The Network Hub

A SearchNetworking.com blog


April 28, 2010  1:58 PM

Extreme, Force10 unveil 40 Gigabit Ethernet at Interop



Posted by: Shamus McGillicuddy
40 Gigabit Ethernet, data center networks, Extreme Networks, Force10, Interop

Extreme Networks and Force10 Networks are both showing off 40 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) technology at Interop.

Force10 articulated its 40 GbE product roadmap in advance of the show, promising to have 40 GbE products from the rack to the core by the end of the year, but it doesn’t have any specific product details or release dates to offer yet.

Extreme is demonstrating actual 40 GbE products at the show. It’s showing the VM3-40G4X, a 4-port 40 GbE module (priced at $3,995 and available in the 3rd quarter). In the demo Extreme has one of the modules in Summit X650 stackable switch, providing 40 GbE uplinks to a BlackDiamond 8900 chassis with another 40 GbE module in it. Basically, this demo is supposed to show a top-of-rack to data center core 40 GbE configuration.

Shehzad Merchant, Extreme’s senior director of strategy, said some of Extreme’s customers have been running six 1 GbE links from single servers. They want to upgrade to single 10 GbE server links, but that will require 40 Gigabit aggregation and core layers. This module promises to give them that migration path.

It’s only a matter of time before Cisco, HP and the rest bring their own 40 GbE products to market.

April 27, 2010  12:35 PM

HP Interop keynote: All your infrastructure can belong to us



Posted by: Shamus McGillicuddy
Cisco, data center networks, HP Networking, HP ProCurve, Interop

During his keynote presentation at Interop Las Vegas 2010, Marius Haas, GM and SVP of HP Networking (the ProCurve brand has been retired along with 3Com), boasted of HP’s $1.5 billion internal IT transformation, using nothing but HP hardware (including the newly acquired 3Com network infrastructure). HP consolidated 85 data centers down to six “next generation” data centers, decreased servers by 40%, consolidated applications from 7,000 to less than 2,000 and tripled its bandwidth.

Haas said this transformation was aimed at combating the 80:20 conundrum (the familiar notion that IT spends 80% of its time maintaining infrastructure and 20% of its time innovating). The key to fighting this, Haas said, is simplifying infrastructure by consolidating networks, storage and servers into modular packages that can be deployed within data centers. HP has the expertise to deliver it all, Haas argued, especially since HP’s acquisition of 3Com. Haas emphasized that this vision includes an open architecture, but it’s an open architecture that can be all HP.

This begs the question: Do you want to get all of your infrastructure from the same vendor? Many IT organizations are hesitant to depend on one vendor for everything. They don’t want to get locked into one technology and get held hostage by their incumbent vendors.  Forget about getting servers, storage and networks from the same vendors. Some network managers like to have more than one networking vendor in their environment. They might pay premium for high end switches in their core, but go with a cheaper vendor at top of rack.

Cisco Systems has articulated a similar modular vision as it has expanded into servers with its Unified Computing System. Basically, you can buy a package of servers, LAN and SAN technology all from Cisco and plug it into your data center.

Obviously HP and Cisco have both decided to claim a larger individual footprint in each of their customers’ data centers. They’ve been moving in this direction for a couple years now. The question is, will customers want to let a big vendor like Cisco and HP to own so much of their infrastructure?


April 22, 2010  12:32 PM

Interesting numbers on used network gear, Cisco SMARTnet spending



Posted by: Shamus McGillicuddy
Cisco, Interop, Smartnet, used network equipment

Network Hardware Resale, probably the biggest seller of used network equipment in the country, surveyed 1,200 North American enterprises who have bought used networking gear or “alternative maintenance services” over the past year. The company released the results this week, in advance of next week’s Interop show.

The findings:

  • About 80% of those companies have used network gear in their production networks.
  • 61% are expanding their networks with used gear.
  • 40% will increase their spending on used gear in 2010.

There’s not a big surprise here. Times are still tough and companies who have spent on used network gear in the past aren’t afraid to do it again in the future.

Network Hardware Resale also sells “alternative maintenance services,” basically a service aimed at competing with Cisco’s SMARTnet maintenance program.  Consequently, this survey also focused on how enterprises support their networking gear. This is where it gets a little more interesting.

Forty percent of these surveyed companies say that they only buy Cisco SMARTnet maintenance contracts for their core network equipment. And 31% of respondents have cut or plan to cut maintenance spending on some network gear to save money. Almost 25% have replaced SMARTnet with alternative services from companies like Network Hardware Resale.


April 13, 2010  9:23 AM

Cisco demands end of CiscoBlog.com: Heck no, it won’t go



Posted by: rivkalittle
cisco blogs, cisco IOS simulator, ciscoblog.com, ciskoblog.com

After five years and 600,000 hits a month, the CiscoBlog.com has been forced by Cisco to change its name. The new name? CiskoBlog.com.

Cisco pulled trademark rank, demanding the name be changed by July 4. The blogger, a Cisco certified engineer, learned along the way that his certification required that he not violate the Cisco trademark:

“First off, Cisco is fully in the clear legally to do what they’re doing. I’ve done a little research myself and even spoken with a couple trademark lawyers on this …

Despite finding this out, I was still really bugged about this move…especially with the hundreds (if not thousands) of other domains that use Cisco in their name. That is…until Cisco pointed out to me violating their trademark policy also violates their certification NDA agreement…What?!? Yep, it’s true…buried there in the certification agreement you take every time you take a certification exam is essentially the statement, “I will not violate Cisco’s trademark.” (who knew?).”

It may be legal, but it’s still lame. The CiscoBlog.com … ooh I’m sorry, CiskoBlog.com … is an engineer’s blog filled with tips and support for Cisco products.

Cisco puts engineers through the ringer for certification (with purpose) and then cuts them off at the pass by doing things like limiting use of Cisco IOS simulators. Allowing engineers to use simulators or launch blogs with easily identifiable names may not earn the company money, but helps its corps of engineers (so to speak) become better. We’re not asking that Cisco go all open source (god forbid), but come on, throw a bone.

 


April 5, 2010  10:57 AM

Is data center interconnect news worth a flogging?



Posted by: Shamus McGillicuddy
Cisco, data center networks, MPLS, Routers, Virtualization, VMware, Wide area networks

Two months ago I wrote a story about Cisco’s Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV) data center interconnect technology, which Cisco claims can take a lot of complexity out of data center interconnects and simplify the migration of virtual machines across data centers via technologies like VMware’s vMotion.

Systems engineer Kenneth Hellmann read the story recently and took exception to some of the claims made.

I was just reading your “Cisco data center interconnect aims to fix vMotion network trouble”. The following section left me speechless:

["Between them, you're running MPLS and a VPLS tunnel. That's complex. It's hard to configure. You have to have an MPLS network. You have to configure the VPLS tunnel between them as an overlay. VPLS configuration is notoriously complex. Then you have to optimize performance."

What's more, all that work with an MPLS and VPLS only sets up a connection between two data centers, Antonopoulos pointed out. If an enterprise wants to establish virtual server migration between three or more data centers, each data, engineers will have to build links between all of them. "Data center A will have to be connected to data center B," he said. "Data center B will have to be connected to data center C, and data center C will have to be connected to data center A."

Cisco's Griffin claimed that configuring a data center interconnect for virtual server migration between two data centers can take months with existing technologies, whereas the OTV feature can be set up in five minutes.]

I freely admit that I am a Systems Engineer for [REDCATED], so you may see me as biased, but those statements are just the purest of nonsense. I teach a 5 day MPLS Configuration class and the L2 VPN section takes 4 hours (which includes two labs). That is for VLL and VPLS. And everyone gets it. Why not…it’s incredibly easy. For your own information, here are the configuration lines (over and above the normal configuration needed for an  OSPF router) to turn on MPLS and configure a VPLS between 3 sites (of course you must have a similar configuration on the other two PE routers):

router mpls

mpls-interface e 1/1

ldp-enable

!

vpls  Datacenter  20000

vpls-peer  192.168.2.1  192.168.3.1

vlan 10

tagged e 3/1

Yes, that’s it. Now tell me, how does that correlate with the following statements in your article?:

1) “Between them, you’re running MPLS and a VPLS tunnel. That’s complex. It’s hard to configure”

2) “VPLS configuration is notoriously complex”

3) “Cisco’s Griffin claimed that configuring a data center interconnect for virtual server migration between two data centers can take months with existing technologies”

Do you reporters ever vet what you are told or is Cisco given a pass on everything they say? If a CNN reporter reports a third party story which later turns out to be bogus, he is publicly flogged. At the very least he writes a retraction.

How about you?

I won’t be running a retraction or submitting to a public flogging, but I am happy to reproduce Kenneth’s email here so his point of view can be shared.

I should also point out the first two paragraphs Kenneth reproduced from my story  are quotations and paraphrases of statements made by an independent third party, Andreas Antonopoulos, senior vice president at Nemertes Research, rather than a Cisco representative. I wasn’t serving as a Cisco stenographer on this story.

Also, I’m an editor, not an engineer. So I can only rely on what independent third parties tell me about products and technologies. It’s an unfortunate limitation, I freely admit.

On a related note, Abner Germanow of Juniper Networks pointed out that I should have mentioned in my original story that Cisco’s OTV technology only works in a Cisco environment.


April 5, 2010  10:39 AM

‘They want an elephant sculpture with some mold or gold?’: Video over WLAN, a cautionary tale



Posted by: Jessica Scarpati
cisco gear, video, Wireless networking, wlans

Video. Video. Video. Yup, we keep hearing the drumbeat, too.

Although the jury’s still out on how many enterprises are extensively using video (or plan to this year), Cisco would certainly like you to believe its ascent is as certain as the rising and setting of the sun.  And why not? More powerful networks = more ritzy equipment for them to sell, right?

In the event that I’m eating my cynical words over the next few months, here’s an entertaining if not ominous look at what Cisco sees as the fate of enterprises that cheap out on video over WLAN:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/InWWHKsG8bg" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]


April 2, 2010  10:10 AM

Cisco responds to ongoing (and latest) slew of backorders



Posted by: Jessica Scarpati
backorders, Cisco ASA firewall shortage, Cisco channel partners, Cisco supply chain shortage, fire

As we went to press with this week’s story about the most recent supply chain backup at Cisco — part of a broader supply chain problem that has persisted for the past few months — we hadn’t heard much in way of a response from Cisco executives about the six month-plus delays on Cisco’s ASA firewalls and other networking gear customers and partners have been experiencing.

This came into my inbox Thursday around noontime ET (sadly, past deadline), from corporate spokesman John Earnhardt:

“As we mentioned during our last quarterly conference call, we have experienced longer lead times on several of our products. This was the result of increased demand driven by the improvement in our overall markets. And, similar to what is happening in the entire industry we are seeing some product lead time extensions stemming from supplier constraints. We continue to build upon our strong relationships with our suppliers to proactively manage our supply chain and minimize any potential impact to our customers and partners.”

The statement is pretty much what Cisco wrote, as John mentions, in their Section 1A of their 4Q09 report about risk factors for investors.

As if the whole situation wasn’t causing networking pros enough headaches, reps form Network Hardware Resale tell us that low supply is pushing prices up as well. Ouch.

Let’s see of a show of (virtual) hands. Have you had any nasty backorders on networking gear — Cisco or otherwise? What kind of prices are you seeing?


March 25, 2010  4:45 PM

What’s the deal with the Cisco ASA firewall shortage?



Posted by: rivkalittle
Cisco ASA firewall shortage, Cisco channel partners, Cisco supply chain shortage

Cisco channel partners and users are having difficulty getting their hands on Cisco ASA firewalls. This news surfaced during a SearchITChannel advisory board meeting, when more than one member Cisco VAR said they were unable to access Cisco ASAs both directly and through distributors.

Cisco didn’t immediately return emails regarding the Cisco ASA firewall shortage, but executives at a partner distributor confirmed that there is a backlog that won’t be resolved until May or so – and it’s on Cisco’s end.

The distie executives said they don’t know the cause of the backlog, but noted that Cisco has had its share of supply chain problems in recent months. In January, disties and channel partners found themselves unable to access core networking products due to supply chain shortages, Channel Insider reported. Cisco chalked that up to an unexpected surge in demand.

Maybe answers explaining the Cisco ASA firewall shortage will arise soon.


March 23, 2010  4:40 PM

CCIE survey: Security skills top all others … then comes virtualization



Posted by: rivkalittle
CCIE, ccie survey, Cisco certification, Network security, network security skills, nework architecting, virtualization network

Cisco may be pushing users to acquire blade server skills, but 64% of CCIEs in a recent survey said that risk management and network security will be the most crucial networking skills to have in the next five years. One in three of the same group said network security breaches will remain among the top concerns of CIOs over the next five years.

Cisco (using the research firm Illuminas) surveyed 970 CCIEs internationally (as part of a 15 year celebration of the CCIE launch) to determine what the digital infrastructure landscape will look like in the next five years.

Virtualization played a large role in the survey with another 67% of respondents saying the technology would be the top networking investment over the next five years as CIOs push to reduce power consumption and spending. After years of virtualization being sold as a data center and systems technology, these results highlight the crucial role of networking in virtualization and vice versa.

Virtualization will also introduce network complexity and management challenges, according to those surveyed, so 56% of respondents said network architecting skills would be in high demand to take on these new challenges.  

The CCIEs surveyed also noted the importance of unified communications, with 77% saying IP telephony has been the single largest trend over the last five years, while another 47% said unified communications will be a leading trend in the coming five. Meanwhile, another 52% said video would be a leading enterprise green initiative.

Cisco has published full CCIE survey results, as well as a CCIE survey white paper with analysis.


March 15, 2010  1:42 PM

Does change management destroy your day?



Posted by: rivkalittle
change management, network change and configuration management, network troubleshooting, packetlife

An excellent post on the science (and definitely not art) of network troubleshooting on the PacketLife blog last week, resulted in a mini-debate on whether network change andconfiguration management is a lifesaver or a time-sucking burden for network admins. The answer, it appears, is probably somewhere in the middle.

PacketLife blogger Jeremy Stretch runs through his network troubleshooting method, which includes NOT starting the process at Layer One as many do, but also involves detailed recording of problems and their solutions as well as redoing tests numerous times to confirm functionality after the fix is implemented.

The idea of redoing tests for one reader was laughable considering he has to wade through a river of paper work in order to do even one test.

The increasing need to adhere to strict change control procedures kills the science of troubleshooting. In my world one test would require mounds of paperwork and numerous sign offs. To do my job I’m forced to do things under the table and hope I don’t break anything and call attention to my activities,” wrote the reader, who calls himself/herself PompeyChimes.

Those complaints brought on an outraged response from a reader known as HH.

“For the love of god, use proper change management procedures… Too often are problems caused by hotshot admins who think they know everything,” HH wrote.

Stretch tempers the argument with the following middle road response:

“HH makes a valid point. Change controls are great – IF they’re implemented practically. So long as they leave an engineer enough room to maneuver, they can be an excellent tool to help generate documentation during the troubleshooting process.”

We’ve written a number of pieces on the virtues of change management in virtualization and change management in storage, but much more often than not we hear of the nightmares involved in dealing with change management. The answer probably doesn’t lie in doing away with change control, but instead in implementing procedures that are realistic for the admins carrying them out daily.


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