Cisco’s Data Center Network Manager (DCNM) software (Release 7.3x) to enhance SAN monitoring and provisioning capabilities for the newly released products, thus efficiently implementing, visualizing and managing end-to-end LAN and SAN.

Author: Steve Wexler

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