Cisco developed a set of undisclosed ASICs that power its new Nexus 9000 family of top-of-rack and end-of-row switches. It also created a proprietary optical module that slashes the cost of 40 Gbit/s interfaces.
In addition, the new systems use cards linked by couplers rather than traditional passive backplanes. The approach could ease the cost of upgrading the new switches by eliminating the need to buy a new chassis.
The Cisco announcement provided no details about the nature of its latest ASICs, the couplers that eliminate the need for a system backplane, or the low-cost optical modules. It also did not state whether the systems will support the OpenFlow standard, which has been the basis for many early SDN products to date.
The new products include two top-of-rack switches sporting up to 96 1/10GBase-T ports and 12 40Gbit QSFP+ ports along with one end-of-row switch packing eight slots in a 13RU chassis. Cisco plans to ship four- and 16-slot versions of the end-of-row switch before July.
The software includes an SDN controller that can manage up to a million end points as well as a set of application profiles for the controller. The software supports a wide variety of hypervisors from Microsoft, VMWare, and others.
Cisco pioneered the spin-in startup in 2002 with Andiamo, which built the company's first storage networking switches. In 2008 another spin-in, Nuova, created its first Fibre Channel over Ethernet switches.
Insieme "will probably have the most impact of all the spin-ins," says Kerravala. The nearly billion-dollar maximum payout to its founders, many of them Cisco veterans, "could be pretty lucrative for all those people who were already fabulously wealthy."