Cisco Nexus, Love Connection or Bad Medicine?

The aptly named Cisco Nexus is all about connections and has certainly garnered a lot of attention. Add to that the powerhouse that is Cisco marketing and voila! You have yourself a product on the minds and hearts of system admins and CIO's everywhere. But is it all it’s cracked up to be?


More importantly, is the Cisco Nexus right for you?

Let's dabble in some details, shall we? Here is our Cisco Nexus review:

  • First, the Cisco Nexus 3000. As a 48 port SFP+ switch it looks fairly unassuming. However, when backed into a corner it can pack a punch. With support for 1, 10, and 40 GB standards this 1.2 Tbps throughput beastie can make you sit up and take notice.

  • Second, the Cisco Nexus 5000. This model family features SFP+ and fiber-channel connectivity, as well as gig copper, depending on the model and configuration. With throughput ranging from 520 Gbps to 1.9 Tbps it knows its role as an anyplace in the rack dominator.

  • Lastly, the Nexus 7000. This is the king of 10 gig. Supporting up to 512 10 gig connections and 230 Gbps per slot throughput it's not for the faint of heart. With 10 and 18 slot configurations there is plenty of room for all of the core/data center needs.

Sound great? Certainly it’s an impressive product, but does your organization need Cisco Nexus switches yet? With a significant price tag it bears consideration.

So what are the other reasons you might drop it like it’s hot?

  • NX-OS is one of the biggest. It's not IOS. The software on these bad boys is different, however it bears resemblance to its older cousin. While many are still seeking to master IOS, adding in a new operating system will mean time taken to understand and wrap your mind around the new "language" your Cisco switches are speaking.
  • Also, while the Nexus is certainly the connection king it lacks any of the service modules the Cisco Catalyst 6500 currently has. Firewall, wireless, etc. are all absent. Support for MPLS and legacy protocols is also absent.


So what does it all mean?

While the Nexus boasts impressive numbers of connections and throughput it is by no means a replacement for the Cisco Catalyst 6500 series platform.

Many customers are discovering that although they've adopted the Nexus in some fashion they can still use the 6500 cooperatively as a distribution point and as a device that handles the services that the Nexus doesn't.


Can everyone go out and get the Nexus? No, nor should they.

Many customers rushed to adopt the 1gig connectivity they currently have and still aren't fully utilizing. A single 1gig port for a user is still plenty of bandwidth in many cases. While 10gig certainly has its place, there are many who don't have a need for it in the abundance the Nexus provides. The 6500 platform is not only still viable, it makes more sense for those and many other customers.

If someone just recommended the Nexus to you and you aren't sure, or if you happened to see it and it made your mouth water but you're on the fence, please get in touch with Cisco product engineers like myself. We can assess your particular situation and make recommendations that make sense. Plus, we can suggest for you a sleek 6500 configuration with 10gig that will wow you in performance and, with refurbished networking hardware like equal2new, we can save you those hard won budget dollars. Instead of looking for love in all the wrong places, let us help you out. That's why we're here!


Still not absolutely sure whether you should upgrade to the Cisco 6500? No need to stress, we have created a special smart buyer’s guide to the Cisco Catalyst 6500 series to help answer the kinds of questions above and more.

It's important that we provide resources to educate our customers so that they can make intelligent decisions about their investment. For many, the Cisco 6500 is a great choice. But it’s not for everyone.

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