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.
Fabric wars: It's on!
- Brocade Responds to Juniper's QFabric
- How Q-ute! Juniper's QFabric Rethinks the Data Center
- Brocade Flattens Out
- Brocade Takes Aim at Nexus
- Juniper Gets 'New' With Data Centers
- Testing Cisco's Media-Centric Data Center
- Cisco Beckons Carriers to the Cloud
- Cisco Dreams of Data Center Unity
- Cisco's Nexus Targets Data Center's Future
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading