Cisco Catalyst Switches Review

DNA and SDN enable us to provide a full solution to our customers

What is our primary use case?

The use case will depend on the customer's requirements. Generally, if they want the access layer, the 2960 works pretty well. If they are in the SMB market, we go with the SZ series which is okay. If the primary use case is more on the PoE side, Catalyst switches give the most. And with respect to two-port, the 2960 is better.

How has it helped my organization?

With respect to the technology, when we talk about DNA and SDN as a whole concept, that is where, as a partner, our pitching point is, where we can show our edge to the customer. For example, if we are providing a switching solution, it's not just switching, it's a whole solution with DNA. That is where the whole concept of Network Management and Network Assurance comes in. So Catalyst plays a big role in putting everything together and providing a whole solution to the customer. 

Regarding security, with Stealthwatch, Catalyst switches play an important role as well.

When we talk to the customer, giving a full solution is important. From the switching to the network DNA to the security, I can deliver the whole thing with Cisco. That is how I position things when I go to the customer. We don't just go and talk about switches. We talk about the total solution that Cisco can give.

What is most valuable?

One good feature is UPOE. Another is having a built-in controller, the customer doesn't have to ask for another controller. For example, you get a built-in controller with the C650. And two-port is one of the premium factors from Cisco.

Something I like about the 2960-XR is that you get a lot of Layer 3 features.

What needs improvement?

One issue is that the competition is giving a lifetime warranty, whereas Cisco has a limited warranty on most of it.

Also, Dell switching is coming up with a solution where you can put your own OS inside their switching infra. That is where they are talking about open networking. We can show that our Cisco is also an open-source. We are open to different switching operating systems if the customer is willing to put it in. We can support multiple operating systems inside the switching infrastructure. It removes the hardware and software dependency on each other. That is where I think there is room for improvement so we can talk about open networking. Cisco should also come up with open networking access.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In terms of stability, Cisco is the premium solution in the market. It has a cost, but it gives you that stability. That is one thing Cisco has always delivered. That is without doubt, from my perspective and also from a customer perspective. They know that reliability and stability are prime features of Cisco.

How was the initial setup?

I really haven't found any issues with respect to delivering the solution. If you talk about security I would give you a different picture. But with respect to just Catalyst, there are no issues. It is totally straightforward.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Pricing is an issue I have been facing, in comparison with HPE or Juniper. The Nexus series is out of the question right now. Scalability is more an issue on the pricing side and less on the technology side.

What other advice do I have?

I will always tell you to go with Cisco Catalyst 9000 Series. That is the one to go with because you never know - any day, Cisco could make certain devices or certain components of a switch end-of-life. That is always a concern for our customers: "Are you giving me a product that is not end-of-life?. Will it not go end-of-life in the coming years? I need that assurance." I always tell customers to take a device that is very new so at least it's unlikely to go end-of-life in the near future.

So Catalyst 9000 is the one we are positioning because it has a lot of new features, plus it is new in the market. If a customer asks, "Should I go with 3850 or the 9000 Series, I will say that they should go with 9000 Series because the 3850 is an older version and costs almost the same. The 3850 has been on the market for a longer time. You never know when it will go end-of-life in the coming five years or seven years.

I would rate Catalyst at eight out of 10, from my experience. I have mentioned, above, a couple of things that Cisco can come up with, technically as well as commercially. All these aspects lead me to rate it an eight. Those technical and commercial differences mean we have to work hard.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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