Cisco Nexus Review

Significantly increased our throughput and added redundancy to our data center

What is our primary use case?

This solution is used in our data center. It is our layer-two switches that connect all of our servers to the data center firewall. Our data center is a little bit different than most in that we're only layer-two in the data center.

How has it helped my organization?

We have increased the throughput of our datacenter. Where before we had switches that were two, one-gig LAG uplinks, we now have eighty-gig. This means that the underlying, layer-two network is not going to be the bottleneck of our data center anymore. It's going to be the other peripherals like our F5 and our Palo Alto that need to be upgraded to provide more throughput.

What is most valuable?

We leverage Cisco DCNM a lot, which allows us to automate. We're working toward allowing the server administrators to configure their own ports for their new servers that they're spinning up in the data center.

What needs improvement?

Our only complaint is about the licensing because it can always be a little more cost-effective.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability of this solution is great. We couldn't afford to buy the ASIC solution, so we bought the Nexus 9Ks and put them in a Spine-and-Leaf topology. We then made each of the leaves their own vPC peers as well, so it allows us to have redundancy between servers.

How are customer service and technical support?

Our local Cisco engineer was amazing during the whole process. He assisted us many times when installing and configuring the system. He also gave us advice on DCNM and how to set it up.

We've opened one tech case where we had to replace a switch because we believed there was a port that was bad. We had the new switch within one business day, so technical support has been awesome. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We had Cisco switches in our data center that were reaching their end-of-life in a few years. We also had other vendor switches that were coming up on end-of-life, and we as a team, with our manager, decided that we wanted a one-vendor solution. It would make troubleshooting a lot easier because we wouldn't be opening up multiple tech cases to solve problems. Cisco provided the best solution for us.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of this solution was only complex because we didn't have Nexus switches in our data center. We had a multi-vendor data center and the Cisco switches that we did have in there were the Catalyst series. So, it was only complex for us because we were learning a new platform. After we got through the learning phase, it was very simple and easy to set up.

What about the implementation team?

We handled the implementation in-house and asked our local Cisco engineer for help when needed.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We have a three-year subscription for our licensing fees. For us, this product is perfect for what we need and it came at the perfect price point.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Arista and Juniper were both on the shortlist. We bought a few Juniper QFX series switches, and we did not like the product at all. We were investigating Arista, but Cisco came in with an awesome pricing plan for us, and a data center solution that met our needs. It was a lot cheaper than Arista, which is why our manager went with that selection.

What other advice do I have?

This product has absolutely surpassed our expectation of throughput. The network team used to be blamed for slowness in the data center, but now we can confidently say that it has nothing to do with us. We're providing the organization with eighty-gigs of throughput in all directions to the firewalls. Troubleshooting poorly-performing applications is easier now because we can say that the bottleneck is not in the data center. 

We could be doing much more with our Nexus 9K switches, but they are not doing as much as they are capable of because we only have layer-two in our data center. This is the way our data center was set up and how the executive team wants it to be run. In larger data centers and larger companies, they're using the full capabilities.

My recommendation for anybody who is researching this solution is to ask for a demonstration from your local Cisco support. We had an awesome support engineer who did a demo with us. He brought in four switches and set up DCNM. We got to see the benefits of how DCNM would help us. We're transitioning to more automation because we have fewer people than we did, so the DCNM product is awesome. It used to be a twenty or thirty-minute process to add a VLAN in our data center, and now it takes approximately three minutes. The Cisco DCNM and the 9K switches were the beginning, to show what we can start doing as a network team to leverage the technology that we have.

I would rate this solution a ten out of ten.

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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