LAS VEGAS- Cisco Systems Inc. announced a refresh to its Catalyst 6500 series switches on July 12, the company’s first major announcement during its customer conference here, Cisco Live.
Over the past 24 months, the company has refreshed its entire routing and switching portfolio, with the 6500 marking the last update to the line. The Catalyst 6500 has more than 25,000 customers worldwide, according to Cisco.
“We’re taking some of our mainstay products into the next generation,” said John McCool, head of Cisco’s data center, switching and services group. “We reject this notion of good enough networks,” he said.
The most significant change is the introduction of the Supervisor Engine 2T. The two terabit card allows for 80 gigabits per second per slot that can increase speed by three times to two terabits per second. This allows the Catalyst 6500 to support up to 100,000 mobile devices. The refresh also includes new 10 gigabit Ethernet line cards.
The company has also made more than 200 changes to its IOS software and upgraded firewalls to allow for better security. All of the new line cards and Supervisor 2T are compatible with existing Cisco E-series chassis models, according to the company, allowing for an easier migration for customers.
The Catalyst 6500 line already has a strong install base worldwide, with 700,000 systems deployed, valued at $42 billion, so allowing for an easy upgrade path was a priority for Cisco, said Scott Gainey, the company’s director director of switching solutions. The company will also continue investing heavily in research on its networking products. “We have no intentions of taking our foot off the accelerator,” Gainey said.
For channel partners, allowing customers to protect their existing investment is key to this update, according to McCool. Making the change to the Supervisor Engine 2T, for example, would cost $38,000, compared to more than $100,000 required for a comparable solution from HP, he argued. “The competition really needs to be on notice here,” he said.
The Supervisor 2T also includes technology to transition to IPv6, a major differentiator for partners, according to the company. For customers making video a priority, this is significant, the company said. Cisco asserts that by 2014, 91 per cent of all Internet traffic will be video content, a point made several times by several executives during its event, including CEO John Chambers during his keynote address.
This easier path to IPv6 is a major opportunity for partners, according to said Wenceslao Lada, vice-president of borderless networks for Cisco’s Worldwide Partner Organization. Retaining existing customers is a focus here, which is something Cisco has been trying to help its partners with through its Installed Base Lifecycle Management initiative as well, Lada said. This means that partners can evolve into trusted business consultants, not just resellers of the technology, he said.
Partners don’t require any additional training or certification and can help their customers capitalize on the investments they’ve made for the next 10 years, Lada said. “That is something that our competitors cannot provide.”
Cisco Live continues until July 14.