Albert Einstein once said “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” Captured in that self-effacing comment is an insight that applies to the common lineage of Catalyst 6500 and Nexus 9500 switch product lines. Cisco’s continous focus is to solve customer prooblems through innovation while applying learnings during every step of the way.

The Catalyst 6500 is highly successful and the most widely deployed modular switch in the industry. It came ouf of Cisco’s first acquisition in 1993. The longevity of the platform is a testament to the importance Cisco places on providing our customers with the best technology and protecting their investments in us and our products.

Birth of Nexus 9500

The Nexus 9500 was created by the same team to address customer asks for an agile, high performance fabric foundation for modern software defined datacenters.In 2013 the team re-imagined a new modular switch for the 40G/100G/400G world while leveraging all the learnings and feedback from our Catalyst 6500 customers. When launched 5+ years back the Nexus 9500 incorporated multiple industry “firsts”:

Hardware Innovation – Revolutionary modular switch design

  • Nexus 9500 chassis has no midplane which optimizes power/cooling as well as provides significantly higher flexibility to support multiple generations of linecards and fabrics mdoules

Silicon Innovation – Cisco Cloudscale ASICs

  • Cisco Cloudscale ASICs pushed the limits on scale, performance, visibility and reliability.
  • Key Features:
    • Algorithm-based intelligent buffering: Dynamically solve real-world network congestion problems while minimizing network latency and optimizing cost.
    • Extensive data plane telemetry:Enable customers to correlate network health with actual real time data traffic to provide application service level insights.
    • Uncompromised security: Provide multiple encryption options at 10G/40G/100G line rate to secure links between adjacent data centers or links spanning the globe.

Software Innovation – Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and VXLAN fabrics

The Nexus 9000 product line is the foundation for the first Intent Based Data Center Network, although in 2013 the term didn’t exist yet. The name ACI points already to the vision of linking data and application intent to the automation and segmetation delivered by the infrastructure.

Nexus 9500 is also the first modular data center platform in the industry to support scalable VxLAN routing and BGP EVPN control plane designs.

Nexus 9500 is well suited for multiple deployment options and future proofs networks in many roles – aggregation, core, edge, spine and leaf. The platform is optimized for the modern data center and high density 40/100G density campus core designs.


Cisco Nexus 9500 helps customers successfully plan, deploy, and operate a data center-class network today by sharing expertise, experience, and best practices resulting from extensive solution-level lab testing, numerous real-world deployments, and partner engagements. Cisco enables customers to take a phased architectural approach to the attainment of a next-generation data center, by providing a coherent strategy, vision, and roadmap and delivering network products that are designed to be modular, extensible, and interoperable. By taking this approach customers can achieve investment protection and incremental value through their digital journey.

Happy fifth birthday Nexus 9500!



Thomas Scheibe

Vice President, Product Management

Cloud Networking