Cisco Updates Linux Powered Networking Gear

Switches, wireless access points running on Linux and a new cloud based monitoring service, OnPlus, debut for SMEs.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Apr 12, 2012
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The top end of Cisco's networking portfolio is largely powered by the internetnetwork operating system (IOS). But, when it comes to smaller deployments with less intense requirements, Cisco relies on Linux.

Cisco is now refreshing its Linux powered portfolio of network devices with new switches and wireless access points (APs). On the switch side is the new 500 series switching platform that will serve customers that don't need an IOS powered Catalyst switch.

The 500 series switches are a step up from the Cisco 300 series switches that the networking giant first announced in September of 2010. The 500 series offers 24 to 52 Ethernet switching ports and supports both IPv4 and IPv6. In contrast to the 300 series, the 500 series are stackable allowing for larger scale deployments.

"So if you're in an environment that requires high port count scalability, the 500 series is more suitable than the 300 series," Dave Tang, director of Strategy at Cisco told EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet.

The 500X series adds 10 gigabit Ethernet (GbE) port capabilities that further expands the bandwidth scalability of the platform.

From a deployment perspective, Cisco is including its Auto Smartports technology to help optimize traffic delivery on the 500 series switches. Quality of service (QoS) policies on the 500 series can enable, for example, high-definition voice transmission over the switching infrastructure; ensuring optimum quality.

"Smartports automatically detect the type of device that is connected into the switch port," Tang explained. "So in the case of a unified communications situation, the switch will know that a connected device is a phone and not a PC and, as such, will automatically set the quality of service policies."

The 500 series also adhere to the Energy Efficient Ethernet standard (EEE) . EEE reduces the amount of energy used by a switch by adjusting power based on the distance between the switch and the connected device. The PoE Plus (power over Ethernet) standard is also supported on the 500 series enabling the transmission of up to 30 watts of power per port to connected devices.

Wireless

Cisco is also refreshing its low-end wireless APs portfolio with a pair of new devices. The WAP 121 is a 2.4 Ghz access point that only has 100 megabyte per second (Mbps) Fast Ethernet wired connectivity. Tang noted that Cisco is still seeing demand for the low end of the wireless spectrum. Offering a bit more power is the new WAP 321 that includes both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radios as well as GbE wired capabilities. Neither of the devices include the Clean Air spectrum traffic capabilities that Cisco higher-end enterprise wireless APs include.

Cisco is however offering its smaller business customers with a partner solution from Fluke Networks to help identify where the best places are to actually locate an AP. The Fluke Networks Airmagnet Planner is now being made available to Cisco's onPlus users. OnPlus is a managed service offered by Cisco that enables a service provider to monitor a customer's networking environment.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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