Cisco Switches and Routers

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Cisco routers and switches’ web-scale architecture helps ensure high availability, rapid deployment, and continuous scalability for business networks and data centers.
This overview introduces you to a few of the widely-used Cisco switches and firewall appliances.

Cisco Catalyst

Cisco's Catalyst switches provide durability and longer-lasting hardware that delivers returns over time. They are best for organizations that need strong network performance and business agility.

This family of Cisco switches runs a proprietary operating system known as Cisco IOS. To log in, you'll need to enter a passcode or a combination of password and username.

These Cisco switches are secure and easy to configure and have a user-friendly interface. SNMP traps reduce the hassles of fixing faults.

Layer 3 Catalyst switches rely on specialized application-specific integrated circuits to perform routing functions faster than routers. However, they are usually not as feature-rich as the dedicated Cisco routers.

You can choose between fixed-configuration switches and modular switches.

Fixed-configuration units comprise one or two units with a fixed number of ports. They include:

  • Catalyst 9200 Series

Modularity provides scalable performance and configuration flexibility, helping you address expanding network requirements with ease. Modular Cisco switches, such as the 4500 and 6500 series, feature individually installed components (CPU card, switch card, power supply, fan, etc.). However, these models have higher upfront costs than their fixed-configuration counterparts.

In the event a modular model breaks down, you don’t have to replace the entire system. It’s far cheaper and easier to replace the defective component.

Cisco Nexus Switches

Nexus series of Cisco switches debuted in 2008. Thanks to their capability to unify data, storage, and networking services, they’ve steadily built up a pool of happy users.

All Cisco Nexus models operate on the NX-OS firmware and operating system, which builds on Cisco IOS. The modularity allows the switches to start, stop, and upgrade processes automatically. The automation also helps with fault troubleshooting and system recovery.

The Cisco Nexus family requires a username-password combination for login. They comprise various models, including 1000V, 2000, 3000, 5000, 7000, and 9000 series.

Though the models have a similar design and configuration, there are several differences to consider. The Nexus 2000, for example, is technically not a standalone switch. It's an expansion module for a FEX-capable parent switch, such as Nexus 5000, 7000, and 9000 series.

The Nexus 9000 series provides the foundation for Cisco ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure). ACI is an SDN (software-defined networking) solution that enables network automation in complex virtual environments.

Cisco FirePower Series

The Cisco secure firewall portfolio strengthens your network’s defense against ever-evolving and complex threats. You get the confidence that you’re investing in an agile and integrated security foundation for your office, data center, or cloud environment.

You can integrate the firewall with other Cisco products and third-party solutions. That way, you build a collection of security products that work harmoniously to coordinate events quickly, silence network noise, and prevent threats.

Deep packet inspection helps block traffic based on the source, protocol (RTP, UDP, or TCP), and application.

Cisco Firewall uses Network Address Translation (NAT) to substitute a public IP address for a private IP address. In this case, destination devices recognize only the public IP address and not the original private address.

The firewall also creates an encrypted channel between a corporate network and an endpoint device on a separate network. This enables users to access data remotely.

Site-to-site IPsec VPN capabilities let you establish a secure and encrypted connection between two remote private LANs over the web. By doing so, you don’t have to lease costly dedicated WAN links.

The latest models incorporate Cisco Firepower, which provides extra cybersecurity features, including:

  • Mail scanning
  • Anti-malware
  • Antivirus
  • Intrusion prevention
  • DDOS prevention
  • Security intelligence

Firepower-enabled devices are managed by Cisco SFMC software (Cisco Secure Firewall Management Center). You can have SFMC installed as a dedicated appliance or a virtual machine on a hypervisor.

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Cisco Catalyst 9300 Series
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