Think Outside the Chassis

March 12, 2018 Enterprise Networking, Trends

Many ABS clients may be just like you — small to midsize companies on a tight budget. We are all doing the best with that we have, right? Maybe your network has been running on an end of life Cisco 6500 chassis for a year now. The Supervisor Module has been upgraded, line cards have been added and your accounting department winces at the power bill your data center generates every month. You stare at all those flashing green lights and ask yourself, “What can I do?” Technically, you have a few viable options to improve the status of your network.

Option 1: Upgrade to a 6800 Chassis – This option offers you a good solution similar to what you currently have with some added functionality. For instance, you can now add that gigabit line card in. Or if you’re running 10GbE to your closets, you can install the 10GbE module. And, of course, you’re no longer working with an end of life chassis. But these upgrades come at a price. You’ll have to purchase a new chassis and new line cards to support the new E-chassis. Not to mention the SmartNET on those individual line cards and chassis itself.

Option 2: Upgrade to a Cisco Nexus 7000/7700 – Consider the Nexus 7000 that shiny Rolls Royce that gets every Network Engineer’s blood pumping as they sit behind the wheel of this state of the art platform. With the significant enhancements in design, power, airflow, cooling, and cabling, the Nexus 7k is a venerable “Data Center in a box.” Combine your LAN and your SAN in a single chassis! Extend your layer 2 network to some top-of-the-rack Nexus 2000’s! 10GbE? 40GbE? 100GbE? This is child’s play to the 7k. However, the Rolls Royce motor car passes through 60 pairs of highly-skilled hands before it reaches the owner – and those are expensive hands. Therefore, the Nexus 7000 commands a heavy price tag.

Option 3: NEXUS 5000 – Boom box vs. iPod. Tom vs. Jerry. David vs. Goliath. I think you understand where we are going. While the Nexus 5k may be the “Napoleon Dynamite” of core devices, don’t underestimate its “Star Wars” power. The Nexus 5672UP is the ideal core device for your network and wallet. You can rip that chassis out and replace it with a device that will take up a whole 1U of rack space! If we didn’t have you at rack space, consider this: 1GbE or 10GbE on every port and even 40GbE on here too! Also, there is SFP, SFP+ support on all ports and QSPF if you’re ready for the speed. Every port on a 5672UP is capable of forwarding at line-rate, full-duplex without dropping a frame. And all these ports are non-blocking, meaning if you send it, it will be delivered. The “UP” in 5672UP stands for Unified Ports, meaning each port supports traditional Ethernet, Fibre Channel (FC) and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FcoE). We know what you’re thinking…price. As far as the cost goes, you could afford to put a pair of 5672UP’s in a VPC configuration and have Layer 3 HSRP redundancy. With the money you saved, you just bought yourself a redundant solution.

That’s the beauty of IT. There are so many different options and ways to approach your network. This can be a blessing and a curse for some but with careful thought and planning, you can optimize and secure your network to suit your organizations needs.

Bobby Grewal  is a Networking Engineer rockstar with years of networking know-how under his belt!