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Cisco Announces Massive Routing Platform Upgrade, SD-WAN Platform

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Cisco is rolling out its largest enterprise routing refresh in 10 years.

The vendor on Tuesday unveiled its Catalyst 8000 WAN Edge devices, as well as a new cellular gateway. The new devices provide an upgrade from the Cisco ISR and ASR routing solutions. They help enable SD-WAN, SASE and multicloud deployments.

“There’s an enormous amount of change happening in the industry, and with this announcement, we are not only addressing the pressing needs for the WAN edge today but also are giving customers the flexibility to tackle the challenges of the future,” said Archana Khetan, senior director of product management for enterprise routing and SD-WAN infrastructure in Cisco’s Intent Based Networking Group.

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Cisco’s Archana Khetan

Khetan said businesses face three key needs: secure and flexible connectivity on any transport and any service; a programmable network fabric that provides agile service creation and delivery; and reduced business and operational risk.

The Goods

The platform includes the Catalyst 8500 Series Edge Platforms, which fit best with data center and colocation deployments and emphasize performance and scale. The platform also includes the Catalyst 8300 Series Edge Platforms, which enable branch office deployments and emphasize flexibility.

“The 8300 is designed to be the industry’s most flexible and extensible platform, keeping in mind the diverse needs and connectivity needs of branch locations today and in the future,” Khetan said.

Third is the Catalyst 8000V Edge Software, which runs on any x86 VMware platform and integrates with AWS, Azure and Google Cloud.

Lastly, the portfolio features the Cisco Catalyst Cellular Gateway, which provides multigigabit wireless WAN. It allows customers to use cellular as a primary SD-WAN connectivity option as well as a backup option. The current gateway supports 4G LTE, and Khetan said future offerings will support 5G.

“The world is moving to cellular connectivity, and this gateway offers investment protection, the ability to work with any type of routing environment, as well as flexibility in terms of placement,” she said.

Benefits

Craig Ginsberg, SD-WAN strategy lead for Cisco’s global partner organization, said partners have already responded positively to the new platform. He said SD-WAN customers can enjoy broadened cloud integration options.

Ginsberg said the refresh allows partners to engage more deeply with customers and become “stickier” outside of the network infrastructure conversation.

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Cisco’s Craig Ginsberg

“For partners, they see this as an opportunity to go beyond a core infrastructure/router sale,” he said.

Ginsberg also noted the Cataylst 8000 family’s synergies with secure access service edge (SASE) architecture. The portfolio integrates with the cloud-native Cisco Umbrella security service. It’s a boon for customers, who typically want to buy SD-WAN and security together, according to Ginsberg.

Presidio chief technology officer Vinu Thomas praised the integration.

“That’s a very important innovation because customers are looking at the ability to control the entire security aspect using cloud-based security,” Thomas said.

Partner Perspective

Presidio is a Cisco Gold/Master partner. Thomas said the new platform reflects the WAN’s changing nature. Cisco offered the ISR, ASR and CSR platforms before the Catalyst 8000 family, but none of the latter specifically addressed a multicloud, distributed architecture.

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Presidio’s Vinu Thomas

“In legacy wide-area networks, you were connecting campus and branch to a data-center headquarters. Now those days are gone because apps, data and users are so distributed. So you have to change your fundamental concept of what a wide area network is,” Vinu said. “The wide area network is essentially connecting the entire distributed environment, and it needs to have the same kind of networking, the same kind of security, the same kind of management interface, regardless of where you connect.”

Thomas said deployment will occur as a multistep process. The final step would be placing the Catalyst 8500 inside the data center; however, Presidio will likely start with an “outside-in” approach.

“We think the first step is to start replacing those ISR routers at the periphery of the data center with probably the Catalyst 8300,” he said. “We will maybe have some locations like factories and retail locations which might be able to connect using the 8300 and also with the cellular gateway.”

Thomas said an advantage of the new series is its backward-compatibility.

“If you as a customer have made an investment in the ISR 4K modules, you will still use that module inside the Catalyst 8000,” he said.

Check out Cisco’s detailed blog about the Catalyst 8000 family and the Cisco routing refresh.

Earlier this year, Cisco announced an SD-WAN partnership with AT&T.


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