At the heart of Cisco’s dominance of the enterprise networking landscape is
the Cisco Catalyst switch. As the name implies, Catalyst switches enable traffic to flow across an enterprise as part of the Cisco Campus Communications Fabric.
Now the Campus Communications Fabric is about to get faster, thanks to a set of
new features that enterprises can upgrade piece by piece without sacrificing their infrastructures.
The new Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Virtual Switching System (VSS) 1440 will
enable Cisco users to combine multiple Catalyst 6500 switches to
provide as much as 1.44 terabits per second.
“What VSS delivers is network system ability to pool multiple switches
together within one virtualized system,” Kumar Srikantan, senior director of the
Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series System, told InternetNews.com. “It reduces
the management overhead in situations where customers have dual chassis
deployments which are typical in the core and data center networks.”
Srikantan explained that by virtualizing the Catalyst, Cisco has reduced the
number of routing instances, which makes the network easier to manage.
Fewer routing instances means more efficient routing due to the fact that traffic can bypass a network hop that does not virtually exist. And with fewer hops, network latency also improves, leading to a better performing enterprise network overall.
By improving network performance with VSS, Srikantan said Cisco is
“opening up the pipes” and letting enterprises take advantage of bandwidth
that was already in the network. To do this, Cisco needed to beef up its own
hardware and routing software to fully recognize the benefits of
virtualization and to provide the additional processing capability to deal
with the increased bandwidth potential.
Srikantan said Cisco first had to make changes on the port ASICs (define), as well as the CPU on the VSS itself. Additionally Cisco had to make improvements to its IOS (internetwork operating system), which powers its networking gear in order to take full advantage of the new network-routing capabilities that VSS provides.