Cisco Swings for a Grand Slam

Networking giant Cisco this week announced its Operation Grand Slam set of updates to its Catalyst Switch and Integrated Services Router product lineups. The new releases include new power over Ethernet (PoE), power management and wireless capabilities.

Part of the networking refresh also addresses the need for full network capabilities in both fixed and modular network hardware equipment. The new hardware updates provide new capabilities to both fixed and modular platforms providing new deployment options for users.

“It’s about religion more than anything else,” Marie Hattar, vice president of network systems and security at Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) told “Some people are religious about having fixed configuration equipment and others want modular. At Cisco, we’re agnostic.”

Cisco’s Catalyst 4500 series is being updated to with the new Supervisor 6L-E which brings capabilities from the modular Catalyst 6500. Hattar explained that the supervisor is essentially the central module of the switch. The line cards on the switch have all the places where you plug in Ethernet cables and the supervisor determines how the switch interconnects and switches between then.

Hattar added that with the 6L-E on the Catalyst 4500 there is not a big gap in price point with the 6500, so user deployment is just a question of fixed versus modular choice. Hattar did not provide specific pricing on the new 4500.

Cisco is also adding support for PoE Plus capabilities on the Catalyst 4500 which can provide up to 30 watts of power per port. Regular PoE can only provide up to 15 watts of power. Hattar noted that Cisco is seeing increasing demand from user for more power due to the increased power needs of some end point devices like wireless routers and VoIP phones.

In addition to offering more power to PoE ports, Cisco is also improving the power utilization of their hardware.

” When you go from AC to DC power you always lose at least 10 percent,” Hattar said.

She added that Cisco has designed the power supply for the Catalyst 4500 to deliver optimized performance to ensure peak efficiency.

Cisco is also adding redundant power supplies to its fixed chassis such that a user can do failover inside of the switch itself if need be. Hattar added that having redundant power supplies used to be a feature that only was offered in modular platforms from Cisco.

“Cisco used to position it that fixed was a certain platform and if you wanted to upgrade modular was where you rose up to,” Hattar said. “But we found from customers it was more of a religion on what they used. They believed that modular was key in the network core, but in the wiring closet it was based on preference.”

ISR improvements

In addition to improvements to it switching products Cisco is also making some incremental improvement to the entry level of Integrated Service Routers (ISR).

Cisco is improving its small business line of IRS routers with new VDSL2 access options. VDSL2 (Very High Speed Digital Subscriber Line 2) is a new broadband DSL technology offering faster access speeds. There is also a new router the Cisco 1861W which is a new addition to the Cisco 1860 ISR line. The 1861W adds 802.11g wireless support as well as voice, video and security capabilities.

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