Data center-class switches: A buyer's guide
A collection of articles that takes you from defining technology needs to purchasing options
Editor's note: This product overview is part of a series on data center-class switches that examines what to look for when getting ready to purchase them. This vendor-specific product overview provides additional information about the features of Cisco's Nexus 7700 series of data center-class switches.
The Cisco Nexus 7700 series is a family of data-class center switches designed for enterprise IT environments that are particularly well-suited to highly virtualized data centers. The series comes in three different models: the 7718, 7710 and 7706, with 18, 10 and six slots, respectively. The series doesn't natively support Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure software-defined networking strategy, but the gear can function as interconnect devices to link together multiple ACI deployments.
All three switches have passive midplanes and supervisor redundancy, as well as a number of additional features, depending on which line cards are chosen. In May 2015, Cisco added support for 40 GbE connectivity for Fibre Channel over Ethernet, NAS, iSCSI, IP-based object storage and LAN on its Nexus 7700 switches.
Cisco Nexus 7718
The Nexus 7718 switch has 18 slots: 16 I/O module slots and two dedicated supervisor module slots. It supports a maximum of 768 1/10 GbE ports, 384 40 GbE ports or 192 100 GbE ports, and has 1.3 terabits per second (Tbps) of bandwidth per slot for a maximum switching capability of 83 Tbps. It has 26 rack units (RU) of rack space.
It also has six fabric module slots, 16 power supply slots and two dedicated supervisors, providing full redundancy, as well asin-service software upgrade compatibility to reduce downtime. Cisco fabric modules are cards equipped with network-forwarding engines to provide distributed parallel forwarding connectivity for line cards. Inter-module switching is performed via crossbar fabric chips on the individual I/O and fabric modules. All redundant components within the switch -- supervisor modules, fabric modules, power supplies and fan trays – are compatible with online insertion and removal (OIR), meaning they can be inserted or removed without affecting system operation.
Cisco Nexus 7710
The Nexus 7710 has 10 slots, eight of which are I/O module slots. It supports up to 384 1/10 GbE ports, 192 40 GbE ports and 96 100 GbE ports. The switch has a per-slot bandwidth of 1.3 Tbps and a maximum switching capacity of 42 Tbps. Like the Nexus 7718, the Nexus 7710 has six fabric module slots, two supervisor slots and OIR-compatible redundant hardware. It has eight power supply slots and 14 RU of rack space.
Cisco Nexus 7706
The Nexus 7706 is the smallest offering in the Nexus 7700 series. It has six slots, of which four are available for I/O modules. The 7706 supports a maximum of 192 1/10 GbE ports, 96 40 GbE ports and 48 100 GbE ports. Like the other two switches, the Nexus 7706 has a per slot bandwidth of 1.3 Tbps. It has a total switching capacity of 21 Tbps and supports six fabric module slots, two supervisor slots and OIR-compatible redundant components. The switch has four power supply slots and 9 RU of rack space.
Pricing and support
Cisco does not sell the Nexus series switches directly to customers, but rather operates through resellers, which determine their own prices. However, the final price points range between $75,000 and $200,000, depending on the model.
The Cisco list price -- similar to a manufacturer's suggested retail price-- for the switches depends on what configuration is chosen. A Nexus 7718 chassis has a list price of about $50,000, a Nexus 7710 has a list price of about $30,000, and a Nexus 7706 has a list price of about $18,000. However, these do not include the line cards or fabric and supervisor modules.
Cisco offers online support, and sells separate support kits for the Nexus 7700 series.