Cisco Wednesday is unveiling new Ethernet access switches and enhanced routers designed to take on more of the jobs frequently handled by separate devices, such as those dedicated to handling video traffic or ensuring network security.
Cisco's latest offerings fit into its Borderless Networks strategy, a concept it introduced with its ISR branch routers last fall. Those routers, dubbed ISR G2, are optimized for video and virtual services, Cisco said at the time.
This week, Cisco extended video enablement among its Catalyst fixed configuration access Ethernet switches. Cisco also expanded the energy efficiency and security capabilities among some of its switches and routers.
"The days of the standalone appliance that sits alongside a network are over," says Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at the Yankee Group. "Much of this stuff should belong in a network device. The value proposition is that it's much easier to automate a lot of the process that goes into making those modifications" for video, power and security.
"The idea of Borderless Networks...gets away from the traditional idea that the network has to have a ‘hard' edge," says Steve Schuchart of Current Analysis.
Even so, both analysts say Cisco switching rival HP shouldn't be in any rush to try and match or exceed what Cisco's announced. The company will have its hands full closing the 3Com deal and digesting the company; after that, it can focus on what its customers demand in video, power and security support, they say.
As for Cisco customers, they may have a hard time comprehending and literally buying into the company's Borderless Networks scheme.
"Cisco's going to have to beat this drum awfully hard," Schuchart says. "Borderless Networks is not a thing customers are going to understand in five minutes. Cisco's going to have to do a lot of work to drill it down to specific cases for customers."
Some of the tangibles to this week's Borderless Networks launch are the new switches. The Catalyst 3750-X ($5,200) and 3560-X ($3,400) are stackable devices with embedded security, energy efficiency, video and mobility features.
Both switches support 24 or 48 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet ports, Power over Ethernet+ capabilities, four Gigabit or 2 10G Ethernet modular uplinks, and Cisco StackPower features for allowing switches in a stack to share a power supply. The 3750-X also supports Cisco StackWise Plus which enables nine switches to be grouped in a single logical unit with a 64Gbps interconnect.
The StackWise Plus interconnect cables create a bidirectional closed loop path that allocate packets between two logical counter-rotating paths so that if a switch or cable failure is detected, traffic is wrapped back around across the remaining path to maintain uptime.