Cisco Upgrades Network Switches, Routers for SDN Environments

The new switches and routers are part of Cisco’s larger Cisco ONE strategy of bringing greater programmability to all parts of the network.

Cisco Systems officials are refreshing the company's campus and edge switches and routers, bringing greater programmability to the appliances as the company looks to continue pushing forward with its Cisco Open Network Environment initiative.

The new and enhanced switches and routers, announced June 24 at the Cisco Live 2013 conference in Orlando, Fla., are part of the company's new Enterprise Network Architecture, which is designed to drive the programmability and automation to networks that are needed to deal with such significant data center trends as mobility and cloud computing.

Cisco's Open Network Environment (ONE) and onePK developer toolkit are the company's answer to the demands for more simplicity, programmability and automation that have given rise to software-defined networks (SDNs) and network functions virtualization (NFV). According to Cisco officials, the goal of Cisco ONE is to bring software programmability throughout the network—from ASICs and operating systems to networking functions and services.

Cisco's onePK enables developers to create networking applications that are designed to facilitate business applications. With the Enterprise Network Architecture strategy, Cisco officials said they are looking to bring greater programmability and openness to campus and branch environments to improve performance and agility, and make them more application-aware.

Cloud computing and IT mobility are becoming increasingly important to an organization's business, and the network is the foundation for those trends, according to Sujai Hajela, vice president and general manager of Cisco's Enterprise Networking Group.

"Enterprise networks are getting more relevant to business," Hajela said in an interview with eWEEK. "Networking is a game changer for our customers."

The numbers back that up, he said. In a survey by Cisco, 71 percent of respondents said they were deploying more applications than a year ago, and 78 percent said the network is more critical now for delivering applications than it was last year. However, 40 percent said their networks were not ready for bring-your-own-device (BYOD), and 38 percent said they were not ready for cloud computing.

Cisco ONE and other SDN efforts hold the promise of making networks more flexible, programmable, scalable and agile by decoupling the network intelligence from the underlying physical infrastructure and putting it into a software-based controller. In addition, network applications and services can more easily be created to make networks more responsive to business application needs.

Cisco over the next 12 months will offer onePK support across its entire enterprise switching and routing products, starting with the ISR 4451-AX and ASR 1000-AX routers, which were announced June 24. The onePK support will come in the first quarter of 2014. Cisco also is bringing support for OpenFlow—the open-source software-based network controller—to its infrastructure.

At Cisco Live, the company introduced three Catalyst switches, including the Catalyst 6807-XL modular switch for campus environments. Optimized for 10/40/100 Gigabits per second, the switch is compatible with Catalyst 6500 switches and offers a seven-slot, 10-rack-unit chassis with up to 880G-bps-per-slot speed and 11.4 TB-per-port switching capacity. The 6880-X semi-fixed switch is aimed at the midmarket.

The Catalyst 6800ia Instant Access switch offers a simplified Catalyst 6000 campus operating environment, with one-touch deployments and consolidation of access switches across multiple locations into a single extended switch.

The 4500E Supervisor Engine 8E enables Cisco's Unified Access capabilities—for both wired and wireless networks—in the switch.

Cisco's ISR 4451-AX router lets IT administrators deploy application services quickly and offers native WAN optimization that brings LAN-like experience to branch locations through a services-aware data plan. It also offers native services and a pay-as-you-grow purchase model. The ASR 100-AX integrates Application Visibility and Control and AppNav services with virtual wide area application services (vWAAS).

The ISR 4451-AX is available now, while the ASR 1000-AX and 4500E Supervisor Engine 8E will be available in July. The Catalyst 6800 switch will be available in November.