Cisco Opens Up Switches to Industry Interoperability

Cisco intends to bring more networking solutions under the umbrella of its open Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) approach. The vendor’s Nexus 9000 Series switches will support the IETF standard BGP EVPN protocol (Border Gateway Protocol – Ethernet Virtual Private Network) for overlay networks. Overlay networks provide the foundation for scalable multi-tenant cloud networks.

The IETF EVPN draft proposal was developed by network providers Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and Juniper, along with network operators AT&T, Bloomberg and Verizon.  BGP is an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard, and the most scalable of all routing protocols. BGP is the routing protocol of the global Internet, as well as for Service Provider private networks.

Support for BGP EVPN on the Cisco Nexus 9000 is scheduled to be available this month, with support for Cisco Nexus 7000 series switches and Cisco ASR 9000 series routers scheduled to be available in Q2 CY15. 

Nexus 9000 support for the BGP EVPN protocol enables better integration with third-party overlay controllers, Cisco said. With BGP EVPN, the Nexus 9000 offers a solution for data center and cloud networks, offering a choice of traditional topologies, VXLAN overlays, and Cisco ACI for policy-based automation.

IT organizations can run an EVPN VXLAN controller on a traditional Nexus 9000 switch in “standalone” mode. Or they can deploy Nexus 9000 switches in ACI mode with the APIC controller to take advantage of the ACI application policy model for capabilities such as: integrated overlay, virtual and physical network visibility, system telemetry, and health scores. Both solutions provide investment protection for customers whether by extending the ACI policy model across existing Nexus infrastructure or by support for BGP-EVPN across Nexus platforms.

Cisco also recently announced Network Services Headers (NSH), a protocol for Layer 4-7 application services and security appliance insertion into overlay and cloud networks that Cisco is promoting through the IETF along with Citrix, Microsoft, Rackspace, Red Hat and others.

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