Cisco Offers More Resilient Stackable Switches

Next-generation stackable switch family emphasizes resiliency, ease of operation, performance and unified services.

Cisco Systems Inc. Tuesday launched the next generation of its stackable switch family in a new line that emphasizes resiliency, ease of operation, performance and unified services.

The new Cisco Catalyst 3750 series initially includes four new stackable switches for Fast Ethernet and Gigabit connectivity. The 24- and 48-port stackables use new Cisco StackWise 32-Gigabit-per-second interconnect technology that is integral to the data forwarding path of the multilayer switches. Earlier generations of stackables created interconnects as an afterthought, according to Kathy Hill, vice president and general manager of Ciscos desktop switching business unit in San Jose, Calif.

"Being totally integrated with our data forwarding logic gives users the ability to simply manage additions and removals from the stack. If you need to add another switch in a branch office, anyone there can just add a new one by putting in a power cable and adding a new device. Any decisions youve already made, such as which software version youre running, will be maintained," she said.

Other configuration parameters such as VLANs and quality of service parameters are automatically loaded into a new switch when it boots up. Replacements for failed switches automatically load the configurations set up in the failed device.

The new line is targeted at a variety of uses, including branch office connectivity, for the core of small networks, smaller to medium wiring closets and small data centers where space is at a premium.

For the units that include fiber-based Gigabit Ethernet uplinks, Cisco employed the industrys next-generation copper to fiber interconnect technology, dubbed Small Form-factor Pluggable (SPF), instead of GBIC interfaces. "You dont find that much in the industry today, but it adds another level of improvement thats the size of your finger," said Hill.

Cisco built new resiliency features into the new stackable line, which operates as a single spanning tree bridge but is routing capable. Any switch in the stack can take over the routing function should the primary routing switch fail, and all other switches in the stack will continue to forward traffic "in a non-stop fashion," she said.

Although little demand exists in North America for IP V6—outside of universities and research facilities—Cisco made the Catalyst 3750s IP V6-ready through beefed-up hardware support. Only a software upgrade is required to add the expanded addressing that comes with IP V6.

The four new 3750 stackables range from $4,995 for 24 10/100 ports with two SFP Gigabit uplinks to $9,995 for a 48-port 10/000 switch with four SPF uplinks. The switches are due in June.

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