Catalyst for the rest of us
Updated January 15, 2019

Catalyst for the rest of us

Graham Murison | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Modules Used

  • Cisco Catalyst 3650 Series

Overall Satisfaction with Cisco Catalyst Switches

  • Catalyst 2960 X/XR Series
  • Catalyst 3650 Series
We are currently using the Catalyst series in our Core, Distribution, and Access Layer network design. It is used in the majority of the organization across multiple locations.

We were looking to segment our network as we transitioned from a small organization to a larger one. It allowed us to get a better understanding of the needs of our end users, implement appropriate security mechanisms and make network management easier.

Our newest scope for re-design is to stack several devices and allow even easier management and reduce the need for loop detection mechanisms.

We just deployed the a couple Catalyst 3650 Stackwise-160 and the migration was almost flawless from the 3560-x series (standalone). The only issue is that we are experiencing a LACP etherchannel which will explain more further down. We have replaced all our HP access layer switches with the 2960-X POE.
  • Management and administration
  • Documentation
  • Integration with the rest of Cisco's product lines
  • Community support
  • Hardware design and layout
  • Price. There are competitors that provide similar service levels at the most reasonable prices.
  • The innovation of emerging technology in areas of network management and integration.
  • Model numbers can be confusing when wanting to find exactly what you need.
  • Cisco IOS feature sets are even more confusing than the model numbers
  • Be ware of IOS bug(s) that could affect your infrastructure. But every vendor will have them
  • Return on investment compared to a reduced time of management has improved our overalls goals on network management
  • Being a small-mid size organization it can stretch our budget when we implement new initiatives
  • Even those not on the network have the ability manage these devices due to documentation and IOS command structure
  • The new stack makes the management of multiple devices quite easy. Yes I know not a new concept, but doing it well is not something all vendors can do
  • The tools and options available naively in the Cisco IOS gives us more troubleshooting options and usually quicker than some 3rd party options.
We haven't really dived into automation nor analytics with this line, but Our VMware admins love the Cisco Discovery Protocol compatibility that is used with vCenter. They are able to to tell the network setup without having to bother the network admins.

Due to the partnerships with VMware there are also other efficiencies that we could use, like the Nexus series, however I just don't have the budget nor manpower to implement.
Cisco does a fantastic job with allowing you to customize just about any feature you may need to and more. The command line interface is robust and advanced so you know that this is not a port from the web UI.

We have also configured all our devices with a snmp monitor and the amount of data we get from the Cisco devices is far more superior to other vendors that we have.
Superior network management between HP's Procurve line at the time we compared the two several years ago. When I looked at Extreme Networks, Cisco's offering was close enough for me to stick with the commonality that it provided. Extreme Networks would have required a significant learning curve for programming a new line of devices.

Networking feature sets between Extreme and Cisco are very similar and not a differentiating factor for us.

Cisco is still an ever present in the magic quadrant for wired/wireless switches:
Great for connecting end-user devices and inter-VLAN routing. There is a lot of configuration examples for implementing this feature. We also use single-mode fiber to connect multiple campus locations. With this, there was an issue of uni-directional link detection causing link failure. The Cisco Catalyst handled this quite well after I figure out which feature to enable (udld).

Beware to fully research potential bugs in the Cisco IOS you are deploying. I missed one with etherchannel and it caused me a 30 minute headache.

Using Cisco Catalyst Switches

Like to use
Well integrated
Requires technical support
Slow to learn
  • Interface management
  • remote admin / ssh / console security
  • web access
  • delegate access to lower tier support
Based on my previous experience with other vendors, Cisco is worlds apart. I can manage every feature I need with great flexibility.

Other vendors that only provide web UI, limited functionality exists.

The other benefit is that since Cisco has been a strong player for so long, their training is being done in some high schools now expanding the knowledge to more of the workforce.