The network at my workplace is getting really fast these days. I cannot believe that as soon as I hit “Download” to pull a 50 MB

Get to know the new Cisco Catalyst 3650 Switch
Get to know the new Cisco Catalyst 3650 Switch

video file from a server to my laptop, the browser immediately says “Download is complete.” Wait, isn’t that supposed to take a few minutes, or at least a few seconds? Wireless is also getting dramatically better. Not too long ago, wireless was “nice to have” and only as a secondary means of network support. Today everyone’s expectation is that “wireless has to work”. Whether I plug in to my wired docking station, or move to a conference room with wireless, everything just works equally well. Is that your experience, too? If not, the newly announced Catalyst 3650 switch will make that happen for you very soon. There’s much more to it, but supporting gigabit desktop and 802.11ac is just a simple example of how the Catalyst 3650 can dramatically enable high quality user experience.

Several years ago, Cisco anticipated rapid growth of high demand on the network and mobile device surge in the workplace that are taking place today. That is why Cisco designed and executed on a Unified Access strategy to bring wired and wireless networks together with superior performance and consistency. At the heart of the technology is the Cisco Unified Access Data Plane (UADP) ASIC that enables wired-wireless convergence right on the network edge, with the enforcement of necessary security and management policies.

Why is wired-wireless convergence so critical, you ask?

As you know, Ethernet (802.3) and wireless (802.11) frames actually do not mix. Most switches on the market today do not know what to do with the wireless frames. So they pack them up (with encapsulation) and send them off to a destination where 802.11 frames can be processed, even if this means a long, long path to a data center. You can imagine the added burden on your network, the extra delay it introduces, lost visibility and the inability to gain any controls or apply security while the wireless traffic is being transported across your network. Alternatively, you can choose to install a local wireless LAN controller near the access points (APs), but that will increase the equipment and maintenance costs to manage these local controllers. The Catalyst 3650 switch solves this dilemma by simplifying the wired and wireless networks. It does so by using the UADP ASIC to support both wired and wireless at the network edge with policy and management consistency.

So I’ve talked about the great wired and wireless user experience you can deliver with the Catalyst 3650, and I’ve explained how it does this with simplicity enabled by the Cisco UADP ASIC technology. But you may still have a question on your mind. Didn’t Cisco already have a switching platform that can do all these wonderful things already – the Catalyst 3850 switch? You are absolutely right! The Catalyst 3850 switch is a powerful platform to deliver Unified Access, using exactly the same Cisco UADP ASIC technology. Together, these switching platforms (Catalyst 3650/3850) are prime examples of Cisco’s differentiated switching solution approaches:

  • ASIC advantage that delivers the best silicon to our customers;
  • IOS software heritage and proven success in the wired networks and now extended to wireless;
  • Platform scalability and depth to give our customers choices to best fit their business needs.

On that last note, the Catalyst 3650 is very similar to the Catalyst 3850 with an overall simpler configuration: fixed 1G and 10G uplink modules (vs modular uplinks by 3850), 25 supported APs (vs 50 by 3850) and 160G optional stacking bandwidth (vs 480G by 3850). The simplicity of the Catalyst 3650 comes with an additional reward, too: it has a lower starting list price of $3400 (vs $5200 for 3850). So if you have locations such as remote branches, small offices or any places where the ultrahigh performance of the Catalyst 3850 is not required, the Catalyst 3650 will be a great choice for you.

Okay, let’s hear what our customers are saying – these are Cisco customers with their first-hand experience because they have already evaluated the new Catalyst 3650:

  • “At Human Kinetics, our mission is to produce innovative and informative products in all areas of physical activity that help people worldwide lead healthier, more active lives. The new Cisco Catalyst 3650 series switches provide unified wired and wireless access with rich features. The combined management platform has improved productivity and security.  This has allowed us to innovate in ways not previously possible and bring more value to our business and enhanced services to customers.” Brad Trankina, Director of IT, Human Kinetics
  • “We are committed to providing robust, scalable, and cost-effective IT systems and services for the students, faculty and staff of NC State University. The Cisco Catalyst 3650 Series Switches seem to have the potential for helping us further grow a resilient high-performance network that supports our strategic campus goals.”  Greg Sparks, Director, Communication Technologies, North Carolina State University
  • “Delivering a fast, scalable and secure campus network with high resiliency is a top priority for NC State to support our education and research requirements with more than 30,000 students and 8,000 faculty and staff across 200+ buildings.  Cisco Catalyst 3650 Series Switches can potentially help us build a campus network with intelligence, scalability and security to support our highly collaborative learning environment.” William Brockelsby, Lead Network Architect, Communication Technologies, North Carolina State University

I hope that the information here and the customer comments above provide good insight for you. We have an upcoming live webcast on the Cisco Catalyst 3650 and 3850 access switches on Oct 16th. Register for this event so that you can discuss your questions and feedback with our experts. See you there!


Steven Song

Business Manager