Catalyst 3560-CX switch
Catalyst 3560-CX switch

You’ve had an older Cisco switch working its magic in your data center for year. While it’s still doing an admirable job, in order for your network to move forward, you know that you’re going to have to upgrade sooner rather than later.

But where do you begin the upgrading process? With so many switch options, how does a clear path from what you have now to what you need manifest itself? There are a bonanza of Cisco switches to choose from, what makes sense for your organization?

You don’t have to travel down this path blindly. Cisco has mapped out the options for upgrading your old equipment to new switches. And we’re not going to give you just one choice, the new switches fall into two categories:

  1. Lead Switch – is a best-in-class switch that has a high-end differentiated set of features in a given category. This switch has the most unique features compared to the competitors in its category.
  2. Base Switch – is an entry-level switch in its category and is also known as foundation switch. It has a lower price and a limited feature set, but it’s still a better option than our competitors.

Campus Access Switches Upgrade Path

When you’re discussing a Campus Access Switch, what you’re really talking about is a switch at the network edge that’s directly connected to end devices such as PCs, printers and other devices.

From Existing Switch To New Switch
Catalyst 2960-C, 3560-C Lead: Catalyst 3560-CX

Base: Catlayst 2960-CX

Catalyst 2900XL, 2948-G, any 2950, 2970, any non-X 2960 Lead: Catalyst 3650

Base: Catalyst 2960-X/XR

Catalyst 3500XL, any 3550, any 3560, any 3750 Lead: Catalyst 3850

Base: Catalyst 3650

Catalyst 4500 non-E, any Catalyst 4500 without Supervisor Engine 8-E or 7L-E Lead: Catalyst 4500E with Supervisor Engine 8-E

Base: Catalyst 4500E with Supervisor Engine 7L-E

Any Catalyst 6500 non-E or E in Access Lead: Catalyst 4500E with Supervisor Engine 8-E

Base: Catalyst 4500E with Supervisor Engine 7L-E, Catalyst Instant Access


Campus Backbone Switches Upgrade Path

A Campus Backbone switch refers to switches that reside in the middle of the network and normally connect aggregation switches.

From Existing Switch To New Switch
Catalyst 6500 non-E

Any Catalyst 6500-E without Supervisor Engine 2T

Any non-Catalyst 6500 Series like Catalyst 45xx, Catalyst 3750xx Fiber, Nexus Series, etc.

1/10/40 Gigabit Ethernet (Modular)

Lead: Catalyst 6807-XL

Base: Catalyst 6500-E with Supervisor Engine 2T

1/10/40 Gigabit Ethernet (Standalone <80 ports)

Lead: Catalyst 6880-X (semi-modular)

Base: Catalyst 4500-X

1/10 Gigabit Ethernet (Modular)

Lead: Catalyst 6500-E with Supervisor Engine 2T

Base: Catalyst 4500E with Supervisor Engine 8-E

1 Gigabit Ethernet (Standalone)

Lead: Catalyst 4500-X

Base: Catalyst 3850 Fiber


No matter which path you choose to upgrade your switches, know that Cisco has your back. Download a copy of the Upgrade Path poster here, and start mapping out your plan today.


Yan Ye

Business Development Manager

Enterprise Portfolio, Software, and Campus Switching