Cisco Turns Up the Heat on Data Center Switching

Cisco Systems is releasing myriad products as 10 Gigabit Ethernet technology gains broader acceptance.

With 10 Gigabit Ethernet prices coming down and data center performance requirements going up, Cisco Systems moved to grab greater IT mindshare in preparation for broader market acceptance of the high speed networking technology.

Cisco on Sept. 25 launched a higher-density 10 Gigabit Ethernet module for its Catalyst 6500 to that doubles the number of ports, increases performance by 60 percent and reduces the cost per port for its Catalyst 10 Gigabit Ethernet offering by about 30 percent.

Along with the new 8-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet module, Cisco also added a new Catalyst switch blade for servers from Fujitsu and created a community interface for users who develop automation scripts based on the Cisco IOS Embedded Event Manager to allow the users to share scripts with each other.

To attract data center operators to its switching platforms, Cisco emphasized improved port densities for better scalability, better manageability and greater resiliency, according to Marie Hattar, senior director of network systems marketing at Cisco in San Jose, Calif.

That message resonates with Cisco data center users at Orbitz Worldwide.

/zimages/5/28571.gifTo read more about Catalyst 10 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, click here.

"The way were using their technology provides us with five nines availability. They allow us to train the staff on the switches in a very effective way. Their software is very reliable and helps us with our operational excellence goals," said Bahman Koohestani, CIO at the Chicago-based company.

Cisco equipment was selected for its port density, according to Koohestani.

Ciscos modular IOS software, which includes the Embedded Event Manager, can be upgraded without taking a switch out of service, for example.

And although the new module can be over-subscribed, Cisco sought to ensure better availability under heavy loads by increasing the buffer size of the module from 16MB per port to 200MB per port.

Cisco with the new Catalyst module is hoping to catch competitors such as Force10 Networks and Foundry Networks in the data center, believes Zeus Kerravala, industry analyst with The Yankee Group in Boston.

Its been primarily a Force10/Foundry race in high performance computing and data center networking. Cisco has managed to sell product in there as a result of its brand, but they havent had a competitive product until now," he said.

The new Cisco Catalyst Blade Switch 3040 for the Fujitsu Siemens Computers PRIMERGY Blade Server Series chassis joins existing co-branded switch blades for servers from Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

The new Cisco Beyond scripting community allows users who have created their own automation scripts to share those "best practices" with others, according to Hattar.

It is a Web-based file sharing system where users, Cisco partners and others can download and share their EEM scripts.

"The idea is that customers benefit from each others experience," said Hattar. It will be available in November.

The new eight-port Catalyst 6500 is available now and the new Catalyst 3040 Blade Switch for the Fujitsu blade server is due by October.

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