Campus and data center switching networks differ in their requirements. An understanding of the two deployments and the specific requirements of each is imperative to choose the right Cisco switch. Each deployment type requires that switches have certain unique features.
User Access Control and Segmentation A campus or branch office is where users connect to network wired or wirelessly, and every connection point is vulnerable to security breaches. Capabilities to allow access based on business policy, prevent users from interfering with other users and their resources, isolate infected and malicious devices and applications, and track users in the network are crucial features of a campus switch. Cisco Catalyst switches support IEEE 802.1x and security group tags (SGTs), which automate authentication and network segmentation for user groups and provide access based on user roles. The switches, in conjunction with Cisco Prime™ applications, can help administrators track and monitor every user. Additionally, Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Switches support Easy Virtual Network (EVN), which simplifies deployment of technologies such as Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), generic routing encapsulation (GRE), and Virtual Routing and Forwarding (VRF)–Lite to segment users and groups in the network.
Globally, business web-based video conferencing traffic is forecasted to grow six fold from 2011 to 2016, a compounded aggregate growth rate (CAGR) of 45 percent1. Devices, such as computers, smartphones, cameras, and dedicated Telepresence units, used to send and receive video are proliferating. Helping ensure a consistent experience and the capability to troubleshoot problems are critical in all these scenarios, and the network plays a major role. Cisco Catalyst switches have Medianet features that enable lifecycle video solutions to assess network readiness for video with built-in IP service-level agreement (SLA) tools, automated troubleshooting, and per-flow and per-hop flow metrics to measure such factors as packet loss and network jitter.
Controllers to manage wireless access points are ubiquitous in campus and branch-office networks. These controllers can be a physical or virtual appliance or integrated into a LAN switch. The Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series supports the integrated Cisco Wireless Services Module 2 (WISM2). Cisco also has standalone wireless controllers that work in conjunction with the Cisco Catalyst switches.
The rising number of different applications places a huge burden on the network. Congestion and outages can occur, and network administrators need an accurate way to track the application traffic flowing through the network to troubleshoot and correct the situation. Cisco Catalyst switches provide Cisco Flexible NetFlow, Network Analysis Modules (NAMs), and Network-Based Application Recognition (NBAR), which comprehensively scan the traffic and offer reports based on protocols, applications, and users.
PoE is a technology through which power can be delivered to end devices such as IP phones and access points from
a connected LAN switch through the LAN cable. Power consumption can also be managed from a central location,
which helps conserve energy and reduce costs. Cisco Catalyst switches support PoE, Enhanced PoE (PoE+),
and Cisco Universal PoE (Cisco UPOE™), which deliver 15 to 60 watts (W) per port. Cisco EnergyWise™ technology can be used to manage energy consumption of many end devices connected to the switches.
Cloud Security and Virtual Machine Awareness As the number of virtual machines increases, so do the challenges of configuring, administering, and troubleshooting the networks that connect them. Because today’s networks have both physical and virtual servers on them, visibility and awareness into both environments is critical. Network policies, dictating everything from quality-of-service (QoS) parameters to access control lists (ACLs), define the way that clients and servers, as well as their traffic, is supposed to behave on the network.