What if Ethernet failed?
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Major enhancements coming for Cisco Catalyst 6500
Cisco is also plans to scale the Catalyst 6500 backplane beyond its current 80Gbps per slot to support features like 100G Ethernet, Soderbery said. Cisco is also going to add some of the data center and network virtualization capabilities now found on the Nexus platforms to the Catalyst 6500 – features like FabricPath/TRILL multiple active Ethernet paths, FEX fabric extension, and Locator/Identifier Separation Protocol (LISP). The company also plans on improving the size and form factor of the Catalyst 6500, where smaller boxes would have the same performance as a full, 13-slot chassis, Soderbery said.“We have a vibrant roadmap for the Cat 6k,” he said. “So we’re going to be aggressive about pushing the 6k forward, optimizing around campus aggregation and core.”Features like 100G Ethernet and scaling down the footprint of the high-end, 13-slot Catalyst 6513 are “obvious” ehancements, Soderbery said. But some, like adding Nexus data center fabric and virtualization features, may not be.Cisco is in the latter stages of migrating its legacy Catalyst 6500 base to the E-series platforms with the new Sup 2T supervisor engine for campus networking, and to the Nexus switches in the data center. Of the 750,000 Catalyst 6500 chassis installed worldwide, the split between campus and data center deployment is roughly 50:50, Soderbery said, and 15% -- or 112,000 – still need to move onto the E-series platforms.The Sup2T migration is the fastest supervisor engine migration in the history for the Catalyst 6500, Soderbery said. Cisco has shipped 16,000 Sup2T’s to over 2,600 customers, and is on track to a $1 billion business in its current fiscal year, which ends in late July of 2013.Whether in the data center or the campus, Soderbery says the “end state” for those deployments is managing those networks as fabrics. That’s why current data center-focused features like FabricPath, TRILL and FEX may find a home on the Catalyst 6500 campus core.“We will be releasing over the next 12-18 months new innovations in the Cat 6k encompassing those technologies,” he said. “For campus use cases, we’re going to be focusing on continuing to invest in the Cat 6k.”Getting LISP onto the Catalyst 6500 is a priority, Soderbery said. LISP, which separates an IP address location from its identity, can be used to better support mobility and more flexible network designs in the campus, he said.
What if Ethernet failed?
"Standards, consistency, simplicity, scale and innovation would have suffered," says IDC analyst Rohit Mehra. "If there was no consistency, networking would be even more complex than it is today."Others agree."It would be more complicated, less reliable and slower," says Zeus Kerravala of ZK Research. "There'd be more outages, and perhaps our expectations on service levels would be lower.""We would have gone through a much longer period of proprietary networks," says Jon Oltsik, principal analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. "The goodness of IP, including the Internet, wouldn't have happened as quickly."Each segment of the network - local area, metro area and wide area - may have had a different technology. Token Ring would have dominated the LAN, though Token Bus in some instances - manufacturing floors, for example - would have had spot deployments.FDDI may have overtaken the metro area. And ATM and frame relay would have proliferated throughout the WAN, just as they did up until Ethernet-based services began displacing them.And with all of these different technologies populating different parts of the network, consistency of end-to-end service would likely take a hit. Gateways and bridges between different technologies would increase latency, and along with it, capital and operational expense.And advances like distributed computing and client/server computing - or distributed client/server computing - would have never have come about or been crippled if they did."There'd be no client/server, Microsoft would have had its own protocol and Novell's IPX would still be around," Oltsik says."It would have slowed down the move to client/server in the 1990s," Mehra says. "Minicomputer and mid-range systems would have stayed a lot longer with us."It may have also delayed the onset of 100Gbps speeds, Kerravala says. Token Ring increased in increments of 4x while Ethernet speeds increased 10x, though there were specifications being defined for 100Mbps and Gigabit Token Ring in the late 1990s.Online TV may also have been slower to emerge, Kerravala says, with Token Ring in the LAN, FDDI in the metro and ATM in the WAN.And IBM - not Cisco -- may have been the 800-pound gorilla in networking if Token Ring had won out in the LAN. IBM was long an advocate of Token Ring but that advocacy, and a huge chunk of IBM's networking business, succumbed to Ethernet and Cisco in 1999."IBM would have doubled in size because it would have controlled another standard," says ESG's Oltsik. "Cisco wouldn't have had the chance to ride the standards wave like it did. They and everyone else would have been in IBM's shadow."
Cisco said to cut ties with China's ZTE
The Cisco/ZTE situation comes amid a report due today from the U.S. House Intelligence Committee that states that equipment from ZTE and fellow Chinese telecom company Huawei pose a security threat to the U.S. The report, which follows a year-long investigation, recommends the U.S. block any attempts by ZTE and Huawei to make acquisitions or mergers in America, and encourages U.S. firms to procure equipment from other sources.A ZTE spokesperson said of the Cisco action that the company is "highly concerned" and "communicating" with Cisco, according to Reuters. The spokesperson also said ZTE is cooperating with the U.S. government on its investigation into sales to Iran.Cisco did not comment by the time this story was posted. But in June, Cisco said it "... complies with all U.S. export laws and requires our business partners to expressly acknowledge that they too must abide by these laws. Products such as these, which are not subject to individual export licenses, can be purchased from distributors and resold without Cisco's knowledge or control. We continue to investigate this matter, as any violation of U.S. export controls is a very serious matter."According to this week's Reuters story, ZTE's general counsel at its Texas-based subsidiary alleged that the parent company plotted a cover-up of the sale of Cisco gear to Iran, including possibly shredding documents. The FBI has launched a criminal probe into the allegations, the news service reports.ZTE has continued to do business in Iran while American-made technology has been subject to U.S. sanctions. A parts list dated July 2011 for an equipment contract between ZTE and an Iranian telecommunications company included several Cisco switches, Reuters reports. ZTE later agreed to sell five Cisco switches to another Iranian firm, according to the news service.Cisco and ZTE partnered for the past seven years. Cisco viewed ZTE as a means to combat Huawei, which had been beating out Cisco in emerging markets by offering significantly cheaper products, according to Reuters.But ZTE wanted to expand into the U.S. and Cisco did not want that, according to the Reuters report, which quoted "a former Cisco executive with knowledge of the matter."Read more about lans & wans in Network World's LANs & WANs section.
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