Cisco debuts new edge service routers under Catalyst 8000 brand

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Cisco is offering three new router platforms, and a cellular gateway, under its Catalyst brand name for 5G, SD-WAN, IoT and edge use cases. (FierceWireless)

Cisco announced a major revamp of its routing portfolio with its Catalyst 8000 Edge family of products that were designed for multi-cloud, SD-WAN and SASE use cases, as well as the advent of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

In an interview with FierceTelecom, Archana Khetan, senior director of product management for Cisco’s enterprise routing division, said the new Catalyst 8000 family of routers, all of which use Cisco's IOS-XE OS, were designed to support the advance of 5G deployments, edge use cases, hybrid and multi-cloud adoption and IoT.

"As applications and workloads and services are becoming more distributed across this edge to cloud continuum, there's a need for an SD-WAN fabric that supports these more diverse and complex access requirements, while at the same time being equally agile and automated," Khetan said.

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Cisco said the new Catalyst 8000 Edge platform transforms the WAN edge, helping customers be more agile by delivering automated and secure connectivity to applications across cloud, data center and the edge. The new routers also give IT organizations the agility to change course and scale quickly along side the needs of their businesses. 

The Catalyst 8500 was built for data center, colocation, and aggregation use cases, and comes with integrated 40G and 100G Ethernet ports in a single-rack  form factor. It's powered by Cisco's third-generation Quantum Flow Processor silicon, which is a proprietary ASIC built for terabit level performances for fast packet switching at Layer 2 or Layer 3.  Catalyst 8500 is an upgrade from Cisco Aggregation Services Router (ASR) 1001 and HX/1002-HX routers.

Khetan said the Catalyst 8300, which can be deployed as a standard router or an SD-WAN appliance, was ideal edge deployments such as branch office locations or anywhere else that customers need modular access with different types of connectivity. Cisco Catalyst 8300 is upgrade from Cisco Integrated Services Router (ISR) 4400 routers.

The Catalyst 8300 is built on a multi-core x86 architecture that Khetan said provided five times more IPSec throughput versus Cisco's current generation of ISR devices, and a three to four times improvement in SD-WAN service performance. The connectivity options include more than 70 interface modules.

"People can run either containerized services or edge compute applications," she said. "This platform is designed with flexibility in mind, both in terms of interfaces and services. We have also added voice to our SD-WAN solution."

Also on the router front, Cisco announced its Catalyst 8000V Edge Software, which is a virtual router that can be deployed in either a cloud or on a virtualized platform for customers who may want to deploy it as a virtual network function (VNF.)

"In terms of what it's replacing, we do have a cloud router called CSR, and we also have a separate router for virtualized routing deployment," Khetan said. "So Catalyst 8000V is a combination of all of our virtualized router offerings. It's going to be supported on all the major cloud platforms such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, as well as GCP."

Cisco's new line of routers will compete against the usual suspects, which includes Huawei, Juniper Networks and ZTE, along with virtual routing vendors, such as Volta and 6WIND, as well as SD-WAN vendors including Versa Networks and VMware/VeloCloud.

"Cisco is in an extremely strong position at the branch, at the campus and the data center when you look at switching, routing, wireless and SD-WAN," said Lee Doyle, principal at Doyle Research.  "With this platform, it's moving to offers those capabilities more intelligently. You can have Wi-Fi or you can have 5G or SD-WAN. It's a Swiss Army knife in some regards."

Along side of the new Catalyst 8000 routers, Cisco also announced its Catalyst Cellular Gateway to help customers deploy wireless SD-WAN without making changes to their existing infrastructures. The gateway supports LTE up to category 18 speeds and will include a 5G version later this year.

The Catalyst 8500, 8300 and cellular gateway are currently available while the 8000v will be available in December.

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