I’m going back to the rack this week. Last month’s discussion about whether in-rack switching made sense got people talking. Concerns of wasted ports and lack of redundancy were popular comments. While most of these concerns can usually be addressed through architecture or design, it is now time to look forward at what networking gear is going to offer in the near future.
If you haven’t become familiar with the Nexus series of products, perhaps it is time to check them out if you are a Cisco shop. These products are a robust offering of new products that have a niche in all areas of the datacenter. The Nexus 2148T Fabric Extender, even by its name, is a different beast. The Nexus series of products delivers LAN, SAN, and High Performance Computing to each rack through one managed device. What is better is that when used with the Nexus 5000 series switches, the 2148T is effectively a series of local ports (to the 5000) extended to the endpoint (ideally a rack). Figure A shows the 2148T.
Be sure to also check out the product introduction site as it describes other functionality of the device. There you can view a video explaining how this is more than a switch, but a fabric extender. That is important as storage can be provisioned through this device, including FCoE and iSCSI. One of the bigger limitations and arguments against in-rack network gear is that storage traditionally would need separate provisioning. The 2148T’s converged I/O allows network and storage admins to drop the same device to fulfill both needs.
Another product in the Nexus line, the upcoming Nexus 1000V, will be fully compatible, as virtual environments will be a driving architecture decision going forward for most environments.
With enhanced functionality from devices like this, does in-rack networking make more sense now? Share your comments below.