I know it’s been a while since I last had a chance to share my thoughts on this site, but I couldn’t resist this one. Cisco recently announced its “End-to-End High-Performance Trading Fabric.” A couple of things about this announcement struck me as particularly interesting.
First, it doesn’t appear that there is any real news here other than the fact they released performance figures for their Nexus 3068 switch. It is so unlike Cisco to publicize its performance data; low latency of its switches is not one of their strengths. Cisco has not published performance numbers on the Nexus 5548 and for a good reason. The 5548’s performance on packets sizes of 512B and less is egregious.
Second, and perhaps most amusing, is Cisco’s latest use of the term “fabric.” Cisco states “the high-performance trading fabric is based on Cisco's holistic data center fabric approach that includes the recently announced Cisco Nexus 3064 and Nexus 5500.” I am at a loss to understand how connecting 3064s and 5500s constitutes a fabric. Last summer, Cisco said its strategy for a data center fabric was based on FabricPath. But neither the Nexus 3064 nor the 5500 work with FabricPath. Earlier this year Cisco said that its strategy for a data center fabric was multi-hop FCoE. But the Nexus 3064 does not work in a multi-hop FCoE environment.
This leads me to conclude that either Cisco is confused about the concept of a data center fabric, or they are deliberately trying to muddle the definition of a fabric.
At Juniper Networks, we have a very clear understanding of what constitutes an ideal data center fabric, leveraging the architecture and behavior of the fabric found inside a switch or router and applying it to a data center interconnect. A data center fabric should provide a flat (single Ethernet look up), any-to-any data interconnect (data plane) while being managed as a single logical switch. This concept forms the architectural underpinnings of our QFabric™ architecture [see “Defining Characteristics of QFabric”] and is the reason why QFabric provides such extraordinary performance (under 5us to traverse the fabric), inherent simplicity and efficiency, all at a lower cost of ownership.
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