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Cisco’s Catalyst 6500: Ready to embrace the next wave of networking challenges

As Mark Twain supposedly wrote, ‘rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated’ – a phrase that certainly rings true for Cisco’s Catalyst 6500.

With a raft of new innovations recently announced at Cisco Live, competitors that were struggling to catch-up with the last iteration of this flagship switch have now seen their goalposts shift yet again.

The latest innovations provide Catalyst 6500 customers with the capability to evolve their network infrastructure for the coming decade’s  proliferation of connected devices, growth of video traffic, cloud computing business models and increasingly mobile workforces—without requiring “rip and replace” upgrades.

So, once again, Cisco continues to deliver business-enhancing innovation and investment protection for its customers – and with a platform that many had wrongly assumed was dead. Amongst the enhancements announced were:

-          Yet another ‘industry first’ with seamless IPv4 and IPv6 support from the switch’s hardware platform
-          New network virtualisation capabilities
-          A comprehensive set of L4-7 integrated services modules and new application performance and visibility monitoring through a revamped implementation of NetFlow.

The real key though is the introduction of the highly anticipated Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Supervisor Engine 2T, a 2-terabit card that unlocks 80 gigabits per second per slot, new feature-rich 10-gigabit and 10-Gigabit Ethernet line cards, and next-generation borderless services that provide customers with new mobility, security, network analysis and load balancing capabilities.

The new supervisor engine provides a threefold increase on throughput capability. It can also quadruple the number of devices or users that can connect to a network. For example, a single Catalyst 6500 can now support up to 10,000 mobile devices.

All new line cards and the 2 Tbps supervisor are compatible with all Cisco E-Series chassis models, offering minimal intervention to the existing Catalyst 6500 E-Series infrastructure. This compatibility prevents rip-and-replace upgrades that jeopardize a customer’s network uptime and require additional personnel, expenses and time.

The video below features Kumar Srikantan, Cisco’s VP of Marketing for the Scalable Networks Business Unit, as he talks about the latest updates to the Catalyst 6500, why Cisco and our customers are so excited about them and what it means for the broader industry.  Enjoy!

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Addressing the Service Provider Transition to IPv6: Carrier-Grade IPv6 Solution (Part 3 of 4)

The transition to IPv6 presents a complex technical challenge, and the business risks for not doing it right are potentially significant, in terms of impact on customer retention and growth, new business models, and competitive edge.

In this third installation of the series, Kelly Ahuja of Cisco and Ray Mota of ACG focus on Service Provider strategies for the transition to IPv6. As Kelly mentions, the Cisco Carrier-Grade IPv6 Solution (CGv6) is designed to help address both technical and business challenges associated with the transition. The Cisco CGv6 portfolio of IPv6 solutions enables service providers to:

  • Preserve investments in IPv4 infrastructure, assets, and delivery models
  • Prepare for the smooth, incremental transition to IPv6 services that are interoperable with IPv4
  • Prosper through accelerated subscriber, device, and service growth that are enabled by the efficiencies that IPv6 can deliver

It’s important to emphasize the word solution. CGv6 solution is not just a line card, or a network appliance, or a software feature. Unlike other companies Cisco has the experience and expertise to help network operators realize the promise of IPv6 by offering full Life Cycle Services Support. This is especially important as not all operators have experience in IPv6 or access to this expertise. Cisco can provide the people, processes and tools to ensure a seamless transition. Some of the capabilities our advanced services team provides include:

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Texas Lone Star Network Deploys the ASR 9000 for State-wide Services

Although well known for oil and cattle, Texas is home to many high technology companies (including the Cisco campus of yours truly), and is the largest clean energy (wind) producer in the USA. It’s also got a booming economy that needs advanced telecommunications services to all parts of the state. 

TLSN connects Cisco ASR 9000 Series routers with 10G optical wavelengths enabled in the Cisco DWDM backbone network

To that point, we recently talked with the team at Texas Lone Star Network (TLSN). Located just 50 miles northwest of  the capital of Austin, TLSN operates a Cisco DWDM fiber network spanning over 3000 route miles offering wavelength, Ethernet, and SONET services to its 39 consortium company members, national carriers, wireless carriers, regional cable TV operators, colleges and the federal government. Earlier in the year they made the decision to upgrade their network with a deployment of Cisco’s ASR 9000 Series routers.

TLSN has connected the new ASR 9000 routers with 10G optical wavelengths enabled in the Cisco DWDM backbone network. The enhanced network provides them the foundation for new, revenue generating services, including cloud computing, cell backhaul, and IP/MPLS virtual private networks. In particular, cell backhaul is expected to be a growth area because of the number of 4G deployments going on in Texas right now.

“With the rapid growth in customer demand for higher capacity , driven especially by video, mobile, and high speed data services, we had to scale our network, but we had to also watch our operational expenses. Leveraging our new Carrier Ethernet platform we’re able to offer new services cost effectively to our member companies and customers  to ensure that technologies such as telemedicine and distance learning are available to any community in the state. Plus, with our Texas-wide footprint we can offer both a wide range of highly available services coupled with a unique footprint that other providers can’t match.”
Brad Seymour, General Manager, TLSN

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Cisco.com users on World IPv6 Day 5 to 10 times more likely to use IPv6 than visitors to other websites

While looking over our data from World IPv6 Day, we found that 2.26% of all users who logged in with a username and password to www.cisco.com on June 8 did so over IPv6. That is nearly an order of magnitude greater than between the less than .2% and .3% averages reported by sites operated by more broadly visited websites such as Yahoo, Facebook, and Google. In contrast to those who logged in with their username and password, the total proportion of unique users who visited our site via IPv6 was estimated at just under 1.5%, which still represents at least a five times greater likelihood that a given cisco.com visitor reached us via IPv6 vs. the broader population of Internet users.

This shouldn’t be surprising at all. The cisco.com user base is made up of networking and IT professionals that are likely more willing to go out of their way to obtain IPv6 connectivity than most users. We hope that you will continue to use IPv6, show others how, and that we’ll have even more IPv6 users the next time we make www.cisco.com AAAA records available (see Fred Baker’s blog on what might be next).

In terms of overall traffic, our netflow statistics reported that 1.11% of traffic to and from www.cisco.com was served over IPv6. This traffic was delivered via an IPv6 to IPv4 load-balancing proxy function within our Application Control Engine (ACE) 30, allowing us to keep our existing production www.cisco.com virtually untouched while still providing an IPv6 web presence. On June 8, we used a pre-release version of code, alongside other Early Field Trial (EFT) customers. Matthew Laslie, Network Engineer and Architect at Savvis writes:

“Savvis was looking to provide IPv6 reachability to our primary websites without performing major modifications to our backend application/security infrastructure.  After evaluating several solutions, Savvis selected the Cisco ACE.  In the span of two short days the ACE was fully installed, configured and providing IPv6 reachability for several Savvis corporate websites.”

In addition to the participants that officially signed up for World IPv6 Day, others moved ahead on June 8 without the formalities. Cisco EU IPv6 Deployment Council member and customer Strato let us know after World IPv6 Day that they are now announcing IPv6 AAAA records for over four million domain names. Wilhelm Boeddinghaus, Head of Networks at Strato writes:

“Our customers don’t ask us for IPv6, nor do they ask us for IPv4, they ask us for the Internet, and that’s what we give them. Today the Internet is more than IPv4. The working Internet provides both protocols.”

Those four million domain names represent the ability of the content side of the IPv6 Internet to move very rapidly to IPv6. The fact that they decided to leave IPv6 on after June 8 is testimony to the confidence they have in IPv6, and that it is the right thing for their customers. There were a number of other websites that opted to keep their AAAA IPv6 records active after the 24 hour test on June 8, including our own www.scansafe.com, which moved to IPv6 by announcing AAAA records on World IPv6 Day and continues to today.

Given the relatively high turnout of IPv6-enabled www.cisco.com users vs. the rest of the industry, we have yet another clear data point of the importance of IPv6 to our customers. With all the success around World IPv6 Day, it seems hard to fathom that this will be the only event of its kind and we are eagerly looking forward to participating in and helping our customers with the next “World IPv6″ event. Stay tuned…

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Addressing the Service Provider Transition to IPv6: An Industry Framework (Part 2 of 4)

One of the hot topics at Cisco Live 2011 last week was around the topic of IPv6 deployment and how to handling the exhaustion of IPv4 address space, both for Enterprise and Service Providers. Over fourteen sessions on the topic were covered, including such titles as How to Convince your Boss to Deploy IPv6, Cisco on Cisco: Making the Leap to IPv6, and IPv6 Planning, Deployment, and Operation Considerations. When it comes to IPv6 implementation, there is no “one size fits all” design, which is why the Cisco CGv6 solution is intended to preserve existing network infrastructure investments, prepare for the transition to IPv6, and enable companies to prosper in the new IPv6 environment.

In the second video of our series on the Service Provider Transition to IPv6 with Kelly Ahuja from Cisco and Roy Mota of ACG Communications, we hear perspectives from cable providers Comcast (USA) and Rogers (Canada) on how they are making the transformation to an IPv6 network. Or as John Brzozowski, Distinguished Engineer & Chief Architect for IPv6 at Comcast, notes “V6 matters to everybody…” that it’s an “…industry, internet community challenge that everyone has to face.”

One critical point that John makes is the need to make the transition seamless despite the huge number of moving parts in the network. This was a key reason for Cisco’s Carrier Grade Network Address Translation implementation, which provides the scale and performance required to offer a simple way to immediately deal with IPv4 address exhaustion issues. Equally important is that many customers aren’t expected to flash-cut over to IPv4. Instead, the transition time will likely take years to ensure that Internet end users are not adversely affected by the migration.

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