Cisco Introduces New SaaS Tool and Line of 400G Data Center Switches

Nexus Cloud simplifies network management across multicloud environments while new 400G Cisco Nexus 9000 series network switches get improvements to meet today's bandwidth needs.

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Cisco on Tuesday beefed up its data center networking technology with two new products: a cloud-based tool that enables enterprises to centrally manage and monitor their data center and public cloud networks, and a set of new 400G network switches that enable enterprises and service providers to alleviate their bandwidth needs.

The new software-as-a-service-based (SaaS) tool, called Nexus Cloud, provides real-time insights and helps enterprises automate the management of data center networks across their hybrid cloud environments through a single pane of glass.  

Cisco executives said Nexus Cloud is essentially a cloud-based version of Cisco’s Nexus Dashboard, an on-premises appliance introduced in late 2020. Nexus Dashboard enables IT teams to connect multiple data center networks, provides real-time network visibility to troubleshoot and remediate problems, provides continuous verification of data center network state and policy, and allows IT staff to predict outages and ensure compliance.

At its Cisco Live conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Cisco executives announced plans for Nexus Cloud because of demand from customers who want a SaaS tool to simplify network management.

“Customers like Nexus Dashboard a lot, and they are very successful with it," said Thomas Scheibe, vice president of product management for Cisco Cloud Networking. "They said, ‘This is great, but I still have to operate an appliance and make sure it’s updated.’ They asked, ‘can you give us this as a cloud service? That’s what Nexus Cloud is.”

Related:Cisco 2022 Global Hybrid Cloud Trends Report Identifies Broad Adoption

The company also announced the availability of new 400G Cisco Nexus 9000 series data center network switches that are “800G ready,” meaning customers can migrate to 800 Gigabit Ethernet speeds when the technology is available. Cisco had previously released 400G switches, but the new switches support more ports, providing greater network capacity, Scheibe said.

IDC analyst Brad Casemore said creating Nexus Cloud is a smart move by Cisco because customers want cloud-based network management. Nexus Cloud provides IT teams network telemetry across their on-premises data center networks and cloud networks, so they can better manage and secure their networks, he said. 

“It comes up in our discussions with enterprise customers who say, ‘We need better visibility and observability into our network, so we can move toward a more proactive and preventative approach to providing connectivity and network security,’” Casemore said. “They want one view of these hybrid environments in a way that allows them to achieve consistent operations. This is a trend in the industry, and Cisco is responding to that demand from their customers.”

He believes Nexus Cloud will attract many medium-sized enterprises – as well as large customers – that don’t want to make the upfront investment in Nexus Dashboard. “A lot of customers are looking for a simpler pay-as-you-go, consumption-based model,” he said.

"It's not just hyperscalers interested in 400G; if you are doing artificial intelligence or you’re moving to a modern application architecture like cloud-native containers, you are going to consume a lot of bandwidth."

— Brad Casemore, IDC analyst

Casemore said it was also the right time for Cisco to refresh its 400G data center network switches with greater port density. Today, most enterprises deploy 25/100G data center switches. Only a small number are using 400G, but they will increasingly adopt it because of increased bandwidth needs, he said.

Cisco’s competitors Arista Networks and Juniper Networks also offer 400G data center switches, and it’s a market that’s poised to take off. Adoption was delayed because of the pandemic and the ensuing supply chain delays, but now demand for 400G is kicking into gear, he said.

“It’s not just hyperscalers interested in 400G,” he said. “If you are doing artificial intelligence or you’re moving to a modern application architecture like cloud-native containers, you are going to consume a lot of bandwidth.”

Nexus Cloud Features

Cisco’s Nexus Cloud, which is expected to be available later this fall, provides visibility into application and infrastructure telemetry across all sites and provides recommendations to resolve any network issues.  

“What we’re after is to give operations teams an easy way to see problems and trends and provide guidance on infrastructure,” Scheibe said. “You’re running close to capacity, you should do this. Or you’ve had a problem that’s active for the last 12 hours, this is probably the reason.”

Other features of Nexus Cloud include the ability to enforce policy-based network segmentation to bolster security, Scheibe said. For example, network operations teams can use Nexus Cloud to segregate development environments from production environments, he said.

And because sustainability is top of mind for many enterprises, Nexus Cloud provides statistics on the energy consumption and energy costs of their networks, the company said.

Nexus Cloud is powered by Cisco Intersight, Cisco’s family of SaaS tools for deploying and managing its Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) servers and Cisco HyperFlex hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) equipment.

Future versions of Nexus Cloud will enable network operations teams to configure Nexus data center switches. Today, customers deploy controllers, which is software, to manage the switch configurations, Scheibe said.

400G Data Center Switches

The new family of Cisco Nexus 400G data center switches are available immediately, the company said. The new Cisco Nexus 9800 modular data center switch features 288 ports of 400G performance, the Nexus 9400 provides 64 ports and the Cisco Nexus 9300 offers 48 or 64 ports of 400G performance. Previously, Cisco’s 400G switches had only 32 ports at the most.

800G technology won’t be ready for another 18 to 24 months, said IDC’s Casemore. The fact that Cisco’s new 400G switches are “800G ready” is important because it gives customers investment protection when they’re ready to migrate to 800G, he said.

In other Cisco Live news, the company also announced:

  • Cloud Management for Cisco Catalyst. Customers can manage some select Catalyst campus switches and select Catalyst wireless devices through the Meraki cloud-based dashboard. Cloud management for Catalyst wireless devices is available now. Cloud management for Catalyst switches will be available in the fall.

  • ThousandEyes WAN Insights. This tool – currently available as a private preview for select Cisco SD-WAN customers – continually analyzes SD-WAN and Internet performance data and applies predictive models to forecast connectivity issues and recommend actions before problems occur, the company said.   

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Data Center Knowledge

Data Center Knowledge, a sister site to ITPro Today, is a leading online source of daily news and analysis about the data center industry. Areas of coverage include power and cooling technology, processor and server architecture, networks, storage, the colocation industry, data center company stocks, cloud, the modern hyper-scale data center space, edge computing, infrastructure for machine learning, and virtual and augmented reality. Each month, hundreds of thousands of data center professionals (C-level, business, IT and facilities decision-makers) turn to DCK to help them develop data center strategies and/or design, build and manage world-class data centers. These buyers and decision-makers rely on DCK as a trusted source of breaking news and expertise on these specialized facilities.

Wylie Wong

Wylie Wong is a journalist and freelance writer specializing in technology, business and sports. He previously worked at CNET, Computerworld and CRN and loves covering and learning about the advances and ever-changing dynamics of the technology industry. On the sports front, Wylie is co-author of Giants: Where Have You Gone, a where-are-they-now book on former San Francisco Giants. He previously launched and wrote a Giants blog for the San Jose Mercury News, and in recent years, has enjoyed writing about the intersection of technology and sports.

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