John manages a highly demanding, resilient, secure large Airport network using MPLS/VPLS technologies on Cisco Catalyst® 6800 Series switches. Rapid business growth has led to enable stringent security, partner network integrations, and new guest services. This is the common Enterprise campus network product and virtualization technology transition trend we see globally as our Hospital, University, Financial, and more customer networks are constantly evolving to enable new mission-critical services for highly demanding business applications. IT organizations are aiming to redefine end-to-end network architecture supporting un-parallel scalable, proven, resilient, yet simplified solution.

The MP-BGP EVPN overlay network addresses several sets of challenges and drawbacks of existing technologies such as STP while providing the same network services with greater flexibility, mobility, multi-tenancy, scalability, and security.  The flexibility of the solution is the main driver for adoption in enterprise networks. Cisco Catalyst 9000 switching systems are empowered with feature-rich Cisco IOS® XE is next-generation purpose-built Ethernet switching systems supports BGP EVPN VXLAN fabric solution to transform next-generation Enterprise campus network virtualization requirements. 

Multi-protocol BGP EVPN overlay network
Fig #1: Multi-protocol BGP EVPN overlay network

The Drivers

Cisco Catalyst 9000 switches power up large scale BGP EVPN VXLAN fabric networks in global Enterprises as technology and business drivers demand IT organizations to accelerate adopting industry transitions, tighten multi-level network access control, optimize application performance in overlay networks, and more. Following are five common IT trends driving BGP EVPN VXLAN fabric networks in Enterprise networks:

  • Industry-standard: As overlay network spans across multiple Place-In-Networks (PINs), i.e., Campus, Datacenter, WAN, etc. the Enterprise customers define baseline requirement to follow end-to-end single industry-standard communication technology. In heterogeneous multi-vendor network environments, the overlay solution shall be interoperable supporting key Enterprise business and consumer applications across diverse fabrics.
  • One Fabric: Simplicity is key. Managing large scale virtualized overlay networks spanning a global Enterprise network environment may become complex and unmanageable with multiple parallel and contending technologies. The single BGP EVPN VXLAN fabric technology across all network PINs simplifies overall fabric network design architecture with end-to-end common designated roles and functions. The IT operations eliminate redundant efforts, reduce multiple learning-curve, and simplify to builds and manage their day-2 automation and troubleshooting tools with single fabric technology giving them the opportunity to flexibly expand network solutions.
  • Proven: Since the beginning of the internet evolution, the BGP protocol proves to be a highly scalable and flexible multi-protocol routing technology. Spanning over two decades, large-scale Enterprise networks have adopted and built in-house experienced IT staff to manage core infrastructure using BGP protocol. Customers like John have adopted MPLS/VPLS based overlay network solutions throughout the past decade gaining deep knowledge and experience in managing large mission-critical network infrastructure architecture. The Cisco IOS XE operating system offers simplified and modular BGP command-line structure seamlessly introducing the L2VPN address-family to existing deployments to insert EVPN technology transparently and gracefully in Enterprise Campus without forklift existing network design change that may disrupt business operation.
  • Hierarchical: The three-tier physical network design in large scale networks has been well-proven for multiple decades. The hierarchical and structured physical networking provides network expansion flexibility, reduced security, fault domains for mission-critical networks demanding non-stop business communication. The overlay virtualized network follows design principles with multi-domain fabric architecture. The BGP EVPN VXLAN fabric domain can be hierarchically designed to sub-divide overlay control, data plane, and overlay routing tables suppression. The Cisco Catalyst 9000 family and Cisco Nexus 9000 Series switches support advanced overlay hierarchical virtual networks capabilities giving simplified, structured, and scalable single end-to-end BGP EVPN VXLAN fabric architecture spanning across Enterprise Campus and Data Center networks. 
  • Flexible: The integrated routing and bridging capability in BGP EVPN VXLAN provide flexibility for IT organizations to converge multiple parallel classic overlay solutions to a single control plane. The overlay networks can be designed with flexible overlay network types supporting routing, bridging, or combined. Independent of the underlying infrastructure, each overlay-type can be tailored to build customized forwarding topologies supporting business requirements, reduce blast radius domain size, firewall service-chaining, and more. The network architect can leverage well-known BGP routing capabilities to manage MAC/IP routes to build – Full-mesh, Partial-mesh, Hub-n-spoke, or simple Point-to-Point overlay routing or bridging forwarding topologies. 

Cisco Catalyst 9000 family – The Enterprise Networking Pillars

Enterprise networking constantly evolves with ever-growing applications demanding best-in-class user experience, pervasive mobility, cloud transition, protecting networks with a Zero-trust model against rising cybersecurity threats, and more. The traditional Layer 2/3 networking model must transform to adapt such market transitions with Ethernet switching systems designed to support next-generation network architectures that can constantly learn, adapt, protect, and evolve. The users’ and operators’ experience in Enterprise networks are significantly elevated as their network transitions with next-generation Cisco Catalyst 9000 switching products. As Cisco Enterprise networking portfolio converged to single Cisco IOS XE operating systems enables 30+ years of software innovations across LAN Ethernet switch, Wireless LAN, and Routing the full-stack end-to-end infrastructure becomes modular, programmable, and ready to adapt evolutionary technologies such as BGP EVPN VXLAN.

The Cisco Catalyst 9000 family of switches supports Spine, Leaf, and Border roles to build an end-to-end BGP EVPN fabric. Depending on the product lifecycle the Enterprise customers can adopt the BGP EVPN VXLAN fabric solution in greenfield deployed or seamlessly integrate in existing production brownfield network environments. The BGP EVPN VXLAN provides flexible design alternatives for Spine and Leaf without major underlay network dependencies, such elasticity enables Enterprise customers to seamlessly integrate fabric solutions based on their preference.

Cisco Catalyst 9000 Switching Portfolio
Fig #2: Cisco Catalyst 9000 Switching Portfolio

Fabric Architecture for Digital Network Transformation 

The breadth of Catalyst switching portfolio powered with industry’s most matured and feature-rich networking operation system – Cisco IOS XE. The Enterprise networks seamlessly transform to next-generation BGP EVPN VXLAN fabric architecture combined with 30+ years of software innovations aligned with demanding Enterprise applications, mobility, security, and best-in-class resiliency. Since Cisco IOS XE 16.9.1 release BGP EVPN VXLAN software innovations have delivered non-stop solutions accelerating global Enterprise adoptions.

As we stay laser-focused to listen, execute and deliver world-class solutions to our valuable customers they are on their way to digital network transformation. And if you are ready, we are here to help – reach out to your Cisco sales team to start your BGP EVPN VXLAN journey.

Learn more about the

Cisco Catalyst 9000 Switch Family


Additional Resources:

Cisco IOS XE BGP EVPN VXLAN Software Guide

Automate BGP EVPN VXLAN using Ansible Playbook

Choosing the Best Overlay Routing Architecture for EVPN



Travis Jones

Systems Architect