What is Cisco Instant Access?

Cisco Instant Access is a concept that was launched at Cisco Live Orlando last year. For those of you familiar with the Nexus product line, think Fabric Extender (FEX). The first customers are starting to implement this concept now. The whole point of Instant Access is explained with the picture below.

Cisco Instant Access1

To the left is the traditional network with multiple access switches located in closets, uplinked to the distribution layer or straight to the core in a collapsed core design. Every access switch is a point of management which needs configuration, software maintenance and feature compatibility with other access switches.

What platforms are supported?

Catalyst 6500 has always been the big daddy switch of enterprise networks. With the Supervisor 2T and WS-X6904-40G-2T line card, the Catalyst 6500 now runs Instant Access. Note that the Catalyst 6500 must run in VSS mode even if you only have one switch deployed.

Cisco Instant Access2

It is also supported on the new platforms Catalyst 6880-X and Catalyst 6807-XL which were created to respond to new demands from customers that want to stay with the Catalyst 6500 platform. These switches have full feature parity with the Catalyst 6500.

Cisco Instant Access7

What are the benefits?

With Cisco Instant Access there is one point of management, there is no need to configure each device individually as the access layer switches act as a remote line card.

Management of software is greatly simplified

Feature consistency, no need to check that all access switches support a certain feature In theory this can save up to 60% of the time needed to deploy an access switch. Another benefit is that existing cabling can be used.

Also keep in mind that Instant Access can be deployed in parts of the networks, it’s not an all or nothing choice. This means the network can be upgraded over time instead of doing a forklift upgrade.

Why do I find it exciting?

With Instant Access I can deploy features at the edge of my network. Want to run MPLS on a port? No problem! Want to run a port as routed? No problem! Want to have a port in a VRF? No problem! Want to connect a switch to the 6800ia? No problem! This is the first time I’ve seen the remote line card concept with full feature support.  In this way we can build our networks in more efficient ways, deploying features at the edge of our network and spend less time managing and supporting the infrastructure.

To learn more about Cisco Instant Access view this video.

How will YOU build your network with Instant Access? What will you do with the time you now have over?


Daniel Dib

Network Consultant

Guest Blogger