Cisco Nexus 9000 update 2016
This blog is about recent updates on the Cisco Nexus 9000 series datacenter switches. This describes my view on the switches and technologies.
Nexus 9000 series is currently Cisco’s flagship on datacenter networking. This is today and still for tomorrow. Mounting the Nexus 9000 switches should be the last physical and configuration work you’ve done in the (future?) datacenter. All upcoming tasks (aka.. Configuring and provisioning the switches) should be done automatically by any automation tool. We have to move from our traditional networking tools to more automating and orchestration tools from today on. Nobody wants or has time to manually configure all these switches like in the old days.
The Nexus 9000 series switches are ready to achieve this with many on-the-box features like automation with PoAP, REST CALL with NXAPI and the “unix-way of management”. This, to program and configure the network / fabric.
An even better way is a programmable fabric. A fabric is mostly IP based on VXLAN EVPNs and adds a tool for simplifying the network. The tools available for this are: Cisco Nexus Fabric Manager and Cisco Virtual Topology Systems for managing overlay. Off course, other (3th party tools) are available too. These tools helps you to create and manage a programmable fabric which is easier to implement, configure and program.
The ultimate fabric is a Cisco ACI fabric. This is a SDN architecture (IP underlay with VXLAN and managed with APIC). ACI does have many new innovations like the policy model, any kind of connectivity, centralized management and a lot of data plane enhancements. ACI is a turnkey solution (it cannot be changed) but this is a strong thing: almost all datacenter networks can be implemented in a Cisco ACI network. This means, ACI is ready for any kind of customers. ACI was for large datacenter networks in the beginning. But today, ACI is ready for smaller datacenters. SDN is for everyone, not just for the large datacenters.
Off course, the Nexus 9000 series switches are used as datacenter core. But… Nexus 9000 series switches can be placed in the datacenter edge block. It’s cost-effective, it can stretch the VXLAN EVPNS to the edge and can be centrally managed. The new (2nd) generation Cisco Nexus 9k switches do have Cisco produced ASICS. Broadcom ASICS where used on the 1st generation series. These new ASICS provides more scalability on all features and especially for analytics. If you still require OTV technology for your DCI, the Nexus 7000 series switches with M3 cards can be fit in the Edge block.
As a routing device, you can place ASR 1k and 9k routers for the best and fastest routing solutions. But… There are NCS 5000 switches, these are developed as a DC edge device. It’s cost effective, IOS-XR base and does have less features as the ASR routers. If your routing requirements are not that high, you have to take a look at the NCS 5000 or NCS 5500. This router can adapt in your existing MPLS WAN network to connect your datacenter.
If you require analytics on your switch, you have to choose the Nexus 9300-EX series switches. The analytics features on the 9200 series are less (or not) available. Remember: the 9200 series are NX-OS mode only and do not support ACI or analytics or even FEX switches.
Taking a look into line cards: the X9400 (broadcom asic) and X9700 (Cisco asic) are available today. The X9700 line card does have more features because of the Cisco asic but is equal in price as the X9400.