Cisco Touts Borderless Networks With Revamped Switches

Jeffrey Burt is a senior editor for eWEEK and contributor to TechWeekEurope

Cisco unveiled a refreshed line of fixed Ethernet switches, new services and enhanced routers as part of its larger Borderless Networks strategy

Cisco on 17 March introduced the Catalyst 3750-X and 3560-X fixed-switching portfolio, and the Catalyst 2960-S switch. In addition, the company is unveiling new network services focusing on security and energy efficiency, as well as two new routers.

It said the move will bring greater security, energy efficiency and video capabilities to Cisco’s networking products and expand the Borderless Network initiative that the company unveiled in October 2009.

The strategy essentially calls for creating a network infrastructure that enables users to access the networks from anywhere with any device at any time, according to Robert Soderbery, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Ethernet Switching Technology Group.

“It’s moving from a device-centric view of the world to a user-centric view of the world,” Soderbery said in an interview in Cisco’s Boston offices.

The network is the key to that, he said. The key will be to take the jobs that normally have been on separate appliances – from wireless to security to video traffic – and put them directly into the network through the routers and switches, Soderbery said.

The latest news from Cisco illustrates the movement in that direction.

The company’s Catalyst 3750-X and 3560-X fixed switches offer 10 Gigabit Ethernet capabilities and full power over Ethernet (PoE) on all ports. The switches feature StackWise for high availability and, now, StackPower, which brings power resiliency to a stack of 3750-X switches. Through StackPower, power can be shared by a stack of four of the switches, so operations continue if particular power supplies fail.

“It optimises the power supply for the stack rather than for [individual] boxes,” Soderbery said.

The Catalyst 2960-S Series Switch offers many of the same features – including EnergyWise and FlexStack – for customers that want the high-performance but not all the services that the larger switches offer.

Included in the network services announcements was the enhancement of Cisco’s EnergyWise offering, which enables users to more easily control the power consumption of their PoE devices. Cisco is extending that power management capability to PCs and laptops, and also unveiled the EnergyWise software development kit (SDK), which will enable third parties to put EnergyWise support into their own products.

In addition, Cisco unveiled its TrustSec security solution, which enables businesses to put security policies in place for all of their access technologies, including wired, wireless and virtual private networks (VPNs). The service protects transactions on the network, enables for user authentication and ensures network access based on that identity.

Cisco is putting TrustSec into its Catalyst 3650 and 3750 product portfolio and announced that the new 3750-X and 3560-X also offer advanced encryption between the switch and client thanks to the implementation of the 802.1a/e standard.

In addition, Cisco’s new Medianet offerings are aimed at improving video traffic over the network.

Cisco also tripled the performance of its Integrated Services Router (ISR) G2, which was first introduced in October 2009 to handle such jobs as rich-media applications, virtualisation, energy efficiency and security. The ISR G2’s capabilities also now can be extended to remote businesses.

In addition, the company improved the security, unified communications and management capabilities of its Aggregation Services Router (ASR) 1000 Series by enabling it to deliver its services over the wide area network (WAN).

Cisco’s latest Borderless Network announcements come a week after the company rolled out its massive CRS-3 router, a high-capacity router that promises a capacity of as much as 322T bps and is aimed at handling the rapidly growing demand for network bandwidth, which is being driven by video traffic, according to Cisco officials.

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