• No future for FabricPath? Cisco won't admit it publicly, but why would there be? The company's investing up to $863 million in ACI as its strategic fabric, which is based on VXLAN; FabricPath is based on TRILL. ACI is its response to SDN, which wasn't quite in vogue when FabricPath debuted over three years ago. When we asked Soni Jiandani, Insieme vice president of marketing, if ACI's introduction obsoletes FabricPath, she gave a noncommittal "I don't think so" before explaining that Cisco has many customer requirements to meet with its myriad data center switching platforms -- Nexus 2000, 3000, 5000, 6000, 7000, and now 9000. The Nexus 7000, however, upon which FabricPath resides is now being marketed as a fabric "pod" and as a data center interconnect after the ACI launch. Maybe it's us, but "pod" sounds like a smaller-scale limited deployment. And FabricPath and ACI would not co-exist in the same fabric, said Insieme founder Mario Mazzola. Anyway, Cisco says it has an evolution path for FabricPath customers to ACI.
• Is there a data center future in any previous generation Nexus hardware? The Nexus 7000 is now a pod and data center interconnect. The ACI Application Virtual Switch that debuted with the overall ACI architecture and Nexus 9000 switches is believed to be an adapted version of the Nexus 1000v Virtual Ethernet Module. Sources say Cisco intends to replace that with Open vSwitch in the second half of 2014, but we couldn't get Cisco to confirm that by press time. The Nexus 2000 fabric extenders are supported in ACI. The Nexus 3000 seems targeted specifically at ultra-low-latency, high-frequency trading. The Nexus 5000 will be used for Fibre Channel and Fibre Channel-over-Ethernet applications, but these are also expected to be added to Nexus 9000 ACI leaf switches. The Nexus 6004 is a 40G, 4RU switch that Mazzola says could be used as spines in the ACI fabric architecture. Could the 1RU 10G Nexus 6001 be leaves then? Cisco says its customers have many requirements that necessitate many different form factors to satisfy.
• Maintaining dominance in networking is vital to Cisco's IT ambitions: Cisco's goal in IT -- to be the No. 1 IT company in the industry -- is rooted in the network, where it is dominant. Any incursion into Cisco's data center networking bedrock, be it from VMware, Arista, white box, HP, Juniper or anyone else, is not only a threat to that foundation but to Cisco's broader IT ambitions. Connectivity is Cisco's game. Servers and storage and virtualization all hang off of that. Any disruption to its core is also a disruption to its periphery. ACI and the Nexus 9000 is intended to thwart any potential disruption and clear any obstacle in Cisco's path to becoming the No. 1 IT company.
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