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New SD-WAN-Infused Cisco Catalyst Line Targets Edge, 5G Use Cases

The Cisco Catalyst 8000 Edge Series, which represents a broad portfolio update, offers a ‘massive refresh opportunity’ for channel partners, Cisco tells CRN.

Cisco Systems has unveiled a new Catalyst line that addresses the requirements of today‘s complicated networking environment, including edge application support, evolving SD-WAN needs, and multi-cloud architectures.

The brand-new Cisco Catalyst 8000 product line is a refresh to Cisco’s Integrated Services Routers (ISR) and Aggregation Service Routers (ASR). The 8000 Edge Series portfolio includes the Catalyst 8500 Series Edge Platform, the Catalyst 8300 Series Edge Platform, Catalyst 8000V Edge Software, and the Catalyst Cellular Gateway series.

All 8000 products are available via a flexible subscription-based offer through channel partners, Cisco executives told CRN.

[Related: New Cisco Webex Features Promote Productive Remote Meetings, Safe Return To The Conference Room ]

“This portfolio addresses the edge requirements of today, while at the same time, provides the flexibility to tackle the challenges of tomorrow,” said Archana Khetan, senior director, product management, enterprise routing and SD-WAN infrastructure for Cisco‘s Intent Based Networking Group.

The high-end Catalyst 8500 Series Edge option is a good fit for large-scale data center or colocation sites with integrated 40G and 100G Ethernet ports in a single rack unit. The 8500 is powered by Cisco’s proprietary ASIC for high-performance, scale, and integrated security.

The Catalyst 8300 Series Edge Platforms have been designed with connectivity at branch sites in mind and offers a variety of connectivity choices for customers as their business requirements change. The 8300 also provides up to four times better SD-WAN performance than the current Cisco ISRs, Khetan said.

Lastly, the Catalyst 8000V Edge Software provides the same capabilities as the 8500 and 8300, just in a software format. It can be deployed in a cloud environment, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform -- or virtualized on a platform, Khetan said.

Cisco's Catalyst 8000 line addresses a gap within Cisco‘s existing ASR and ISR product portfolio, said Vinu Thomas, CTO for New York City-based Presidio, a Cisco Gold Partner.

“[The ASR and ISR] routers were built for a previous generation, Thomas said. ”If you look today, data, applications, and users are distributed around edge, enterprise private cloud and public cloud with a big requirement around seamless networking, security and management, so it‘s a very different world. Until now, Cisco hasn’t really refreshed their router line from the ground-up for the SD-WAN and multi-cloud environment. I think it’s a great innovation that has been purpose-built for the new networking world we’re in.”

The 8000 series product line gives Cisco partners an upgrade path for their ISR and ASR routers. And because SD-WAN is the core fabric that ties together the new 8000 product line, partners will be able to unlock new markets and further differentiate themselves, said Craig Ginsberg, SD-WAN strategy lead, Global Partner Organization for Cisco.

The combination of an all-in-one software solution and a platform that pairs SD-WAN with security, in the cloud or on-premise, improves partner profit, Ginsberg said. “It‘s a massive refresh opportunity for our partners,” he said.

Cisco is working hard to help partners expand their portfolio of available services, such as managed SD-WAN, network assessments, and integration services, Ginsberg added. “We‘re very excited about the value we think [these offerings] bring to our partners,” he said.

The Catalyst Cellular Gateway series, a competitor to Cradlepoint, is a new line of small devices that can give customers a simple way to connect to 4G LTE and, soon, 5G networks, without changing their existing infrastructure, Khetan said. The product is compatible with the new Catalyst 8000 Edge devices, and its backwards-compatible with existing Cisco ISR and ASR router platforms. It‘s also compatible with non-Cisco routers.

The Catalyst Cellular Gateways can be used as a cellular a back-up option or a primary SD-WAN link for locations without wired connectivity. Cisco said that the same SD-WAN management console used to control the Catalyst 8000 product line also runs the Catalyst Cellular Gateway line.

“These devices are essentially paving the way for high-speed cellular connectivity,” she said. ”Flexibility is key, and that‘s what we are targeting with the cellular gateways.”

The latest Catalyst Cellular Gateway joins Cisco's Meraki gateway MG21 option the tech giant first revealed during last year‘s Partner Summit.

The Cisco Catalyst 8500 and 8300 series and Cisco Cellular Catalyst Gateways are available now, Cisco said. The Cisco Catalyst 8000v is slated for availability in December.

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