What is our primary use case?
We use the 9000s in a series of different things in both the data center and even in the LAN (Local Area Network). Mainly we just use the products for the management of all the traffic — nothing really crazy. Being in the government, we can't use ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure) and certain other technologies yet. The 9000s are deployed for high-end layer two and layer three switching capabilities.
How has it helped my organization?
The solution has improved operations by helping us resolve bottlenecks throughout our infrastructure. A lot of it came down to the fact that these new products have a much higher throughput. So it kind of cleans traffic up and makes things a lot smoother in process.
What is most valuable?
The most valuable benefit of this solution is the ability to use all the different features like VX LAN (Virtual Extensible LAN) and PPC. We use the solutions in the data center and on the LAN side. For all intents and purposes, we were kind of hoping that the 9000s would take on the form of multiple contacts and VDCs (Virtual Device Contexts) like the 7000s have, but we haven't seen that capability come out yet.
What needs improvement?
The only real feature that we are hoping would evolve at some point is multi-contexts to get into multi-tenancy type environments. We are very interested in that with the 7000s. But we didn't like all the other robustness that 7000s had that we had to pay extra for. 9000s fit our needs a little bit better, but multi-contexts would be a really good feature for organizations like us, so we can separate different tenants logically and in a more secure fashion.
For how long have I used the solution?
We have been using the product for about 18 months.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
So far the stability is great. We never had any kind of problems with it. I really can't even speak to any questions about the stability because of the fact that we had zero problems. We've only been using it for about a year-and-a-half though. We are hoping to keep continue on that path and that everything continues to perform at a high level.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
The scalability of the product is great. We buy way above what we really need. So when it comes to density, throughput, feature sets, software, etcetera, we find out what we need and we can just upgrade it. That approach has made things really good. We look forward to tapping into the ability to start automating things through Python and Linux customizations.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We were getting bottlenecks at throughput because our equipment was just getting too old and too slow. The whole architecture was archaic. We saw our chance to make a major change and not just replace a hubcap with a hubcap. We decided to go with a much better solution.
How was the initial setup?
The setup wasn't really complex beyond the fact that we switched to a different platform that has a totally different operating system. It was a bit of a learning curve for us. We weren't heavily into Nexus, so current staff didn't have skills using that iOS screen immediately. But now it's a lesson learned, always very easy to get around after a little while.
What about the implementation team?
We went through a reseller for implementation. Worldwide Technologies was the one we chose for the major part of this. We've also used Force 3 for some other smaller purchases and the integration of this kind of product, too. But our biggest purchase that changed our environment was through Worldwide Technologies.
Our experience with them was outstanding. They were willing to meet with us, engage with us and discuss where we wanted to go with the capability ad nauseam with no restraints. They would come to us and have workshops and everything without any kind of problems.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We went straight to Cisco and actually did not consider other solutions. It was partly because of familiarity. All of their staff were trained in what we needed. We can change product lines within Cisco if we needed to upgrade without any pain points. We didn't bother to consider other vendors.
What other advice do I have?
I would rate the Cisco solutions as a nine out of ten because nothing is a ten. Everything can improve. It's a top-notch product and it has not done anything short of everything we wanted it to do.
As far as advice, I would definitely say to try to look five years ahead, instead of just one or two. In our case, unique things about the nine K's are that they can run in iOS or ACI mode and that works with our planning. It was very favorable that we could maintain our current style of infrastructure that is not as automated. But then, through a transition plan, we won't need to buy new hardware to switch over to a more automated approach like with ACI. For us, that was a very favorable capability of this product that conformed to our future modeling.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.