Cisco switch consolidates functions in the datacentre

Cisco has announced the Nexus 5000 series of server access switches for use in datacentres to consolidate storage, networking and virtualisation functions.

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Cisco has announced the Nexus 5000 series of server access switches for use in datacentres to consolidate storage, networking and virtualisation functions.

The switch unifies Fibre Channel over Ethernet with Datacentre Ethernet and virtualisation capabilities, which should reduce by 30% to 50% the cost of datacentre cabling and cooling costs, as well as staff oversight, Cisco officials said via a Webcast from the Cisco Partner Summit in Honolulu.

The first new switch in the series, the Nexus 5020, will be available in May for US$900 (£450) a port. The switch starts with a base configuration of 40 ports, each running 10 Gigabit Ethernet, that can be expanded to 56 ports with the insertion of two out of three available modules, said Dante Malagrino, director of datacentre product marketing, in a separate interview. One of the three other modules comes with eight Fibre Channel ports.

Cisco said it is working with a long list of partners, including Dell, EMC, VMware and Intel, which are providing a variety of products that integrate with the Nexus 5000 switches for virtualisation, storage software or even cable connectors.

Malagrino said the storage software licenses will be sold separately, and pricing was unavailable.

In addition to reducing the total footprint of devices in the datacentre, thereby lowering cable and cooling costs, Malagrino said IT managers will be able to use existing management tools for oversight, including Cisco's traditional IOS management software or its newer Datacentre Network Manager product, as well as its Cisco Fabric Manager tool for storage management.

Cisco has been in the process of announcing new products to integrate functions with the datacentrefor a year, and announced the Cisco Nexus 7000 in January. The new Nexus 5000 switches will interoperate with the Nexus 7000 or the Cisco Catalyst 6500. In addition, the Nexus 5000 can connect to storage area network devices in the Cisco MDS 9000 series.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group, said the Nexus 5000 is the "first product that actually addresses the ... convergence of networks and computing." The switching series will separate Cisco from other networking vendors, he added.

"I've been waiting for other datacentre network vendors to articulate a strategy like this and the only other one that has begun is Brocade. This should also be part of Foundry and Juniper's strategy," he said.

The Nexus 5000 Series came out of a collaboration between Cisco and Nuova Systems, of which Cisco owns 80%. Cisco said it plans to acquire the remaining 20% of Nuova, based in San Jose, by the end of June. The networking company has invested $70 million in Nuova, Cisco officials said.

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