Cisco Catalyst 9000 – Major Step forward in Campus switching

​Today, Cisco announced the Catalyst 9000 family.  The first new Catalyst line in many years focused on campus networking as a unified network involving security, WLAN, and switching.  This is a very big announcement for Cisco as it’s a real step towards Unified Access and not thinking of WLAN as simply an overlay network.  To keep the blog short, we will focus on just a few highlights here.

New hardware – the 9300 fixed switches are the next generation 3850s which were the revenue work horse for Cisco on the campus side.  The 9400 is a modular access switch, currently more focused on user connectivity then campus aggregation and core.  Finally, the 9500, a Fixed form factor aggregation and core box.  The 9300 supports multigig with no fast Ethernet.  We suspect a modular core is likely in the works as well and future generations will shift the uplinks from 10/40G to 25/100G.

New software – This is really about a security in networking and intent based policy.  In other words, these switches take less human hours to administer, allowing more things to be connected to the network and the human to scale.  Software Defined should allow these new switches to scale with the IOT device onslaught that many enterprises are about to go through.

New ASICs – As we all know, I’m a fan of ASICs, Cisco’s new in-house ASICs take many design ideas from Cisco’s DC ASIC family.  They allow for some pretty cool security features that will allow Cisco to differentiate from the competition.

New Subscription Model – This does not come as a surprise, but a big component of the new offering is a subscription model.  We see 3,5, and 7 year options listed on the website and believe this aligns well with Cisco’s push more towards recurring revenue.  Given the availability of these switches, this is a 2018 event for the market.

New upgrade cycle – the combined hardware software approach will allow Cisco to touch its entire installed base to upgrade them.  This is a big benefit to Cisco as over the past few years this installed base lacked a compelling reason to upgrade.  This has caused the age of the installed base to creep up recently.