Today, Cisco announced the Catalyst 9000 family. The first new Catalyst line in many years focused on campus networking as a unified network involving security, WLAN, and switching. This is a very big announcement for Cisco as it’s a real step towards Unified Access and not thinking of WLAN as simply an overlay network. To keep the blog short, we will focus on just a few highlights here.
New hardware – the 9300 fixed switches are the next generation 3850s which were the revenue work horse for Cisco on the campus side. The 9400 is a modular access switch, currently more focused on user connectivity then campus aggregation and core. Finally, the 9500, a Fixed form factor aggregation and core box. The 9300 supports multigig with no fast Ethernet. We suspect a modular core is likely in the works as well and future generations will shift the uplinks from 10/40G to 25/100G.
New software – This is really about a security in networking and intent based policy. In other words, these switches take less human hours to administer, allowing more things to be connected to the network and the human to scale. Software Defined should allow these new switches to scale with the IOT device onslaught that many enterprises are about to go through.
New ASICs – As we all know, I’m a fan of ASICs, Cisco’s new in-house ASICs take many design ideas from Cisco’s DC ASIC family. They allow for some pretty cool security features that will allow Cisco to differentiate from the competition.
New Subscription Model – This does not come as a surprise, but a big component of the new offering is a subscription model. We see 3,5, and 7 year options listed on the website and believe this aligns well with Cisco’s push more towards recurring revenue. Given the availability of these switches, this is a 2018 event for the market.
New upgrade cycle – the combined hardware software approach will allow Cisco to touch its entire installed base to upgrade them. This is a big benefit to Cisco as over the past few years this installed base lacked a compelling reason to upgrade. This has caused the age of the installed base to creep up recently.
Today Nokia announced its new FP4 ASIC and 7750 SR Router. Playing the leapfrogging game on speeds, we saw 36 400 Gbs ports in a 2RU box that looks awfully similar to a spine switch and the further blurring of what a next gen router and switch really look like, especially in the Cloud.
We heard continued confusion over winning Cloud scale accounts. We note that a customer like Apple buys from multiple vendors and for multiple reasons. What Apple builds for their own consumption is not what they will deploy in a telco provider or peering location.
The debate between merchant silicon and custom ASICs continues to come up. While we are slightly in favor of merchant silicon, we note that the Cloud providers do not fear custom ASICs, they merely want to have standard APIs to control that equipment.
We note the Nokia ports are DDQSFP and not OSFP so we do not have a clear answer on form factor either. We now wait for the next product announcement with the only clear answer that we are in a phase of rapid innovation in order to keep up with the network traffic demands of the Cloud.
Today Broadcom announced Trident 3. The companies third major release of a chip that drove the merchant silicon revolution in the data center and started the white box movie in the Cloud. With Trident 3, all of Broadcom’s data center switching ASICs now support speeds of at least 3.2 Tbps per chip.
Trident 3 is impressive, but a few things about it really caught my eye. First, Trident 3 will offer five different skus, two of which are really focused on campus switching. One could see a 48-port 2.5 Gbps switch out of the X3 version of Trident 3 next year. We believe the Trident family moving into the campus will be significant for the industry once products begin to ship.
Second, native 25 Gbps ports. Trident is the most popular of Broadcom’s ASICs, especially in the enterprise, and with Trident 3, we expect the market to quickly move away from 10 Gbps/40 Gbps products and towards 25 Gbps/100 Gbps products. This product aligns well with our forecasts for this transition which we are excited to be publishing shortly. We still don’t see a bandwidth need in most enterprises for 25 Gbps, but the ability to future proof at the customer level and the ability to consolidate skus at a vendor level will make this compelling.
Third, we see a potential for both switch vendors and customers to benefit from one family of ASICs from the campus all the way to the data center. While it is too early to know the impact of this right after the announcement, we look forward to conducting interviews over the next few months to define this impact.