Wednesday, January 30, 2008

New Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Eyes SaaS and Video

Cisco Systems, Inc. is upping the ante on data center bandwidth with its new Nexus 7000 series of switching products due to ship later this year. The new benchmark is 15 Tbps (Terabits per second) in a single chassis. To put that in terms of bandwidths we experience every day, that's 15,000 Gbps. At that speed, you could suck the Internet dry in seconds. Well, at least the searchable databases you can access today. Don't get too overwhelmed by this benchmark, though. It's likely to become the rule rather than the exception before too long.

What's with the need for speed? The primary driver is the move from static data to video as a way to communicate. Long distance telephone service, the reason nationwide networks were developed in the first place, gets lost in the packet shuffle on high speed IP networks. Not that voice services don't need care and feeding to maintain their integrity on converged networks. It's just that a 64 Kbps VoIP stream is truly nothing compared with the flood of packets needed to support high definition video feeds.

Standard and high definition video, including telepresence, video conferencing, Web site video feeds, and real time creative content represents a shift in media. It's the same type of shift that took us from newspapers to radio to television. Video won't replace text, graphics and audio feeds. It will add to them. You can see this on many commercial Web sites now. You can either read a story or have the option to see a video interview.

Another trend driving data center bandwidth is SaaS or Software as a Service. SaaS replaces the model of buying and locally hosting software packages by instead accessing applications via the Web as needed. The advantage of this approach is that the IT department isn't constantly scrambling to install, deploy and maintain a myriad of software packages. The service provider takes care of all that. Server capacity requirements are traded off for bandwidth demands that add to network load. This is especially true for WAN bandwidth, the pipe that connects a company to the outside world. That Wide Area Network needs expanded capacity to handle the video streams and application access.

Cisco's Nexus 700 is designed to support up to 512 10 Gbps Ethernet connections, with future delivery of 40 and 100 Gbps Ethernet. As LANs speed up to 10 Gbps and higher speeds locally, nationwide and regional carriers are expanding their core networks toward 100 Gbps and greater fiber optic bandwidths.

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