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Cisco SVP John McCool on Future of Catalyst 6500

October 5, 2009 - 1 Comment

“The report of my death was an exaggeration”

–      Mark Twain

Nothing beats going directly to the source if you want correct information.  In 1897, The New York Journal confused news of the illness of Twain’s cousin, James Ross Clemens, into that of Twain’s death. This led to Twain’s famous quote above.  Twain would live another thirteen years out of spite.

This leads me – oddly enough – to the Cisco Catalyst 6500 series switches and the Cisco Nexus series switches. When Cisco announced the Nexus series, the rumor mill began churning about the imminent death of the Catalyst 6500. How could one company support two high-end switches? Even a company as big as Cisco?  It defied conventional wisdom.

Maybe so, but it is now more than 18 months after the launch of the Cisco Nexus 7000 series switch, and both product lines continue to thrive.

Like Twain did, let’s go directly to the source to clear up any confusion. John McCool is the Cisco Senior Vice President/General Manager for the Data Center, Switching and Services Group. He owns both products, so if anyone knows the truth about the strategy, it would be him. John recently did an interview where he clarifies the roles that can be played by both switches:


Like Twain, will the Cisco Catalyst 6500 series switch continue to thrive a further thirteen years beyond the initial speculation on the report of its death? Thirteen years is a long time in the networking industry, but I wouldn’t bet against it.

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  1. Since the date of this post, 1.5 years have passed. Hardware development for the 6500 has seemingly come to a stop. Cisco has not articulated a clear vision for their one-time flagship platform, the 6500. Customers are being told to move the 6500 out to the edge, and move to the Nexus platform in core deployments. The information that is out there about the next generation hardware for the 6500 is sketchy, and what has leaked out is pretty ugly - you'll have to replace most if not all of your line cards to leverage the next generation supervisor, as existing modules will be incompatible. It seemed like a bit of a story then in October of 2009, and seems like even more of one now.