Cisco has disclosed that a clock signal component used in several of its products, including ISR 4300 router series, ASA security devices, and Nexus 9000 switches, is defective.
"Although the Cisco products with these components are currently performing normally, we expect product failures to increase over the years beginning after the unit has been in operation for approximately 18 months," Cisco said in its advisory this week. "Once the component has failed, the system will stop functioning, will not boot, and is not recoverable."
Many of the products impacted are some of Cisco's most popular. Cisco has published a full list of the products impacted by the flawed clock component. Cisco Meraki MX84 security appliance and MS350 switch line are among those impacted.
Cisco did not release specifics of the faulty clock part, or identify the supplier. The problem is not specific to Cisco, and other companies using the component are impacted, Cisco said. It didn't name any other impacted companies.
Other networking vendors contracted Friday didn't immediately say whether their products are impacted.
Cisco said it learned of the scope of the problem in late November and has been working with its supplier to identify the root cause, test fixes and implement a remediation plan. For customers with products that have the defective component, Cisco is offering replacement products for products under warranty or covered by a service contract dated as of Nov. 16, 2016. Some unit replacements will be new, and some refurbished.
The problem has networking pros scrambling. In a blog post Thursday, network engineer Anthony Mattke wrote that many engineers started hearing rumors of problems surrounding the ISR 4331.
"Many of us have received phone calls at this time from our account managers… while some of us, myself included, have been left in the dark. This is troubling considering how many products are out in the field," he wrote.
Tony Fortunato, a network performance specialist and Network Computing contributor, said he'd heard something about the problem, but was shocked at Cisco's disclosure that it can result in complete equipment failure.
"I can see network staff ordering, scheduling replacement equipment all the while wondering when their equipment is going to fail. Yikes!" he said in an email.