Cisco Bulks Up Switch Lineups for Emerging Workloads

The additions to the Catalyst, ASR and Aironet portfolios are aimed at helping businesses deal with changing demands from BYOD, IoT and the cloud.

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Cisco Systems is introducing new offerings into several switch products lines that officials say will help businesses keep up with the pace of change being fueled by such trends as the consumerization of IT and the rapidly growing Internet of things.

The networking giant is growing its Aironet, Catalyst and ASR switch families to give network administrators the technology they need to keep up with the rapid growth of the mobile traffic that is running over their infrastructure and to speed up their ability to introduce new applications and services.

The Internet of things (IoT), the expected skyrocketing increase in the number of devices becoming connected and the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend are promising to push huge amounts of traffic onto enterprise and service provider networks. The new switch products are designed to help businesses address those challenges, according to Prashanth Shenoy, senior director of product and solutions marketing for enterprise networking and mobility at Cisco.

Network professionals regularly tell Shenoy that their primary concern is the inability of their network infrastructures to keep pace with the rate of change.

"I know exactly what they're talking about," Shenoy wrote in a post on the company blog. "Unfortunately, with the way things are trending, going with the idea of, 'It has always worked, why change it?' is becoming less of a viable solution. … Sorry network pros, but your legacy network's performance and reliability are going to be scrutinized more than ever."

The 13 new products in the switch portfolios come a week after Cisco officials released the latest edition of the company's annual report on the growth trends in mobile network traffic. According to the company's numbers, yearly worldwide mobile data traffic by 2020 will hit 366.8 exabytes, a huge jump from the 44.2 exabytes a year ago. This will be driven by significant increases in the number of mobile device users, connected devices and the speed of mobile networks worldwide over the next five years.

"Not only will more devices be connecting to the network, but also they will access a lot more business-critical applications requiring performance, reliability, and user experience than ever before," Shenoy wrote.

In the Catalyst lineup, Cisco is adding the Supervisor 6T for Catalyst 6K Series and Supervisor 8L-E for Catalyst 4K Series, which are designed to support customers already using Catalyst 6500 and 6800 switches with improved throughput. The Catalyst 3650-Mini is a 24/48-port Gigabit Ethernet Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) switch that is designed to give smaller organizations similar performance to what larger companies get from the Catalyst 3650.

On the wireless front, Cisco is introducing the Aironet 2800 and 3800 access points, which support the 802.11ac Wave 2 standard and come with features such as Flexible Radio assignment, which automatically adapts to changes in the environment. In addition, the access points come with smart antenna ports that automatically recognize and configure the antennas in the devices. Both features are designed to make it easier for customers to manage their wireless networks, Shenoy wrote.

The ASR 1006-X and 1009-X are designed for high availability at a time when the network edge is under pressure from such bandwidth-intensive apps as cloud computing, software-as-a-service, high-definition video and mobile workloads, Shenoy said. These workloads put a premium on scalability and speed and the new switches offer high availability, full redundancy and a modular design, with up to 100G bps in 6U (10.5-inch) form factor.

They also offer a pay-as-you-go licensing model.

"When more throughput is needed, simply activate the appropriate software license," Shenoy wrote. "Software upgrades are done in-service. No hardware upgrade needed. No scheduled downtime. The x-chassis goals: high availability and resiliency."

Other new offerings include the Connect Mobile Experience (CMX) Cloud for gaining more insights from wireless networks, new access points, switches and management capabilities for the company's Meraki lineup and the latest release of the Cisco's Wide Area Application Service (WAAS) software for improved optimization of mobile apps.