This article introduces the Cisco Nexus product family (Nexus 9000, Nexus 7000, Nexus 5000, Nexus 3000, Nexus 2000, Nexus 1000V and MDS 9000). We explain the differences between Nexus and Catalyst switches but also compare commands, naming conventions, hardware capabilities etc. between Nexus NX-OS and Catalyst IOS operating systems. To provide a comprehensive overview we explain where each Nexus model is best positioned in the Data Center and directly compare high-end Nexus switches (Nexus 9000/7000) with high-end Catalyst switches (Catalyst 6800 / 6500) examining specifications, bandwidth – capacity, modules and features (High-Availability, Port Scalability, VDC, vPC – VSS, OTV, VXLAN, etc).
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The Cisco Nexus Family of products has become extremely popular in small and large data centers thanks to their capability for unifying storage, data and networking services. Thanks to the Cisco Fabric Interconnect they are able not only to support all these services but also provide a rock-solid programmable platform that fully supports any virtualized environment. The Cisco Nexus family includes a generous number of different Nexus models to meet the demands of any Data Center environment. Let’s take a look at what the Nexus Family has to offer!
The Nexus Product Family
These data center switches can operate in Cisco NX-OS Software or Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) modes. The main features of the new Cisco Nexus 9000 Series are: support of Fabric Extender Technology (FEX), virtual Port Channel (vPC), and Virtual Extensible LAN (VXLAN). There are a few key differences between the Cisco Nexus 7000 Series and Nexus 9000 DC switches. The Nexus 9000 supports Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) in contrast to the Nexus 7000 switches. However, the Cisco Nexus 9000 switches do not support the VDCs (Virtual Device Context) technology like the Nexus 7000 and the Nexus 9000 Series doesn't support storage protocols, in contrast to the Nexus 7000. Finally, it is foreseen that the Nexus 9000 will complement the Nexus 7000 as data centers transition to ACI.
The Nexus 9000 Series Data Center Switches
The Nexus 9000 switches are available in a variety of models and configurations starting from the Nexus 9200 series (1 RU) Cloud Scale - standalone, Nexus 9300 series (1RU), Nexus 9300-EX (1RU) Cloud Scale standalone/ACI, Nexus 9500-EX (1RU) Cloud Scale Modules to the Nexus 9500 Cloud Scale switches (4, 8, 16 slots).
You can compare all available modes at the following URL:
Download complete data sheets: Nexus 9500 series, Nexus 9300-EX series, Nexus 9300 series and Nexus 9200 series
They can provide an end-to-end data center architecture on a single platform, including data center core, aggregation, and access layer. The N7k series provides high-density 10, 40, and 100 Gigabit Ethernetinterfaces. The main features of the Cisco Nexus 7000 Series are: support for FEX, virtual Port Channel (vPC), VDC, MPLS and Fabricpath. In addition, the N7K supports fairly robust and established technologies for multi-DC interconnect (DCI) such as OTV and LISP. The N9K does not support these well-established DCI technologies, but a newer DCI technology, VXLAN, BGP, EVPN, that can be deployed for site-to-site DCI.
The Nexus 7000 Series Data Center Switches
The Nexus 7000 series consists of the 7000 and 7700 series switches, the latter being an updated series to the original 7000 series. The Nexus 7700 series offers higher bandwidth per slot (1.3Tbps compared to 550Gbps), greater performance and ability to support up to an impressive 192 100GE ports (7700 – 18 slot) compared to 96 100GE ports (7000 – 18 slot).