Call it the tenth life of the Catalyst 6500: The Cisco Systems Inc. switch that you thought would never die has now got a successor.
Enter the Catalyst 6800 family, being launched Monday afternoon at Cisco Live!, the company's customer event being held in Orlando, Fla., this week.
The 6500 has been around since the dawn of time, or since before 2000, anyway. Through the years, Cisco has kept boosting capacity and adding features, including entire line cards for functions beyond switching, such as firewalls and load balancing. Not all of those ideas have worked out in the long run. (See Cisco, Citrix Get Friendly to Fight F5 Networks.)
But the industry is finally creating needs that the 6500 can't meet, no matter what kinds of cards get stuffed in there. Primary among them is high-density 100Gbit/s support, says Pankaj Gupta, senior director of Cisco's enterprise business.
There won't be a 100Gbit/s port available for the 6800 at first, but it's on the way, Cisco officials say.
The largest 6800 chassis, the 6807-XL, includes seven slots with a theoretical capacity of 880Gbit/s each. Customers will only be able to use 240Gbit/s of that when the 6800 first starts shipping in November, but that still edges out the Catalyst 6500's capacity of 220Gbit/s per slot.
Of course, Cisco will continue shipping and supporting the 6500, considering there are so many of them out there -- Cisco counts 800,000, making for a $45 billion installed base.
Other enterprise announcements by Cisco on Monday include the ISR 4451-AX, the latest of Cisco's Integrated Service Routers, which is shipping now, and the ASR 1000-AX router for WAN aggregation, due to ship in July.
Starting in the first quarter of 2014, those two routers will be the first enterprise systems to add support Cisco's onePK API toolkit, meaning they'll be programmable via APIs. OnePK is the star of Cisco's software-defined networking (SDN) plans, and Cisco intends to spread onePK support throughout its enterprise switch and router lines.
Cisco's biggest news of the week might still be on the way. It's widely assumed that Insieme Networks Inc., the spin-in that's probably got something to do with software-defined networking and/or data-center switching, is getting launched this week. (See Cisco Goes on Offense With SDN and Cisco's Insieme Building Massively Scalable Switch.)
— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading