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Network World - NEW YORK -- As Cisco wraps up migrating its Catalyst 6500 installed base to either the E-series chassis or the Nexus platform, the company has plenty on tap next year for the venerable core switch.
Cisco’s working on some new ASICs for the entire Catalyst line that will enhance programmability, service richness and wire-speed performance, said Rob Soderbery, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Enterprise Networking Group. Soderbery, who met with Network World during the Interop New York trade show this week, heads up Cisco’s $18 billion enterprise networking business.
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Cisco is also plans to scale the Catalyst 6500 backplane beyond its current 80Gbps per slot to support features like 100G Ethernet, Soderbery said. Cisco is also going to add some of the data center and network virtualization capabilities now found on the Nexus platforms to the Catalyst 6500 – features like FabricPath/TRILL multiple active Ethernet paths, FEX fabric extension, and Locator/Identifier Separation Protocol (LISP).
The company also plans on improving the size and form factor of the Catalyst 6500, where smaller boxes would have the same performance as a full, 13-slot chassis, Soderbery said.
“We have a vibrant roadmap for the Cat 6k,” he said. “So we’re going to be aggressive about pushing the 6k forward, optimizing around campus aggregation and core.”
Features like 100G Ethernet and scaling down the footprint of the high-end, 13-slot Catalyst 6513 are “obvious” ehancements, Soderbery said. But some, like adding Nexus data center fabric and virtualization features, may not be.
Cisco is in the latter stages of migrating its legacy Catalyst 6500 base to the E-series platforms with the new Sup 2T supervisor engine for campus networking, and to the Nexus switches in the data center. Of the 750,000 Catalyst 6500 chassis installed worldwide, the split between campus and data center deployment is roughly 50:50, Soderbery said, and 15% -- or 112,000 – still need to move onto the E-series platforms.
The Sup2T migration is the fastest supervisor engine migration in the history for the Catalyst 6500, Soderbery said. Cisco has shipped 16,000 Sup2T’s to over 2,600 customers, and is on track to a $1 billion business in its current fiscal year, which ends in late July of 2013.
Whether in the data center or the campus, Soderbery says the “end state” for those deployments is managing those networks as fabrics. That’s why current data center-focused features like FabricPath, TRILL and FEX may find a home on the Catalyst 6500 campus core.
“We will be releasing over the next 12-18 months new innovations in the Cat 6k encompassing those technologies,” he said. “For campus use cases, we’re going to be focusing on continuing to invest in the Cat 6k.”
Getting LISP onto the Catalyst 6500 is a priority, Soderbery said. LISP, which separates an IP address location from its identity, can be used to better support mobility and more flexible network designs in the campus, he said.