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Catalyst 9000: One platform for any architecture!

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jayshar
Cisco Employee

Network segmentation and extension has been an issue that every network operator has been trying to solve since time immemorial while deploying their enterprise networks. Ever since the inception of VLANs with IEEE 802.1Q-1998 standard, segmentation and extension became accessible to everyone however, it added complexities when it comes to managing network loops and other issues with spanning tree. Overtime, multiple fabric technologies such as MPLS, VPLS etc came in and redefined how we look at the network and make it even more scalable and thus acting as the backbone of the very internet that helped define the world as we know today. While MPLS and VPLS are very effective in the functions they provide, it required every single hop on the network to be MPLS-aware in order to share label tags thus requiring major infrastructure changes when it comes to campus deployments.

 

Introduction on VxLAN on data plane and different control plane options such as LISP that is being used within Cisco’s Software-Defined Access(SDA) the industry’s leading fabric solution that provides one of a kind integrated wired-wireless zero trust solution or with industry standard BGP-EVPN technology solved many of the issues. Now with SDA and BGP-EVPN based deployments, the intermediary hops are completely transparent and do not participate in fabric thus lowering the barrier to entry.

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Regardless of the deployment option one chooses, the same Catalyst 9K Switch and the same IOS-XE software running within it can support all the deployment options at once while providing the industry’s broadest portfolio when it comes to platform types, speeds, form factor etc. making Catalyst 9000 Switches the most versatile platform for campus deployments.

BGP-EVPN: The Cisco difference

Cisco has been the leading contributor to many innovations within the networking industry and which in turn now runs across most of the campus infrastructure. BGP-EVPN is one such example, wherein we took all the in-house expertise and experience to solve real-world customer problems. Cisco in the process ended up redefining the entire BGP-EVPN VxLAN stack for customers and operators around the globe leading into the broad contributions that Cisco has made into various EVPN IETF RFCs as well as on patents for this technology1.

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While many of these innovations started with data-center focused use cases, many of them have direct applicability into campus as well. A combination of these standards-based RFCs being led by Cisco as well as all the patented technologies that work on top of the fabric, puts Cisco in a unique position to deliver best of breed BGP-EVPN solution to the industry.

Keeping campus in the center

Cisco IOS and now subsequently IOS XE has a rich history of delivering functionality that aims to meet customer needs across decades resulting in the most feature rich and stable platform for enterprise deployments. We know that when our customers look for segmentation and extensions via EVPN fabric, all the other aspects of campus requirements still remains important and with that in mind the EVPN deployment on campus centers around the use cases  customers on campus would like to achieve rather than retrofitting a technology.

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With that in mind, we have delivered many campus integrations such as interworking of Cisco’s Wide Area Bonjour with BGP-EVPN to ensure that the mDNS traffic is effectively routes instead of being flooded or Fabric Aware NetFlow to get visibility into the traffic patterns on the overlay name a few. Cisco’s solution also takes into account how the fabric will work with other campus components like Wireless, firewall, Radis/TACACS+ server and not treat them as an afterthought to the fabric and hence creating a solution around the technology that is cohesive.

 

Flexibility is at the core of how we develop and test various feature sets within the BGP-EVPN stack by ensuring that we are not only standards compliant, but also keeping in mind that our customers expect us to provide a seamless experience when it comes to running a fabric across other Cisco operating systems like IOS-XR and NX-OS. All this while ensuring that we provide a mechanism for both greenfield and brownfield deployments with VLAN by VLAN based migration if necessary2.

What’s next?

Cisco will continue to evolve the various fabric options we provide, across SD Access, MPLS and BGP-EVPN all while keeping the same platform and operating system to provide our users with best in class features and flexibility that they expect from a Catalyst platforms. You should also expect us to deliver innovations across these various options like MPLS traffic engineering, Tenant Routed Multicast with Data MDT on EVPN and various Zero trust solution on SD-Access.

References

1: https://www.arkko.com/tools/allstats/c_cisco.html

2: Enterprise Campus BGP EVPN Deep Dive BRKENS-2003

3: Cisco Catalyst 9000 Platforms

4: Cisco SD-Access