Cisco Lays Out Switch Strategy

Strategy includes a number of planned upgrades as well as efforts to streamline product development and reduce costs.

SAN JOSE, Calif.—Cisco Systems Inc.s strategy for switching—which makes up 41 percent of the firms revenues—includes a number of planned upgrades as well as efforts to streamline product development and reduce costs, according to company officials here.

Most new developments focus on the high-end Catalyst 6500 chassis switch, although many innovations trickle down to other switching platforms from there, according to Charlie Giancarlo, senior vice president and general manager of product development at Cisco.

Cisco is focusing its innovation efforts on continued manageability improvements for this year and beyond—with a focus on centralized management functions that can be "pushed out" to remote sites, according to Andy Bechtolsheim, vice president and general manager of Ciscos Gigabit switching business unit.

Especially with security functions, "there is a shortage of the security functions," he said.

Bechtolsheim acknowledged that Cisco is working on more global authentication systems that can better safeguard company secrets from internal threats. For such protection, a multi-layer system is required to ensure the right people get access to appropriate information.

In tackling configuration management, which will become more experts," he said. But Cisco, through its own experience running a large global network, can "advise customers on how best to organize complex as Cisco adds more switch functions, Bechtolsheim said that Ciscos goal is to automate setup, configuration and maintenance "as much as we can. We want to give a single person a view of the whole thing," he said.

In switch architecture, Luca Cafiero, senior vice president and general manager of switching, voice and storage, outlined Cisco investments in high performance. He hinted that a new chip, code-named Sacramento, would contain 180 million transistors on a single chip—four times as many as that of the Pentium 4 chip at the same size. That is among 29 other ASICs in development at Cisco today, he said.

Ciscos new Catalyst 720 Supervisor module delivers for the Catalyst 6500 chassis the ability to support 40 Gbps throughput per slot today. Cafiero expects to be able to double that to 80 Gbps, he said. The timeframe for release of such capability is dependent on customer demand, he added.

Cafiero, as an aside, said he does not expect to see Ethernet data rates increase by another factor of 10—breaking into 100 Gbps, but he does expect to see 40 Gbps in the next two years.

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