Cisco looks to double intent-based networking market with new switch, adds wireless

Sachin Gupta, senior vice president of product management for enterprise networking at Cisco

Sachin Gupta, senior vice president of product management for enterprise networking at Cisco, showing off the new Catalyst 92 00

LAS VEGAS – Kicking off the 2018 edition of Cisco Partner Summit here, Cisco more than doubled the total addressable market for its intent-based networking lineup in one — or rather, two — fell swoops, introducing new members of the Catalyst 9000 switching family that address smaller customers, and for the first time, bring wireless networking into its intent-based model.

Cisco’s Intent-based networking strategy, introduced about 18 months ago as its big run at software-defined networking and the spearhead of its overall transformation into a much more software-heavy company, spawned the Catalyst 9000 series of its flagship switches, a lineup the company has called its fastest product line to $1 billion in revenues ever. And the new members of the family “more than double” the number of customers it can address with the intent-based approach, making it a potential boon for solution providers focused on midmarket customers.

Presenting the 9200 for the first time from the Partner Summit keynote stage, Sachin Gupta, senior vice president of product management for enterprise networking at Cisco, said the company believes the new product will ultimately run “about a quarter of the world’s ports” in switching, a lofty goal indeed. The company is targeting both SME customers and branch deployments with the new offering, which carries the same network programmability and subscription-based model as the rest of the Catalyst 9000 series. Members of the family include 24- and 48-port switches with options for 1 gigabit, 10 gigabit, and modular uplinks. The 9200 family will be available this quarter, with Cisco saying it will be at “the same price point” as the Catalyst 2000 series that it replaces.

Meanwhile, the company also introduced the Catalyst 9800 family, its first wireless controller in the intent-based networking family, bringing WiFi under the purview of greater software-based control for the first time. Gupta told Partner Summit attendees that it would offer “all the same capabilities” as the rest of the wired intent-based networking family, including introducing Cisco’s “on the fly” security analysis of encrypted traffic, and adds the ability to segment users consistently across wired and wireless infrastructure with the company’s DNA Center software. The wireless controller will also be available before the end of the year, and Cisco says it can be run on-premise, in the cloud, or embedded on Catalyst 9000-family switches.

Jason Gallo, global director of partner sales business development at Cisco

Jason Gallo, global director of partner sales business development at Cisco

The extension of intent-based networking to a greater audience can drive more business for partners, said Jason Gallo, director of partner sales for enterprise networking at Cisco. For example, he said Cisco partners who sell DNA Center along with Catalyst 9000 family members typically see deal sizes increase by 1.7x the hardware alone, while those who go deep around software lifecycle management and analytics, as well as its SD-Access software, can get that multiplier up to 4.5x.

“And that’s not including the rich professional services required at every step of the way,” Gallo added.

From a technical point of view, everything from its highest-capacity switches to the new branch and wireless offerings now run on the same version of its IOS XE operating system, meaning commonality in terms of functionality, user experience, and management for both customers and partners. 

David Goeckeler, Cisco’s executive vice president of networking and security

David Goeckeler, Cisco’s executive vice president of networking and security

In his Partner Summit keynote, David Goeckeler, Cisco’s executive vice president of networking and security, said that with the new members of the family, Cisco partners now have access to intent-based offerings for “every customer we’ve sold enterprise networking to for the last 30 years.”

The focus of the 9200 in an SMB-friendly place as heir apparent to the 2000 series should play well in the predominantly SME Canadian market, said Mark Collins, vice president of Cisco Canada’s partner organization. He called the 9200 “the last piece” of the network intuitive story, fleshing out the all-important edge. 

“If you look at the Canadian profile, and the number of Catalyst 9000s on the edge, there’s million of ports of advantage out there for and our partners who’ve been working on [intent-based networking] with us for the last two years,” he said, adding that due to that footprint, the Catalyst 9800 would likely “be higher than 25 per cent” of the ports in Canada over time.

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Robert Dutt

Robert Dutt is the founder and head blogger at ChannelBuzz.ca. He has been covering the Canadian solution provider channel community for a variety of publications and Web sites since 1997. 

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