How has it helped my organization?
It helped us have fewer physical interfaces by being able to share it with multiple virtual contacts. By doing that, we can have fewer devices and fewer physical interfaces, yet retain a more extensive logical setup. So it helps us to have a smaller footprint.
What is most valuable?
The most valuable feature of the 7700 series is probably that it lets you have multi-context, and also VPC setup, where you have two logical devices that are still separate in terms of management planes but have shared virtual port channels.
What needs improvement?
They should make sure that the back address auto is baselined. I think it might even be baselined, so it might be that one of our team members had messed that up, but it just wasn't a very straightforward command. You should have multi-context, multi-port channel enabled on the underlay of the Firepower. The way the Firepower firewalls work is they have a management plane, and then you make the virtual ASAs on the Firepower, where you're assigning multiple interfaces or core channels on there. have fewer devices and fewer physical interfaces, yet retain a more extensive logical setup.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It has been very stable so far.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
It has been very scalable, from what we've seen.
How are customer service and technical support?
The few times we have had to talk to technical support it's been pretty decent.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
The previous solution we used was the Catalyst 6506 series. We switched to 7706 at that time because it was pretty much comparable to that. It was either a 6506 or moving to a 6807, which was the Catalyst's next series for the next device. The difference between the Catalyst and the Nexus was that Catalyst was doing VSS, where you kind of had two physical switches acting as one logical switch. We had had some issues, especially with upgrades of VSS, so we were trying to avoid using VSS. The 7706 is just more stable than what the Nexus 9000 was at the time we were purchasing this. The Nexus 9000 wasn't fleshed out enough yet to use as the core, so it just made sense to go with the 7706 instead.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup was pretty complex, mostly because of our environment, having to do multi-context. That's where you have a lot of different logical routes that are in one physical device, and it can get kind of complex trying to think about how to set all that up. You really have to whiteboard it out a lot.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We talked with a lot of vendors, such as Juniper, FortiGate, and some of the other players. Cisco was our chosen solution, because of the level of support and familiarity we had. A lot of us trained in Cisco.
What other advice do I have?
When we were purchasing this, it was the best solution. Now, you might want to look at the Nexus 9000 solution, or maybe the Catalyst 9000 series. You might consider your environment and see what you need. Do you need personal contacts and device management? Or do you need devices acting as one switch for easy management? It just depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for more of the software-defined stuff, and this is going to be in your data center, or maybe you want ACIs, then you're obviously going to be looking at Nexus 9000 there. It just depends on your situation.
I would rate this solution as a nine or ten of ten.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.