Cisco Powers Up Catalyst Switch Line


Networks originally built to support data transport are evolving to run interactive communications like video, which requires increased capabilities around Power over Ethernet (PoE), 10-Gigabit Ethernet and improved uptime, said Fred Weiller, director of switching product marketing for network systems solutions at Cisco, San Jose, Calif.

"The opportunity here for channel partners is the evolution from data-oriented networking to realtime, interactive-oriented networking," Weiller said.

The proliferation of networked devices such as IP phones, wireless access points and IP video surveillance cameras is driving the need for more power density in Cisco's switches, said Ish Limkakeng, director of marketing for Cisco's desktop switching business unit.

To that end, Cisco is launching the Catalyst 3750-E and 3560-E Series switches, a line of Gigabit Ethernet wiring closet switches in 24- and 48-port versions that can provide full 15.4-watt PoE support on all ports or 420 full PoE ports in a stack of nine units. Previous models only supported full PoE support on a portion of the ports or partial power on all ports.

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The new switches support Cisco's new TwinGig Converter module, which plugs into the back of the switches to convert their Gigabit Ethernet uplinks to 10-Gigabit uplinks. They also are the first Cisco switches to come preloaded with full Cisco IOS (Internetwork Operating System) feature sets, enabling customers to turn on additional features without loading a new IOS image.

The new PoE capabilities on the 3750-E and 3560-E will help reduce the number of switches that customers need to deploy to provide proper power, said Mike Saulter, senior network consultant at Evolve Technology Group, a solution provider based in Rockland, Calif.

"We've had customers put in multiple switches just to overcome the PoE issue," Saulter said.

The new switches should prove particularly popular among Evolve Technology's government and public service customers, many of which are deploying solutions for video surveillance in public locales such as airports and government buildings as part of their homeland security efforts, Saulter said.

Cisco is also launching a new family of small form-factor switches, including the Catalyst 3560 and Catalyst 2960 Compact Switches, available with Fast Ethernet, Fast Ethernet plus PoE or Gigabit Ethernet configurations. Designed for small offices, small branch offices and classrooms, the new switches were built without fans to maintain quiet operation. They also include physical lockdown features for added security.

The new Compact Switch family will compete well against products from Hewlett-Packard's ProCurve Networking by HP lineup, particularly in the education market, according to Saulter. "It will do well with smaller agencies and school districts where they don't refresh [network technology] that often and they don't need all of the bells and whistles," he said.

Cisco is tackling power issues on its larger switches as well, launching the new 8700W Enhanced AC Power Supply for its Catalyst 6500 Series products. It provides PoE provisioning to enable full 15.4-watt PoE on up to 420 ports.

In addition, Cisco is showcasing features to improve uptime and operational efficiency. The Full Image In-Service Software Upgrade (ISSU) for its Catalyst 4500 line enables customers deploying two supervisor engines to upgrade the switch's operating system on one while the other maintains operation of the switch. That means solution providers don't have to take the switch out of service to maintain it, Weiller said.

Cisco, too, is launching the Redundant Power System (RPS) 2300 as a backup unit in case of an internal power supply failure.

The Catalyst 3560-E and 3750-E Series Switches are scheduled to ship in February, starting at $5,995 and $9,495, respectively. The 2960 and 3560 Compact Switches are available now, starting at $895 and $1,395. The 8700W Enhanced AC Power Supply of the Catalyst 6500 Series Switches is expected to ship in February for $7,000. The Catalyst 4500 Series ISSU is available now, priced at $5,000. The RPS 2300 will ship in February for $2,195.