Cisco Catalyst Marries Wired, Wireless and SDN in One Switch

Cisco this week unveiled a new Catalyst switch and WLAN controller designed to converge wired and wireless networks and centralize management of both environments.

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Tue, January 29, 2013

Network WorldCisco this week unveiled a new Catalyst switch and WLAN controller designed to converge wired and wireless networks and centralize management of both environments.

The new switch is the Catalyst 3850 and the WLAN controller is the Cisco 5760. Both are based on a new Cisco programmable ASIC called the Unified Access Data Plane (UADP) that is designed to converge processing and termination of wired and wireless traffic into a single data plane, enable consistent services to be applied to both, and allow for deployment of software-defined networking services.

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Typically, wireless networks have been built as overlays to the wired network, resulting in two logical networks to manage and in disparate features and services. BYOD is exacerbating the situation, Cisco says, necessitating convergence of the two infrastructures.

With that, Cisco unwrapped the Catalyst 3850 Unified Access Switch with the UADP ASIC. The 3850 represents the next generations of Cisco's Catalyst 3000 series switches and a successor to the Catalyst 3750-X, says Rob Soderbery, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Enterprise Networking Group.

In addition to the UADP ASIC, the 3850 has a built-in 40G WLAN controller able to support 50 access points and 2,000 clients. It runs IOS-XE, and the UADP ASIC lets it deliver common and consistent network intelligence, with networkwide visibility and analytics and granular hierarchical quality of service across the wired-wireless infrastructure, Cisco says.

The 3850 has the same port densities as the 3750-X: 24 or 48 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet ports, and four Gigabit or two 10G Ethernet modular uplinks. But what differentiates the 3850 from the 3750-X is Power over Ethernet+ capabilities on every port. The 3850 can also be grouped in a four-switch stack to achieve 480Gbps of performance.

The 5760 WLAN controller appliance features 60Gbps performance, and support for up to 1,000 access points and 12,000 clients. It offers granular QoS, and Cisco's Application Visibility and Control management software and TrustSec security application are planned enhancements.

The new UADP ASIC lets the switch and controller support Cisco's onePK API architecture for software-defined networking. OnePK is a developer toolkit that allows applications to receive information from Cisco switches and routers and then program functionality back to the data planes of those switches and routers. It also allows administrators to rapidly roll out new features and functions to those switches and routers.

The UADP ASIC will be rolled into Cisco's entire Catalyst campus switching portfolio, including the Catalyst 6500 and 4500 lines, over time, Soderbery said.

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