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Cisco Live London: 40 and 100 GbE switching and souped up WLAN

At Cisco Live London, Cisco debuted 40 and 100 GbE line cards for Nexus and Catalyst switching lines, as well as a 4-antenna wireless access point meant to soup up the WLAN.

At Cisco Live London last week, Cisco debuted 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet line cards for its Nexus and Catalyst lines, along with new network virtualization strategies that will help optimize the new capacity. It also unveiled a 4-antenna WLAN access point (AP) that promises to double the existing maximum throughput at longer ranges.

For Cisco channel partners, the 40 and 100 GbE expansion means they can go back to their customers and sell major upgrades to existing Catalyst or Nexus infrastructure, or they can sell new product that has plenty of room to grow. On the WLAN front, the 4-antenna AP may be one way to differentiate in a crowded market with stiff competition.

But possibly the most compelling story partners have to tell about all of the new technology is that Cisco is offering up what it calls an architecture-wide approach that addresses needs in the campus, data center and branch office, as well as the entire wireless enterprise. The overall idea, Cisco execs say, is to improve cloud networking and WAN performance with an eye on optimizing application delivery to any user, on any device, in any location.

Cisco launches 40 and 100 GbE and network virtualization

With the launch of Cisco's 40 and 100 GbE line cards for Nexus and Catalyst switches, Cisco is hoping to create a new world order in which 10 GbE switches would become basic access switches, while 40 GbE would be used for the data center backbone, and 100 GbE would be used for interconnecting data centers and in service provider networks.

On the network virtualization front, Cisco launched the Easy Virtual Network (EVN), a WAN segmentation technology that lets users automatically spin up separate logical networks on a shared network. The technology runs on the Catalyst 6500, Catalyst 4500 and the ASR1000 platforms. The goal is to better utilize the rush of new capacity for application delivery.

On the data center side, Cisco also added VXLAN capability to its Cisco Nexus 1000v virtual switch. VXLAN addresses the challenge of not having enough VLANs in the data center, allowing engineers to scale up thousands of VLANs necessary for logical separation in a multi-tenant cloud network. Also released was the Nexus 1010-X, which applies services, such as compliance, to a virtualization environment.

Read the details of the Cisco 40 GbE and 100 GbE switching on

Cisco goes the software-defined networking route … but not with OpenFlow

It may have been 40 and 100 GbE switching that stole the spotlight at Cisco Live London, but CTO Padmasree Warrior also hinted at a strategic shift toward Software-Defined Networking (SDN) – yet apparently the company won't use the OpenFlow standard as many had hoped.

Using SDN, engineers can separate the control plane of a network from the physical components in order to granularly manage traffic flows and spin up virtual instances of networking components on demand. Over the past year, a number of developers have been working on OpenFlow-based control planes and other applications, but they were waiting on networking vendors, such as Cisco to launch OpenFlow-friendly switches. That apparently won't happen any time soon.

Cisco's SDN moves are apparent in its EVN technology, as well as a number of changes announced to its Nexus OS, which will now support Python scripting and some open APIs for enhanced network programmability.

But when asked where OpenFlow fit into Cisco's software strategy, execs said that the protocol was not yet production ready.

Read more about Cisco software-defined networking on

Cisco debuts the 4-antenna wireless AP

In the last year, the enterprise WLAN has taken on a whole new sense of importance. After all, if IT consumerization in the enterprise has arrived, then WLANs will have to become mission critical to handle the influx of mobile devices. In response to this need, Cisco introduced the Aironet 3600, the first 4x4 MIMO design for a three-spatial-stream 802.11n wireless LAN access point at Cisco Live London.

The majority of enterprise wireless LAN vendors offer three-spatial-stream APs, but they have generally relied on 3-antenna, or 3x3 MIMO, designs. A three-stream 802.11n access point can establish a theoretical maximum data rate of 450 Mbps with a three-stream client, but enterprises often struggle with achieving those data rates in real-world settings. Cisco claims that by adding a fourth radio to a 4x4 MIMO design, it can double the maximum throughput range to 30 feet.

Read more about the Cisco 4-antenna WLAN access point on

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