Catalyst 6500 FEX??

So not too long ago, Cisco announced plans for the Catalyst 6500 to support Fabric Extenders in the future. With the introduction of Nexus in the data center, I am having a hard time seeing the value in a 6500 series investment. I could imagine setting up a 6500 chassis in a building and having a FEX in closets to allow for a centrally managed access layer. But unless you are deploying a VSS solution and configuring a MEC to dual-home, the failure of the chassis would bring down the entire access layer. No STP in the closets sounds sexy, but at what cost. Now Smart Install would be a great idea for the campus, as far as easy deployment/replacement. If a client switch is failed you can just replace the switch with another identical switch and the network configures the switch automatically, based on the reported CDP information and the saved configuration file. Or, if you add a new switch the standard configuration is automatically applied and you can then do the customizations if needed.

Catalyst 6500 is nowadays mostly directed to campus networks. I don’t see a clear case for using this, because I don’t like the idea of a failing Catalyst 6500 bringing down the whole access layer. In data centers I can see where it is useful because the servers are dual-connected with teaming or link aggregation anyway. I can either dual-home the FEXes or distribute the FEXes accordingly. I can stay FIPS compliant with my VDC deployment (Saves a lot of space in my data center), and allocating my VDC ports top of row with the use of pinning is great.

What does everyone else think about this? Let me know by posting on my blog.


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