Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cisco 4001i Nexus Switch for IBM BladeCenter in Depth

I have been talking to a few customers recently about the Cisco Nexus 4001i Switch for the IBM BladeCenter.  The product looks very nice and I have recently discovered some additional information that I wanted to share.

If you are unfamiliar with the product, head over to Kevin's site and take a look at this link and this link.  He has some very good links from Cisco about the switch.  In addition, I found a link to the IBM RedPaper on the switch here.  For those of you that don't like links, here's the summary: It is a 20 port (14 down to blades, 6 uplinks), non-blocking 10GB FCoE capable switch utilizing the Nexus OS.  The FCoE functionality is optional.  To enable FCoE you need to purchase the FC Enablement Kit (IBM Part Number 49Y9983).

Here are some additional notes:
  • The 4001i is NOT an FC Forwarder, it is a FIP Snooping switch
  • You may have already noticed but this switch DOES NOT have FC ports.  To talk FC you will need to go out of the 4001i into a Nexus 5k and break out the FC there
  • If using the Emulex Virtual Fabric Blade Adapter there is no vNIC functionality
  • The switch only supports Cisco SFP's/SFP+ cables and it doesn't ship with any. You will need to purchase them separately to go with the switch.  They are NOT resold through IBM.  Since there are 6 uplinks, you will need a maximum of 6 SFP's (or copper SFP+ cables) per switch.
  • The switch will support a 1GB connection down to the IBM Blade 2port/4port 1GB Adapter. I questioned why you would need this but on second thought I really like this. This way you can provide additional 1GB connections to a server that may not need 10GB without the purchase of additional 1GB switches.  The fact that you can "share" a 1GB and 10GB CFFh slot is VERY nice!
I'll post more on the switch as I dig deeper!


David Watts said...

Aaron, that's a good summary of the switch. I'd say the support of the 2/4 Port 1Gb Ethernet CFFh Expansion Cards is useful for customers that either have that card already installed in some of their servers or want a cheaper option for some of the servers in their BladeCenter chassis. David.

Aaron Delp said...

David - Thank you for comment, I hadn't thought of that. Thank you!

I was thinking along the lines of a net new installation and it seems everything I do these days is VMware based but what if the customer wanted a blade that wasn't 10G and maybe just wanted an extra NIC or two in the same chassis?

I take it back, I really like that!

Andrew Miler said...

The note about buying the SFP's from Cisco reminds me of a comment Botkin made....if I recall correctly, with 8 GB FC or higher all SFP's will have to be from the manufacturer....completely lockin basically (and higher costs....while SFP's are cheap, it does add up).

Aaron Delp said...

Hey Andrew! At least from Cisco I see more and more things going SFP+ to a TOR (top of rack) switch. The SFP+ are a lot cheaper because everything is copper. We have had many customers go with Cisco based solutions based largely on SFP+ cables costs. You are correct, they sure add up quick!