November 4, 2013
Visions for the next-generation datacenter are expected to come a little closer to reality this week with a much-anticipated announcement from Cisco Systems regarding its Insieme venture. However, other datacenter infrastructure vendors have also swooped in to steal a little of Cisco's thunder.
First, what we know from industry chatter about Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)'s announcement: The company is set for the Wednesday launch of its Application-Centric Infrastructure, featuring the Nexus switch family from Insieme. The announcement is coming about one month after much of the industry expected it to take place at Interop New York in early October (maybe all the attention being focused on Light Reading's Ethernet & SDN Expo that week discouraged Cisco from vain attempts to grab the spotlight). Insieme is the so-called spin-in (majority-owned by Cisco) that first caused a stir more than a year and a half ago, when it was identified as Cisco' secret-but-not-so-secret SDN project. (See Cisco Outlines an SDN Plan, Cisco Drops Hints About Insieme & SDN, and Cisco's Insieme Doesn't Like Your SDN Model.)
Since then, Cisco has been particular about not associating Insieme -- and, really, many other Cisco products -- with the term "SDN," perhaps because of the perception its infrastructure market success could be hobbled as SDN architectures take hold, or maybe because what Insieme's doing has more to do with infrastructure and hardware programmability than it does with SDN controllers or overlays. Anyway, we'll find out for sure on Wednesday.
The long countdown to Insieme's unveiling has left something of a datacenter infrastructure news void that Cisco's rivals have been only too happy to fill. First, Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) last week announced its SDN-ready MetaFabric, a switching and routing fabric to be applied both inside datacenters and between multiple datacenters. (See Juniper Unveils Datacenter MetaFabric.)
At the same time, Juniper also announced new QFX switches for the datacenter, support in its Contrail SDN controller for VMware hypervisors, and an architecture plan for how MetaFabric could be used through its MX Series 3D routers and over Ethernet VPNs to support SDN applications between multiple datacenters. For its part, Juniper told Light Reading that its announcement had been planned for late October long before Cisco had settled on November 6 for its news.
Also, just this week, Arista Networks Inc. took its swipe at Cisco-Insieme, announcing its new 7000X switches for its single-tier Spline Network architecture for datacenters. In its press release, Arista makes some direct comparisons between its datacenters switches and Cisco's saying its new 7300 switches can be used in pairs to deliver more 10G and 40G port density and higher total system capacity at lower power than a single Cisco Catalyst 6509E switch. (See Arista Announces Datacenter Switches.)
These are all complex architecture announcements that the datacenter sector no doubt will be sorting out for weeks to come, but one thing is clear from the timing of announcements from Cisco, Juniper, and Arista -- the infrastructure re-imagining for the next-generation datacenter has begun, and it's not just about software and virtualization.
— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading
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