News Release

Cisco's Flagship Switching Platform Scales to Enhance E-Commerce Networks

Enterprise and Service Providers to Benefit from Catalyst 6000 Family's Enhanced Performance, Scalability and Extended Intelligent Network Services
Sep 19, 2000

SAN JOSE, Calif., September 19, 2000 - Helping to move enterprise and service provider customers to the next generation of network build out and address the challenges of providing secure access to Web-enabled applications and content that creates dynamic traffic flows, Cisco Systems today announced a new portfolio of offerings for its flagship Catalyst 6000 family of switches.

Cisco's new switching enhancements are focused around three key areas; scalable performance, scalable control-plane functionality and advanced intelligent network services. To address customers' challenges Cisco is delivering a new architecture for the Catalyst 6000 family, numerous modules and a series of enhanced intelligent services. These include a new supervisor module, two new Gigabit Ethernet modules and a new switch fabric module which utilize Cisco Express Forward (CEF) technology to scale both packet forwarding and flows per second. Cisco is also integrating an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) module into the Catalyst 6000 family for secure access to applications and corporate information. Along with intelligent services addressing high availability and QoS this portfolio of system enhancements provides a comprehensive offering for customers' evolving e-commerce networks.

"Cisco clearly recognizes that their customers' traffic demands are changing at an exponential pace and as such the network infrastructure needs to evolve to meet these new dynamics. These new offerings truly solidify Cisco's ability to deliver converged, and scalable network solutions with the non-stop reliability and quality of service that large enterprises, ISPs, and carriers customers expect," said Joel Conover, Senior Analyst, Enterprise Infrastructure at Current Analysis market research firm.

Enterprises can take advantage of these new offerings to create secure business-to-business and business-to consumer e-commerce networks while simultaneously supporting a converged voice, video and data environment. Service provider hosting environments will benefit from the new offerings with the support for full Internet routing tables, increased QoS for supporting service level agreements and integrated server load balancing capabilities.

"As companies shift their business model to adopt e-commerce as a key element of their strategy, our objective is to deliver the most robust network infrastructure solutions that can enable this move," said Peter Alexander, vice president of marketing for Cisco's Enterprise Line of Business. "Cisco continues to evolve the Catalyst 6000 family with intelligent, highly available and scalable architectures to support these New World environments. Alternative switching products focus primarily on simple packet forwarding rates."

Catalyst 6000 Family Deploys Cisco Express Forwarding

The cornerstone of Cisco's new offerings is the integration of Cisco Express Forwarding (CEF) architecture within the Catalyst 6000 family of switches. Ideal for e-commerce environments, high end data centers in large enterprise or service provider networks, CEF evolved to accommodate the changing network dynamics and traffic characteristics resulting from increasing numbers of short duration flows typically associated with Web-based applications and interactive sessions.

The CEF-based architecture differs from traditional cache-based architectures which are traffic-driven and consume CPU cycles to maintain route caches. CEF utilizes a Forwarding Information Base (FIB) which mirrors the entire contents of the routing table, eliminating the need to maintain a route-cache, and enhancing forwarding performance across multiple flow connections. Distributing the forwarding intelligence onto the Catalyst 6000 family modules accelerates system performance to 100+ Mpps and further scales the CEF architecture across the platform.

Taking advantage of CEF is a new Supervisor Engine 2 and two new 16-port Gigabit Ethernet modules. Both Gigabit Ethernet modules support local forwarding and intelligent services. One targeted at data centers scales up to 15 Mpps local forwarding per module via a Distributed Forwarding Card daughter module which supports distributed CEF intelligent switching. The second module istargeted at service provider distribution nodes, scales to 24 Mpps local forwarding per module, supports distributed CEF and enables up to 112 non-blocking Gigabit Ethernet ports per system.

New to the Catalyst 6000 family is a Switching Fabric module that scales the overall switch capacity to 256 Gbps and is utilized by both the new Supervisor Engine 2 and the new Gigabit Ethernet modules enabling high-capacity distributed switching environments.

In all scenarios investment protection is provided to existing Catalyst customers as current modules and the new modules can operate in the same chassis allowing customers a phased migration approach to higher capabilities and functionality as their network demands grow.

Raising the Bar for Intelligent Services

In addition to new hardware components Cisco is also making available a variety of new intelligent network services in the area of high availability, security and QoS. These services provide overlay intelligence to the network for growing applications such as web hosting and IP telephony.

High availability enhancements include stateful failover and hitless software upgrades. Stateful failover mirrors the primary Supervisor Engine configuration on a redundant Supervisor Engine to include Layer 2 or Layer 3 states as well as QoS and security. Should a failure occur, stateful failover enables the redundant Supervisor Engine to recover in seconds without having to relearn Layer 2 or Layer 3 states. Hitless software upgrades enable upgrades to new software images while the switch remains active, eliminating the need to temporarily remove the switch from service.

Cisco is also delivering enhanced QoS services in the areas of increased traffic policing granularity and strict priority queueing. Excess rate policing mechanisms increase the level of differentiated services providing burst protection for applications and specific user traffic. Strict priority queues are provided per port for delay sensitive traffic such as voice or other high priority traffic.

In the area of security, a new integrated Intrusion Detection System (IDS) module on the Catalyst 6000 family protects network assets and revenue streams with real time security visibility, and denial-of-service (DoS) protection. The IDS module supports dynamic security tuning with features such as TCP session termination and automatic ACL configuration in the event a denial of service attack is detected. It also offers scalable traffic monitoring by load balancing across multiple modules and supports a full suite of over 300 attack signatures.

Pricing, Availability and Further Information

The following products are available in September and are priced as follows: The Switching Fabric module is $7,495, the Supervisor 2 module is $34, 995, the 16-port Gigabit Ethernet module upgradable to 15 Mpps with distributed CEF is $24,995, and the Intrusion Detection System module is $14,995.

The following products are available in October and are priced as follows: The Distributed Forwarding Card is $11,995. The 16-port Gigabit Ethernet module with 24 Mpps is $41,995.

Further information on the Catalyst 6000 family can be found at