Lippis Report 212: Arista Sets New Standard in Modular Data Center Switching with 7500E

August 13th, 2013

The IT industry is at the beginning of two massively disruptive trends: cloud and mobile computing. Distributing computing tools or the ability for a small number of operational personnel to manage tens to hundreds of thousands of servers is one of the major scale forces driving cloud computing economics being leveraged by cloud providers and enterprise IT. In fact, the number of servers per rack has grown from 20 to 40 in 2010 to 60 to 80 in 2013; a trend that will only continue. Along with unparalleled server density increasing, application access via mobile devices is driving massive east-west and north-south data/traffic, thanks to content being distributed across many servers within cloud facilities. From a networking perspective, all this adds up to increased number of higher speed server connections into leaf or Top-of-Rack (ToR) switches and subsequent ToR-to-Core (spine) switch connections with the ability to support ever increasing “Brownian motion” type traffic patterns. High density and performance plus low latency demands are signaling the need for a new generation of 10/40/100 GbE modular switching in private and public cloud infrastructure plus high-end data centers. Enter Arista’s 7500E that’s designed to address the growing need for 10/40/100 GbE switching within demanding virtualized data center environments. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we dive into Arista’s 7500E as it’s a beacon of what’s to come from many other suppliers over the next 18 months.

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Lippis Report 211: Cisco’s Catalyst 6800 Adds another Ten Years to Catalyst 6500 Series

July 22nd, 2013

nicklippis.jpgBack in December of 2012, we published a research note titled “Why Cisco’s Catalyst 6500 Series Will Be Around in 2025.” While it was, and still is, a bold prediction, Cisco’s latest Catalyst introduction, the Catalyst 6800, provides yet another proof point that this prediction will be reality. Modular switches are big IT investments, with longevity assumed in the purchase. Cisco communicates longevity by continuing to invest in research and development, adding platform value with backward compatibility of previous investments to migrate forward—that is, no forklift upgrades and extracts maximum value from past purchases, delivering investment protection and trust. Cisco does this better than most and is rewarded for the design philosophy. Consider that the Catalyst 6500 is the most deployed campus backbone switch. Cisco’s investing hundreds of million of dollars on a Catalyst innovation roadmap with the 6800 being the latest result of this investment. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we review the Catalyst 6800 and reiterate that this Catalyst will be in operation well into 2025.
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Cisco’s Catalyst 6500 Now Supports A VSS With Four Sup2Ts Ushering Next Generation Campus Backbone Reliability Design

June 3rd, 2013

Charles_Okochu_Ciscos_Catalyst_6500_Now_Supports_A_VSS_With_Four_Sup2Ts_Ushering_Next_Generation_Campus_Backbone_Reliability_DesignTo assure 100% throughput, that is no packet loss or network performance degradation takes place during an inter-chassis switch over, Cisco invested in its third generation of Virtual Switch System or VSS. It introduced support for four Supervisors within a VSS, which it calls VS4O for short. VS40 supports a VSS pair to be resilient to up to three simultaneous supervisor failures; providing deterministic and automated recovery from failures and increases network uptime tremendously in the campus backbone. Sudeep Padiyar Senior Product Manager at Cisco Systems and Charles Okochu, Network Engineer at MarketAxess join me to discuss Cisco’s new additions to the Catalyst 6500 and the resiliency network design options it affords to Cisco customers.

Cisco Invests In Unified Access To Address Fundamental Changes In Enterprise Networking And BYOD

January 29th, 2013

Cisco is fundamentally changing the way it approaches network  by prioritizing R&D to deliver a common user experience independent upon wired, wireless or remote access. In addition, to simplifying network operations and reducing opex, Cisco is unifying its product suites for One Policy, One Management and One Network to address the BYOD megatrend.  Its approach is to deliver a unified access or holistic solution to IT business leaders that span both wired, wireless and remote network access with a common security,  management and features framework. Cisco calls this new approach Cisco Unified Access. Cisco is also introducing a new converged wired and wireless switch –  Catalyst 3850 switch.   Jeff Reed; Vice President and General Manager Unified Access Group at Cisco Systems joins me to discuss Cisco’s  Unified Access strategy and new Catalyst 3850 switch.

Duration: 15:26 minutes

Lippis Intro/Analysis @ : 00:03 sec

Question 1 @ 2:22: First would you like to add to my intro, that is what is Unified Access and what’s driving it?

Question 2 @ 3:02: What are the basic elements of UA from a product development point of view, that is where is Cisco investing to deliver UA?

Question 3 @ 5:07: Can you expand on the new 3850 product especially around the topic of virtualized WLAN controllers.

Question 4 @ 7:08: How does UA address BYOD, Video and security trends?

Question 5 @ 10:52: How much does IOS 15.0 Infrastructure play a part in UA?

Question 6 @ 12:47: What do you expect the business outcomes to be for those that deploy UA?

Closing @ 14:41: Summary of UA and its impact on business process.


Lippis Report 203: Why Cisco’s Catalyst 6500 Series Will Be Around in 2025?

December 5th, 2012

Cisco’s Catalyst 6500 series is by far the most popular switching platform in the history of computer networking. Consider that the Catalyst 6500 has generated more than $45B in cumulative revenue for Cisco, thanks to its large footprint of close to 800,000 systems, 110 million ports shipped thus far to some 45,000 customers. Some deployments are as big as 4,000 Catalyst 6500 switches large! Factor in an installed base 20 times bigger than its nearest competitor with the resources to deliver long-term service and support, and the best analogy to describe the Catalyst 6500 is that of Boeing’s airplanes. Airlines upgrade from 737 to 747 to 757 and 777 as they grow and improve their service, maintaining operational consistency, quality and investment protection of training plus supply chain. In short, Boeing builds platforms that last, creating trust between airlines and Boeing. So, too, is Cisco’s Catalyst 6500 because Cisco is investing hundreds of million of dollars on a roadmap innovation with investment protection. We predict that the Catalyst 6500 will be in operation well into 2025. In this Lippis Report Research Note, we explain why.

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Which Network Services Need To Be Available In Modern Networks?

January 16th, 2012

Modern corporate networks are under increasing pressure to support a wider variety of applications thanks to mobile and cloud computing, desktop virtualization plus video traffic having skyrocketed. Not only are bandwidth rates increasing from 1 to 10 to 40 GbE, but most importantly network services are needed to manage and support a different application portfolio mix and network access methods. Network services such as firewalls, WLANs, network diagnostics and monitoring plus application performance acceleration are needed to deliver a consistently excellent user experience. Cisco recently announced an upgrade to its popular Catalyst 6k with the availability of the Supervisor 2T that included re-vamped high performance service modules to deliver these network services. Goyal, product line manager at Cisco Systems joins me to discuss which network services need to be available in modern networks.

Download “A Comprehensive Testing of Cisco Systems Catalyst 6500 Sup2T” report here.

Lippis Report 184: Network Services to Differentiate Next Generation of Campus Core Switches

January 9th, 2012

During the middle of 2012, a few firms will introduce core switches for campus networking. Many of these products will be based upon merchant silicon such as HP Networking’s A10500 Series Enterprise Core Switch. While these products will boast performance advantage, they will find it difficult to win share against established firms such as Cisco’s Catalyst 6500, thanks to its investment in network services. In this Lippis Report Research Note 184, we explore the importance of network services and their role in campus network design.

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Catalyst 6500 Sup2T 802.1ae MACSec Throughput Performance

November 30th, 2011

MACsec encryption has become increasing popular and important to campus network design, but previous switch performance degraded when encrypted traffic was passing through it. Here we show that the catalyst 6500 does not suffer a performance degrade while MACsec traffic is passing through it. We tested the Catalyst 6500 via the cPacket Networks cTap 10G passive probe to verify traffic flows were either MACsec encrypted or unencrypted. We found that there is no material difference in throughput performance, other than 802.1ae encryption key overhead, thanks to 16 additional bytes per packet. The cPacket passive probe also measured line rate throughput performance. This is a great short video that verifies how the old encryption performance penalty is now gone.

Download “A Comprehensive Testing of Cisco Systems Catalyst 6500 Sup2T” report here.

Cisco Systems Catalyst 6500 Sup2T VSS Throughput Performance

November 30th, 2011

One of the most impressive network design options available on the Catalyst 6500 is the use of VSS. Connecting two Catalyst 6500s equipped with Sup2Ts creates a virtual switch, adding each switch’s performance while operating as a single switch thus eliminating spanning tree in favor for active-active links. We configure two Catalyst 6500s via VSS. We measure throughput performance to verify that VSS throughput rates are equally high performance as the MPLS and VPLS scenarios. Check out the two-Catalyst 6500 configurations we deployed for this test.

Download “A Comprehensive Testing of Cisco Systems Catalyst 6500 Sup2T” report here.

Catalyst 6500 Sup2T Network Virtualization via MPLS/VPLS Performance

November 30th, 2011

Network virtualization, or the ability to divide a physical network into multiple logical networks with unique attributes, is a design that has grown in popularity as IT business leaders have sort ways to segment their network with different attributes for different user groups. This is popular in healthcare, education, travel and other industries. Network virtualization can be implemented either in IP, and/or MPLS. In addition connecting the Catalyst 6500 directly to service provider MPLS networks is another popular design; therefore we test throughput performance for both scenarios here.

For active-active data center operation, disaster planning and load balancing are best practices when connecting data centers via MPLS or VPLS. VPLS layer 2 connected data centers deliver LAN-like service over the campus and/or wide area network. Layer 2 connectivity is important as server-server communications expect layer 2 connectivity as most applications have been designed with this assumption. For connecting more than two data centers, VPLS offers mesh connectivity. Data centers connected via VPLS look and act as if they are on the same LAN. Therefore, we test that VPLS throughput performance rates are equally high performance in this scenario as MPLS.

Download “A Comprehensive Testing of Cisco Systems Catalyst 6500 Sup2T” report here.

Catalyst 6500 Upgrade From Sup720 to Sup2T

November 30th, 2011

During the Lippis Report test of the Cisco Systems Catalyst 6500 at Ixia’s iSimCity we perform an upgrade from Supervisor Engine 720 to 2T. What IT business leaders are looking for are incremental network upgrades with minimal disruption. Therefore, we swap out Sup720 for Sup2T and bring up existing service modules and line cards. Remember that line cards represent the largest investment in switching equipment, so we’ll demonstrate that older line cards interoperate at high performance when the new Sup2T replaces the Sup720. We find that the upgrade process is easy and smooth with compatibility of line cards, configuration code, service modules, transceivers and chassis.

Download “A Comprehensive Testing of Cisco Systems Catalyst 6500 Sup2T” report here.