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Segments of Cisco Catalyst 6500 Line Nearing End of Life: What Now?

It's time: Cisco Systems has issued end-of-life announcements for segments of its Catalyst 6503, 6506 and 6509 platforms. Customers will have until November to receive hardware support; that same month, the vendor will stop selling its Catalyst 6513. Hardware support for the 6513 will cease in August 2017.

What does that mean? Enterprises should prepare to upgrade--which probably isn't a surprise, as Cisco has been looking to retire various elements of the 6500 line for some time. However, there are options for those wishing to avoid end-of-life realities for these Catalyst 6500 platforms. After-market equipment specialists such as Network Hardware Resale (NHR) continue to offer support for equipment once an original equipment manufacturer such as Cisco does not.

Mark Kelly, VP of IT at NHR, says many enterprises simply can't justify a complete refresh of gear that's performing as required and still has a lot of life left in it. "If IT managers are comfortable with the gear they have, our service can support them as long as they are comfortable," he explains.

Kelly notes that most organizations aren't likely to replace all of their gear in one fell swoop--especially those with cost constraints, such as healthcare and education. After-market specialists can support older equipment even as an enterprise updates parts of the network. After all, replacing the core of a network is no small feat--especially if it's working and suits an organization's needs. "The 6500 is a great example of a product that is stable and working," he says.

Cisco began pointing its Catalyst 6500 customers toward its Nexus line last fall, unveiling new components for its Nexus 7000 series of core chassis switches and boosting the top-line Nexus 7018 chassis to 15 Tbps of aggregate bandwidth. The new Fabric-2 fabric module and the F2 line card enables enterprises to double the power of a Nexus chassis.

Meanwhile, Cisco is introducing higher-capacity switches to meet network demands for cloud computing, wider use of video, the increased use of mobile devices and more data traveling on those networks. As reported back in February, Cisco added new switches with 40-Gbit and 100-Gbit Ethernet (GbE) capabilities, which are the coming new standards for switching speeds on networks. The 100-GbE capacity is now available on the Nexus 7000 line for data center and service provider networks, while the 40-GbE capacity is available on the Catalyst 6500 switching line for campus networks.

Cisco's website offers a complete list of end-of-life and end-of-sale notices for the Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Switches.