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Testing Cisco's Media-Centric Data Center

Light Reading

The tests documented in this report showed us that Cisco has a clear plan for its data center products. Service providers have to expand their service offerings to both residential and business customers to stay competitive and to increase their customer retention. While the network is the backbone of these IP video deployments, the data center is the brains. Without content, the backbone is going to be a pretty boring place.

So service providers, having to accommodate the plethora of services and the disk-space-hungry applications, must extend their data centers, and we saw that Cisco is positioned to support their needs. The Cisco story here is clear: First migrate to storage area networks and run your applications over the network. Then, since you’re already using SAN, why not use some of the virtualization options in the market and, while you are at it, be "greener." Next, you can make the lives of your operations staff simpler and, with two control plane modules in your data center switches, you will be able to enjoy hitless software upgrades and won't lose valuable services revenues when the control plane fails.

IP video applications are much less accommodating than best-effort Internet applications. A failure anywhere in the path between the application server and user is a potential cause for a torrent of calls to the support hotline. It is reassuring to see that Cisco has considered the complete path in its IP video solution.

An operator can never know who is watching an IP video program in the middle of the night, exactly when the “maintenance window” is open. These days are now gone and they are not coming back. The services have to be up and running, and the subscribers or businesses depending on them will show much less sympathy to the provider having to upgrade code or experiencing failures. So Cisco’s high-availability options seem to fit well with the service requirements.

We would have loved to spend more time with the data center systems and run them through rigorous FCoE and Ethernet tests. With Spirent’s recent Virtual TestCenter announcement (sadly, a month too late for our testing) one can imagine a whole new set of virtualization performance and scalability testing. We sure hope that in the next testing campaign we will get to explore these aspects in depth.

— Carsten Rossenhövel is Managing Director of the European Advanced Networking Test Center AG (EANTC) , an independent test lab in Berlin. EANTC offers vendor-neutral network test facilities for manufacturers, service providers, and enterprises. He heads EANTC's manufacturer testing, certification group, and interoperability test events. Carsten has over 15 years of experience in data networks and testing. His areas of expertise include Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), Carrier Ethernet, Triple Play, and Mobile Backhaul.

— Jambi Ganbar is a Project Manager at EANTC. He is responsible for the execution of projects in the areas of Triple Play, Carrier Ethernet, Mobile Backhaul, and EANTC's interoperability events. Prior to EANTC, Jambi worked as a network engineer for MCI's vBNS and on the research staff of caida.org.

— Jonathan Morin is a Senior Test Engineer at EANTC, focusing both on proof-of-concept and interop test scenarios involving core and aggregation technologies. Jonathan previously worked for the UNH-IOL.

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:00:46 PM
re: Testing Cisco's Media-Centric Data Center

A statement was made,  "We accepted that for the major upgrade we would run all traffic except telepresence, digital signage, and IP video surveillance, leaving IP video, VoIP, and Internet traffic traversing one Nexus 7000, and VoIP and Internet traffic traversing the other Nexus 7000?."


Why was this "accepted"?



User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:00:23 PM
re: Testing Cisco's Media-Centric Data Center

Hi Iron58,

We accepted turning off the traffic profiles representing telepresence, digital signage, and IP video surveillance as part of the major upgrade test procedure due to the lack of Virtual Port Channel support in the earlier code from which we were upgrading (this is disclosed in the article).  Since traffic was still traversing the Device Under Test (Nexus 7000) we could perform the test without those streams.

Apologies for the late response. Too much travel...

Thanks, Carsten/EANTC

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