Cisco has introduced the Nexus 5000 family of switches, the first product developed by Nuova, the company acquired by Cisco.

The announcements, which were been made on the opening day of the Cisco Partner Solutions Summit in Hawaii, are seen as a way of supporting Cisco's plans to introduce virtualisation into the datacentre to reduce the total costs of ownership for the enterprise customer.

The switch the companies co-developed is called the Nexus 5000. It is a "top of rack" switch designed for datacentre consolidation through a unified switching fabric that supports Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), Data Centre Ethernet and virtualisation technologies.

Edison Peres, vice president, worldwide channels, Cisco, said that the latest announcements were a step forward to looking at parallel infrastructure with the integration of the fibre channel with Ethernet.

The Nexus 5000 runs the same NX-OS operating systems as Cisco's Nexus 7000 core datacentre switch, launched in January. It can connect to that switch, to the Cisco Catalyst 6500 in the aggregation/core layers of the datacentre, and to the Cisco MDS 9000 storage-area network (SAN) switches through its native Fibre Channel interfaces.

These connectivity options help customers consolidate I/O in the access layer, while maintaining investments in the aggregation and core layers, said Cisco.

FCoE support allows the Nexus 5000 to consolidate LAN, Fibre Channel and iSCSI-based SANs and server cluster traffic onto an Ethernet-based unified fabric, Cisco says. The Nexus 5000 also supports virtual machine capabilities, which allow IT organisations to dynamically provision application and infrastructure services from shared pools of compute, storage and network resources.

Partners supporting the Nexus 5000 include 3PAR Data, APC, Broadcom, Dell, EMC, Emulex, Intel, NetApp, Netxen, Panduit, QLogic, Scalent and VMware. They are developing products that interoperate with the new switch, said Cisco.

The Cisco Nexus 5000 Series is scheduled to be available in May. Pricing starts at $36,000 (£18,000) for the fixed configuration 40-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch.