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4/9/2008
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Cisco Buys Rest Of Nuova, Launches Data Center Switch

The upcoming Nexus 5020 will be the second in a larger line of Nexus switches that combine storage, switching, management, virtualization and security.

In a move to solidify its position in the data center and push convergence a few steps further, Cisco Systems said Monday that it would purchase start-up Nuova Systems and announced that it would start selling a new switch co-developed with Nuova.

The new switch, the Nexus 5020, is the first in the Nexus 5000 series. It's the second in a larger line of Nexus switches that combine storage, switching, management, virtualization and security into one box, and another step on the road to bringing more and more server functions into the network.

Some of these storage, virtualization and management capabilities in Nexus switches have rarely been included in traditional networking equipment. That means that Cisco, which announced a slew of data center partnerships Monday, will also be competing with those same companies who are also partners.

In order to push its vision of data center networking, Cisco must work carefully not to alienate companies like EMC and VMware that Cisco will both need to work with while at the same time holding them at arm's length as competitors.

"This isn't necessarily just about connectivity, storage or computing, but about control of the data center," Yankee Group analyst Zeur Kerravala said in an interview. "The computing and network silos have traditionally been very strong and have had very little overlap, but the management overlay that will orchestrate the services is up for grabs."

The Nexus 5000 series will be used to handle some server functions, aggregate server connectivity and connect into existing networks of Cisco's popular Catalyst switches, larger Nexus 7000 series switches (much like combinations of Catalyst 4000 and Catalyst 6000 switches) and storage networks. The Nexus 5020 goes on sale in May for $900 per port for 10-Gigabit Ethernet, or $36,000 for a typical 40-port, 10 Gbit Ethernet switch.

With Nexus switches' configuration and functionality, business customers will be able to unify some of the management of network and computing resources, and potentially re-allocate people and time spent by data center and network admins. According to Cisco, this could translate to as much as 30% savings in terms of total cost of ownership of similar functionality acting in separate hardware. "We are trying to separate the logical administration of physical functions from the physical location," Dante Malagrino, Cisco's director of product marketing for its data center products, said in an interview.

With the acquisition of the rest of Nuova, of which Cisco already owned 80%, some key employees are coming back to work at Cisco or over to Cisco for the first time, including former Cisco chief development officer Mario Mazzola, who helped turn Catalyst switches into a multi-billion dollar powerhouse, and VMware co-founder Ed Bugnion.

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