By Kevin Komiega
-- As Cisco Systems continues to flesh out its portfolio of products for unified networking, server virtualization has emerged as a major factor in determining the direction of Cisco's storage plans. At the VMworld conference in Las Vegas today, Cisco announced a new set of technologies that run the gamut from storage to networking to operating systems with the promise that its products can simplify the management of SANs and virtual machines.
Kicking off the product launch is the Cisco Nexus 1000V distributed virtual software switch, a software-based switch that extends Cisco's security, policy enforcement, automated provisioning and diagnostics features into VMware environments.
The Nexus 1000V and its accompanying Cisco Virtual Network Link (VN-Link) technology integrate with VMware's vNetwork Distributed Switch framework to create a logical network. The resulting virtualized network will serve up so-called virtual machine-aware storage services.
Senior marketing manager for data-center solutions, Deepak Mujal, says Cisco has been working with VMware for two years to develop a way to make virtual machines more aware of the network and storage resources around them.
"Virtual machines are the new building blocks of the data center. The goal of VN-Link is to virtualize the network domain and apply policies to physical servers and down to the virtual machines within them," says Mujal. "We also made sure that those policies are mobile and stay virtual machines when they are moved."
Mujal says there are several factors hindering wide-scale deployments of virtual machines. He believes unified networking is the key to managing data centers comprising physical and virtual IT assets.
"Most of the network and storage monitoring and management tools that have been developed assume that there is a physical server that needs to be secured. Users have a difficult time enforcing policies, gaining visibility into [virtual infrastructures] and virtualization blurs the lines of ownership within the data center," says Mujal. "Our announcements today are aimed at bringing the LAN, SAN, and WAN much closer together and making them much more aware of the virtual server environments they are running with."
New 8Gbps SAN switch modules
Cisco has also introduced three new 8Gbps Fibre Channel SAN switching modules, each of which is compatible with all Cisco MDS 9500 Series Multilayer Directors. The modules are capable of supporting 2Gbps, 4Gbps, and 8Gbps Fibre Channel traffic and provide transparent, hardware-based, line-rate encryption of Fibre Channel data in motion between any MDS 9000 family 8Gbps module.
The three new Cisco modules include
-- The Cisco 24-Port 8Gbps Fibre Channel Switching Module, which can deliver up to 192Gbps of full-duplex bandwidth to connect storage subsystems and for Inter Switch Link (ISL) connectivity between switches. The module provides multiprotocol capability for mainframe connectivity and Cisco Virtual SANs (VSANs) for hardware-based separation of Fibre Channel and FICON traffic.
-- The Cisco 48-Port 8Gbps Fibre Channel Switching Module comes equipped with 48 1, 2, 4, or 8Gbps auto-sensing ports and is able to deliver 192Gbps of full-duplex bandwidth.
-- The Cisco 4/44-Port 8Gbps Host-Optimized Fibre Channel Switching Module features four 8Gbps ports and 44 4Gbps ports, and is designed to aid in the consolidation of standard servers with fewer SAN switches and eliminating the need for a core-to-edge SAN topology.
NX-OS operating system re-branded
To maintain a common nomenclature across its product lines, Cisco has renamed its SAN-OS operating system. Now branded NX-OS, Mujal says Cisco's goal is to develop a single data-center operating system that will support a unified fabric combining both LANs and SANs. In addition to support for 8Gbps performance, Cisco NX-OS for the MDS platform also includes the policy, visibility, and diagnostic tools for managing both physical and virtual server environments. The NX-OS is the foundation for Cisco's SAN services such as QoS and security for virtual machines.
Speeding data access for remote users
Cisco and VMware are also working to integrate VMware Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solutions with Cisco's Application Delivery Networking and Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) WAN acceleration products to speed remote desktop file and application access.
The Cisco Nexus 1000V distributed virtual software switch with VN-Link capabilities supported in a VMware Infrastructure environment will not be generally available to customers until early 2009.
The Cisco WAAS and Application Control Engine for VDI are available now, while the new Cisco 8Gbps SAN switch modules will be offered by Cisco's partners in the fourth quarter of 2008.
Pricing for the new products has not been disclosed.