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In July, a team of our Cisco engineers were welcomed to fabulous Las Vegas to attend Cisco Live, their annual IT and communications conference. Here's just some of the latest news, giving an idea of what we can expect from Cisco in the coming months.
Cisco launched a new product, the Catalyst 3650 mini switch. With all the features of the regular sized Catalyst 3650, including Power over Ethernet (PoE) and POE+, this switch is a mini version and at only 11.62 inches in depth, is perfect for installing in small spaces and cabinets.
There are two versions of the new 3650 mini – 24 or 48 port, and of course, it will interconnect with all your existing Cisco Catalyst 3650 switches!
Cisco have added multigigabit and Universal Power over Ethernet (UPoE) to the existing 3650 family, allowing multiple speeds on switch ports and providing the capability to source up to 60W of power over standard Ethernet cabling infrastructure. They also have the option of fixed, built in uplink ports, either 8x10G Small Form-Factor Pluggable plus (SFP+) or 2x40G Quad Small Form-Factor Pluggable plus (QSFP+). This could be an excellent future proofing option.
Although there are currently no plans to integrate StackPower to the 3650 series, Cisco has doubled the number of Access Points (APs), allowing support for 50 in a converged access deployment, helping increase wireless productivity and allowing 1000 wireless clients, good news for growing businesses.
Cisco announced that plans are afoot to add Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) on the Catalyst 3850 series, giving greater quality of service, better security, quicker speeds as well as faster restoration of interrupted connections.
There is more good news on the horizon for the 3850 as Cisco plan to incorporate a Virtual Stacking Solution (VSS), allowing the 48 port 10G SFP+ to 'stack' with other 3850 models.
Cisco's Digital Ceiling was a hot topic, with rumours of a Cisco Catalyst Ceiling Switch which would connect building systems such as lights, heating and ventilation and enable these network powered building systems to be controlled by a smartphone app. Digital Ceiling has been successfully rolled out at Cisco's headquarters in San Jose, California, and may be arriving at a workplace near you soon...
Paving the way for 6Tbps of switching capacity, scaling up to 12 Tbps in VSS configuration, Cisco's Supervisor Engine 6T (Sup6T) was heavily promoted throughout the conference. Cisco is encouraging a migration to Sup6T on Cisco Catalyst 6500 and 6800 switches, offering high performance of up to 440 Gbps per slot switching capacity. This will provide exceptional network security with an enhanced control plane, supporting up to 2000 Instant Access ports in a centralised configuration.
A couple of caveats to note, however. If you currently use the 6500E chassis, switching capacity is limited to 80Gbps per slot with the Sup6T, and in addition, support is yet to emerge for the Centralised Forwarding Cards and Service Modules such as the Wireless, Network Analysis and Firewall Service Modules.
Cisco's newest innovation, Digital Network Architecture (DNA), takes an open, software driven approach, containing automation, analytics, virtualisation, security and managed services. DNA provides a digital network as a platform for digital business, and at the heart of it is the Application Policy Infrastructure Controller Enterprise Module (APIC-EM) – a software controller that supports a range of automation services and allows integration of features such as IWAN, Path Trace, Plug and Play, EasyQos, Naas/NaaE. This provides a software defined overlay on existing physical structure.
Most Cisco routers, switches and wireless systems support this architecture currently, or with a software upgrade delivered through Cisco ONE. In addition, a number of new features have also been added to an Evolved IOS XE to enable support for DNA. With over 11,000 Cisco customers already adopting DNA, we believe this could be a great solution for simplifying how customers can deploy, manage and consume the network.
- The new Cisco Defense Orchestrator was unveiled. A cloud based application which allows customers to easily and effectively manage policies distributed across thousands of devices consistently from one spot. It also allows you to create standard policy templates so you can deploy new devices faster. New deployments will automatically inherit updated policies; lower costs, fewer resources, fast set up – it's an easy win!
- Cisco's Meraki MX security appliance received security enhancements – Advanced Malware Protection (AMP), Threat Grid malware analysis and threat intelligence technology all work to increase security.
- As part of their Sourcefire acquisition in 2013, Cisco inherited Firepower, a next generation firewall, and they have recently released the Firepower 4100 and 9300 series. Both platforms run the Firepower eXtensible Operating System (FXOS), delivering multiple Cisco security settings, supporting FTD or ASA software on the integrated security engine on the 4100 or on the security module on the 9300.
Veeam Software, a provider of data protection technology of cloud and virtualised environments, announced that it had integrated its cutting edge technologies with Cisco Unified Computing Systems (UCS) to create 'Availability for the Always-On Enterprise'. The hardware and software combination improves the ability to quickly recover critical data in the event of an unexpected loss. It will be fully integrated, meaning faster deployment and therefore saving time and money. It is expected to become available later this year in the US, so keep your eyes open for it landing in the UK soon!
SwiftStack, an open-source object storage provider, has been a Cisco partner for some time. They have now unveiled a new technology partnership to deliver a solution enabling enterprises to build public cloud storage capabilities within on-site data centres. SwiftStack's new 4.0 open-source platform will integrate with Cisco systems such as Metapad OpenStack based software and Cisco UCS.
In June, Cisco announced a deal to buy CloudLock, a cloud based cyber security provider – its fourth security acquisition in the past 12 months. Watch this space as we're foreseeing some of CloudLock's best features integrated into Cisco's DNA in the near future.
Cisco's new partnership with bot building platforms API.ai and Gupshup was announced, allowing thousands of bots to be incorporated into the Cisco Spark and Tropo platforms. This will extend Cisco's reach to more than 10,000 API.ai developers and allow them to create advanced, omni-channel bots for responsive and intuitive experience within the Spark ecosystem. It also raises the bar for Skype and Slack, intensifying the competition between enterprise communication apps.
The introduction of a DNA National Readiness Model will help our partners and customers to navigate and adapt DNA. The model identifies the network readiness of a customer's environment to become a digital organisation, then builds a plan and recommended steps towards transforming their network.
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