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Cisco Catalyst 6500 Offers a 10 Year Lifecycle

August 26, 2010 - 2 Comments

Here at Cisco, we often blog about our latest networking innovations and how they impact our customers. In this post, we’ll discuss a Cisco product that’s had continued success for a decade and continues to revolutionize networking: our flagship switch series, the Catalyst 6500.


With more than 650,000 systems deployed worldwide, the Catalyst 6500 series offers the most flexible and complete networking platform ever in the industry.  From Fortune 500 companies to small commercial accounts spanning Datacenter, Core/Distribution, WAN and MetroEthernet environments, the Catalyst 6500 series delivers many rich services such as video, wireless, firewalling, and intrusion prevention, just to name a few.

From the very beginning, the Catalyst 6500 series delivered advanced switching capabilities to handle unique network challenges. As networking requirements changed, so did the platform. Because of the Catalyst 6500 series’ lasting ability to innovate and meet ever-changing customer needs, this platform has a proven 10-year lifecycle.

A Look Back at Catalyst 6500 Innovations

The Cisco Catalyst 6500 series has led the way in market transitions from 10/100 switching to 10/100/1000 to 10GE, and continues to push the envelope through the introduction of 10G-T based technology. The Catalyst 6500 is also the leading innovator in IPv6 and was the first platform to enable IPv6 large-scale in network services in Japan.

The Catalyst 6500 series paved the way for delivering video broadcasts and market data feeds in an Enterprise network through the use of superior multicast technologies, and stands as the most reliable and feature-rich platform in this arena. It is also a pioneer in integrated switch services, minimizing the need for multiple network devices and reducing the carbon footprint while offering rich services such as network analysis, intrusion prevention, wireless, firewalling, and load-balancing.

Over the past decade, data center and campus network designs have been transformed by the Catalyst 6500 series through the introduction of Cisco’s Virtual Switching System (VSS), a virtual switching technology which radically simplifies operations, minimizes downtime, and maximizes the use of available bandwidth.

A Customer’s 10 Year Journey

One early adopter, a large financial services institution deployed the Catalyst 6500 platform in their metropolitan area network (MAN) in 1999. Since that time, the Catalyst 6500 has provided end-to-end networking from access to core/distribution to the WAN. The network has been stable and has evolved through advanced feature upgrades through the years.

Ten years later, the Catalyst 6500 continues to be the key network platform for this billion-dollar financial services company. Even under extremely demanding situations, such as high traffic spikes on the trading floor, the Catalyst 6500 has consistently performed and the customer’s network has never been compromised while deploying upgrades.

Looking Ahead

The Catalyst 6500 will continue to introduce new innovations as part of the Borderless Networks architecture. These new innovations will reinforce the platform’s stability and innovation and help deliver on the promise of unprecedented investment protection for another ten years.

We’d love to hear your network success stories about the Catalyst 6500.  How long has it been deployed in your network?  You can share stories by commenting on this blog or by posting on Borderless Networks Facebook page wall.



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  1. Hi Evan,Today we support 2 operating systems–Native IOS and also Modular IOS in our latest 12.2(33)SXI4a release. CatOS is an older operating system which stopped shipping in April 2008. Older generation Catalyst 6500s (Sup1/Sup2) are on CatOS. But majority of Sup720 and VSS720-10GE deployments are IOS and modular IOS based. IOS has the functionality of the switch processor and route processor combined into one software image for easier operational deployment. Thanks,Kumar

  2. Hi Kumar,The 6500 currently supports three operating systems CatOS, Native Ios.Is it true?