Cisco this week debuted new products in its Catalyst line of switches, as well as throughout its portfolio. The refreshed line-up was unveiled at the company's Cisco Live conference, which runs until Thursday in Orlando, Florida.
The high-profile event is a natural launching pad for new products -- but Cisco says its newest releases are different than most updates to its switches and routers. The company claims that the new offerings not only improve on their predecessors' core functions but also open access to the Internet of Everything, which the Cisco CEO John Chambers has touted as a multi-trillion dollar global opportunity.
The new products include three Catalyst 6800 models, which update the 6500 series and will be available in July. At the top of the line, the Catalyst 6807-XL modular switch is deigned to anchor campus networks. Optimized for 10/40/100 Gbps, the XL can use some line cards already deployed in 6500 set-ups. It also features a 7-slot, 10-rack modular chassis with up to 880 Gbps per slot.
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The company also released the Catalyst 6880-X semi-fixed switch, intended to make 10 Gbps more accessible to the mid-market, and the Catalyst 6800ia Instant Access switch, which can be plugged into an existing Catalyst 6800 or 6500 switch and automatically inherit all the feature richness of the other machine. Cisco says IT managers won't need to configure the 6800ia, which should lead to simpler and faster deployments for those who want to treat multiple buildings as a single extended switch.
Outside the Catalyst family, Cisco introduced the 4500E Supervisor Engine 8E. It extends access to the company's Unified Access platform, which brings wired and wireless networks under a single set of policies and a single management pane. The company also unveiled two routers: the ISR 4451-AX, which is designed for large branch offices and includes a pay-as-you-go option, and the ASR 1000-AX, which provides application services for WAN aggregation. The ISR 4451-AX is available now, and the other products are slated to hit the market in July.
For those happy with their existing 6500-series gear, the new products might not have a lot of appeal.
Cisco Senior Director Inbar Lasser-Raab said in an interview the new products aren't about incremental spec upgrades; they're about opening the entire network to programmability, automating the network to respond immediately to applications and pursuing the business opportunities that result.
But programmability is only part of the company's Enterprise Networks Architecture. In May, at Interop, Cisco VP Rob Soderbery said the company sees SDN and trends toward programmable networking as only one part of a larger stack that ultimately constitutes the Internet of Everything.
The company has outlined a number of business applications -- from automated smart cities to location-based retail applications -- that require new tools for developers, and new infrastructure that can manage the bandwidth, security and distributed intelligence that next-gen apps will demand. Cisco says the concept has already generated $613 billion this year, and that trillions more will be up for grabs over the next decade.
Lasser-Raab said the new products factor into this vision because they support the full capability of Cisco's onePK APIs, the toolkit that allows developers to create networking applications that take advantage of technologies related to the cloud, big data and mobility. She said existing gear is open to programmability to various extents, and that Cisco has worked to expand these capabilities. Even so, she said the most cutting-edge applications require new technology. Lasser-Raab compared the new switches and routers to racehorses, and legacy options to ranch horses or even donkeys.
Cisco's Internet of Everything bullishness is largely a validation of the Internet of Things, the premise that connected devices can drive efficiencies and improve decision-making. But by envisioning a network in which its gear provides most of the connections, the company is attempting to extend its dominance of the traditional campus networking market into an era that will be defined by the cloud and mobility.
To illustrate, Lasser-Raab said that if a doctor walks around a hospital carrying a tablet, the network can recognize when she approaches a patient's room, identify that she's a doctor and automatically push the patient's full history to the device. The tablet can allow video consultations with other doctors, all while keeping data safe and the user experience consistent. These efficiencies, she argued, have the ability to redefine business workflows, and to drive game-changing efficiencies and opportunities.
Cisco is pursuing its Internet of Everything agenda aggressively, including taking a leading role in the Internet of Things World Forum, which will be held in Spain this October. Lasser-Raab said that all the company's products would be refreshed to take full advantage of onePK APIs within the next 12 months.