Light Reading
Data center fabrics are proving quite the battleground, as Cisco prepares to counter the publicity Juniper's gotten for QFabric

Cisco Counters Fabric Challengers

Craig Matsumoto
News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto
3/30/2011
50%
50%

In a Webcast Wednesday, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) will try to convince the world (again) that it's already announced a game-changing data center fabric, countering the buzz that's lingered since Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) unveiled its QFabric architecture in February.

Cisco has a few new products to show off as well, including new cards for the Catalyst 6500 -- still relevant in the Data Center 3.0 era! -- and the Nexus 3000 family of switches for high-frequency financial trading and other ultra-low latency applications.

It's also adding some cloud-related capabilities, such as the ability to do switching between virtual machines without getting a hypervisor involved.

Much of Cisco's emphasis, though, will be on its claim of sticking to standards with its fabric, as opposed to the proprietary connections in QFabric. Cisco also thinks its approach is more flexible -- supporting arbitrary network topologies -- and has "greater scale than our competitors are offering," says Craig Griffin, a Cisco product manager.

It's worth noting that when asked about competitors' fabrics, Cisco executives emphasize that 10,000 customers are using NX-OS, the operating system behind the Nexus switches. Of course, that's a byproduct of having gotten to market earlier -- Brocade One from Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) is new, and Juniper's QFabric isn't shipping yet.

Why this matters
It seems like Cisco had to say something in the wake of Juniper's QFabric launch. Its unified fabric was first announced in 2008, part of what Cisco termed Data Center 3.0. That message is temporarily being overshadowed by newer, glossier marketing.

Brocade, Cisco, Juniper and possibly others could spend years in a standoff over their competing data-center architectures. For now, the debate is at a big-picture level; it's going to be interesting to see how that changes as more details of other fabrics, particularly Juniper's, get revealed.

For more
Fabric wars: It's on!



— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

(10)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
scottdTBR
50%
50%
scottdTBR,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:09:07 PM
re: Cisco Counters Fabric Challengers


Overall I thought it was a good presentation, although I was a little surprised at how much thought and production went into it and the fact that they trotted out so many high level execs. Do you think they were caught off guard by how much attention Juniper got with QFabric?

Pete Baldwin
50%
50%
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:09:07 PM
re: Cisco Counters Fabric Challengers


Cisco does have a couple of interesting items that got announced.


LISP (Location/ID separation) is a standard going through the IETF. Cisco uses it to create separate address spaces for a physical device and its location - basically untethering the device, allowing an IP address to migrate around the cloud to where resources are available. Seems like a useful idea.


The idea of extending FEX (fabric extenders) down to the VM level seems useful too. Adds a deeper level of simple portability in the cloud.


Cisco always likes to talk about a standards-based approach, but often that's referring to Cisco-born technologies that Cisco is guiding through the standards process. I wonder how much of that is in its fabric technologies.

quicktime
50%
50%
quicktime,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:09:05 PM
re: Cisco Counters Fabric Challengers


" 


Cisco always likes to talk about a standards-based approach, but often that's referring to Cisco-born technologies that Cisco is guiding through the standards process. I wonder how much of that is in its fabric technologies.


"


The problem is that other competitors just follow Cisco's approach and has no innovation. They only started the product development after Cisco shipped their box. Looks at reality, which vendor has the product on market before spreading the buzz word? The real product matters, and the buzz words are just some add-on ads in telecom/datacom market.


 


 


 

Pete Baldwin
50%
50%
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:09:02 PM
re: Cisco Counters Fabric Challengers


scottd -- i agree with you that it was long.  I didn't last through the whole thing.


I do think they were taken aback by the attention Juniper got, especially for a product that's not shipping yet (but at least it's close and does exist).  Cisco also needed to refresh several aspects of its data center story -- they had no super-low-latency switch for the data center, for instance, and that's something that competitors would have been able to really hammer on this year.

Pete Baldwin
50%
50%
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:09:01 PM
re: Cisco Counters Fabric Challengers


quicktime -- I understand what you're saying, but neither Brocade nor Juniper had an Ethernet story before 2008, so by definition they'd be doing this after Cisco did.


And the flip-side analysis, according to some reports I've been reading since Wednesday, is that Cisco fell behind in the data center since 2008 -- the Nexus 7000 needed updating, and there was no ultra-low-latency switch in the story. In the latter case, in particular, when you ask which vendor has the produt on market first ... it wasn't Cisco.

schlettie
50%
50%
schlettie,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:09:00 PM
re: Cisco Counters Fabric Challengers


Correction: LISP is advancing towards an Experimental RFC, not a Proposed Standard (a distinction that probably doesn't matter to most).


Don't hold your breathe waiting for Juniper to implement LISP.

quicktime
50%
50%
quicktime,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:08:56 PM
re: Cisco Counters Fabric Challengers


Check their MX series router.


 

Bob Saccamano
50%
50%
Bob Saccamano,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:08:56 PM
re: Cisco Counters Fabric Challengers


Foundry having been around for years doesn't count for Brocade in terms of having an Ethernet heritage before 2008?  Did Brocade fire everyone from Foundry?

ethermac
50%
50%
ethermac,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:08:50 PM
re: Cisco Counters Fabric Challengers


Hmmm? MX an "Ethernet Product" ? Sure, in the same way as an M320, or a CRS, it has Ethernet ports. But don't tell me you would be proposing your customer to use an MX in the datacenter in the same way as a Nexus or a BigIron.


 


 

scottdTBR
50%
50%
scottdTBR,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:08:50 PM
re: Cisco Counters Fabric Challengers


True, although the MX was originally focused purely on carriers and JNPR was somewhat late to the party on that one (although they made up ground quickly). Still, I think that experience and their routing heritage has played a key role in the company establishing itself as a top player in the data center. Bringing the same design principles they learned in the service provider space into their enterprise products allows them to tell a good story around TCO and keeps them out of the price-per-port discussion.


Unfortunately for Brocade I think many customers still view them as more of a Layer 2/commodity player (like Extreme).

Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
Flash Poll
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sales Director of INIT on Plug & Play Switch Devices

9|19|14   |   3:21   |   (0) comments


INIT Italy uses both the Huawei S5700 and S7700 series switches for the campus LAN environment. Sales Director Andrea Curti says their company chose these Huawei devices over others because of their performance, flexible scalability and plug-and-play features.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Arabia Upgrades Vocational Training System

9|19|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) has 100,000 students, 150 government-owned institutions and oversees 1000 private institutes. The CIO of TVTC explains that Huawei devices have allowed them to manage multiple datacenters using just one software program, scientifically tracking the progress of students and teachers, saving them millions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Media Solutions Are Here to Stay

9|19|14   |   4:35   |   (0) comments


The current media revolution requires rapid upgrades in technology. New formats (HD, 3D, 4K etc.) and the subsequent explosion of file sizes demand sophisticated network and storage architecture. Social media and the multiple distribution channels require a robust asset management system. Gartner analyst Venecia Liu speaks about the current technological trends in ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Microgenesis on Huawei's Switches

9|19|14   |   3:57   |   (0) comments


Microgenesis is a solutions and system integrator company in the Philippines whose areas of expertise include data centers, networking and security products. In this video, Executive Director Jeffrey Choa talks to us about his customers needs and they benefit from using Huawei switches.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Network Solutions Help the Philippines Jump Ahead

9|17|14   |   2:59   |   (0) comments


In the past, the Philippines has under-invested in technology. Now, the CEO of Softshell talks about how Huawei products help the Philippines jump ahead as the economy improves.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
VCS Observation for Safer Cities in the Netherlands

9|17|14   |   5:20   |   (0) comments


Holland's VCS Observation has been operating for 22 years. Its main goal is to get cities safer. CEO Wim van Deijzen tells us some of the challenges his company faces and how Huawei is helping to overcome these challenges.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
A Conversation With Serbia's Ministry of Interior

9|17|14   |   4:38   |   (0) comments


At HCC 2014, the Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia talks to us about his projects and corporation with Huawei. Solutions like Safe City and E-Government and services like cloud computing are just some of the areas his department is interested in.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
IHS Analyst Discusses eLTE at CCW 2014

9|10|14   |   7:09   |   (0) comments


Thomas Lynch, associate director of critical communications at IHS Technology, talks about broadband in critical communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
TCAA on Huawei eLTE: A Broadband Solution for Mission-Critical Communications

9|10|14   |   2:29   |   (0) comments


At CCW2014 in Singapore, the TCCA's Phil Kidner talks about the importance of broadband data for critical communications.
LRTV Custom TV
Spotlight on Cisco: SDN for Optical Networks

9|8|14   |   9:27   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Greg Nehib talks OpenFlow and more on the 'Software-Defined Networking for Optical Networks' panel at the Big Telecom Event in June 2014.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Evolved Programmable Network (EPN)

9|8|14   |   4:05   |   (0) comments


A look at the various demos Cisco showed at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event highlighting Cisco's EPN innovation and how SDN and NFV technologies are enabling a variety of new services.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Future of Ultra-Broadband, With Kevin Kelly (UBBF2014)

9|5|14   |   1:13   |   (1) comment


If you think the technological changes we've seen up to now are astounding, just wait until you see what the future has in store. Discuss upcoming breakthroughs with Kevin Kelly, Founding Executive Editor of Wired Magazine, at the Huawei Ultra-Broadband Forum on September 24.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 23, 2014, Denver, CO
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
A survey conducted by Vasona Networks suggests that 72% of mobile users expect good performance all the time, and they'll blame the network operator when it's not up to par.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
AT&T: We'll Bundle Fixed Wireless & DirecTV
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 9/15/2014
New NFV Forum Focused on Interoperability
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 9/16/2014
NFV & The Data Center: Top 10 Takeaways
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/18/2014
Connecticut Cities Crowdsource Gigabit Nets
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 9/15/2014
Pics: LR's Women in Telecom Breakfast
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/16/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed