Cisco Debuts New Nexus ACI Switches

While Software Defined Networking (SDN) focuses largely on the idea of separating hardware and software networking functions, hardware still remains an important component. For networking giant Cisco and its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), hardware is front and center.

This week Cisco announced the Nexus 9516, which is a large 21 Rack-Unit (RU) chassis box with support for up toNexus ACI 2,304 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports. Going a step further, the Nexus 9516 supports up to 576 x 40 GbE ports. In total, Cisco claims the Nexus 9516 can deliver up to 60 Terabits per second (Tbps) of nonblocking throughput performance.

Cisco is also announcing the Nexus 9504, a 13 RU chassis providing up to 1,152 x 10 GbE and 288 x 40 GbE ports. In total, the Nexus 9504 promises up to 30 Tbps of nonblocking throughput performance.

The new Nexus 9500 platform extends the ACI-ready switching portfolio from Cisco. The first Nexus 9500 chassis were announced by Cisco in November of 2013 during the official ACI launch.

Frank D’Agostino, senior director of technical marketing at Cisco, told Enterprise Networking Planet that the Nexus 9516 will have full support for VXLAN bridging, an emerging SDN requirement. VXLAN is a networking standard that Cisco has been helping drive forward since 2011. VXLAN enables a traditional Layer 2 network to be extended over a Layer 3 network.

While Cisco’s ACI approach has benefits for large data center deployments where massive switch density is needed, there is also a need for smaller scale density as well.

“Some customers want very high density, highly aggregated architectures like the Nexus 9516, but some want to do a disaggregated switch environment,” D’Agostino said. “So we need to have platform density at the high end as well as platforms that support the disaggregated model as well.”

To that end, Cisco is also introducing the new Nexus 3164Q switch. The Nexus 3164Q is a 2RU chassis that supports up to 256 x 10 GbE ports.

The new Nexus 9516, 9504 and 3164Q switches are not replacing any existing switches in the Cisco portfolio, according to D’Agostino. The Cisco Nexus 7000 series as well as Cisco ASR routers are all able to brought into the ACI operations model as well.

“We’re not targeting any replacement. It’s really just a customer preference on what they want to use,” D’Agostino said. “Some customers want to leverage line card capabilities and do incremental updates, and some customers will be looking to do net new updates.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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