Cisco Catalyst is a pretty solid choice, but is it the only one?
Updated January 09, 2019

Cisco Catalyst is a pretty solid choice, but is it the only one?

Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 7 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with Cisco Catalyst 9300 Series Switches

  • Catalyst 3850 Series
  • Catalyst 9300 Series
We are trying to follow the hardware refresh policy that Cisco is somehow enforcing. So every, 4-5 years, we change all the catalysts in the entire organization. At the moment we have mostly 3850 and just started the installation process of the new 9300. As access layer switches we use them to connect users.
  • Stacking is quite good and starting with the 3850 the connections at 480Gbs. In INSTALL mode, with a couple of commands, you can upgrade the entire stack.
  • Port security is quite easy and customizable. Together with DHCP snooping and dynamic ARP inspection, you can guarantee a good level of security
  • Usually they are pretty stable if they are running a basic configuration. We haven't have any hardware issues with 3850 in years.
  • Bugs. Cisco (but also other vendors) is not exempt from bugs. Sometimes they can be quite frustrating, and also create serious issues to users
  • The price is still too high, even if the new 9300 has the same price as the 3850. With 3850, to get to the L3 license from the L2, the price is just ridiculous
  • Sometimes waiting 6 weeks for a switch is too much. They can definitely improve the shipment time.
  • We have 90% of the global network running with Cisco and the uptime is pretty good. Downtime means we lose money, so it's really important.
  • The price is not helping while creating a BOM and/or a CAR. Business is not always happy when we have 150k in Cisco switches.
  • The hardware lifetime is around 5 years.
SD-Access is "included" in the 9300 license, but we don't use it since the entire ecosystem is really expensive and not mature yet.
We manage the switches in the "old" fashioned way, with a monitoring tool (not Cisco), and actually we are ok with this solution.
Cisco is a major player out there, and they invest a lot in research. You cannot go wrong with Cisco, but keep your eyes open for other possibilities. We are evaluating other vendors to see if we can improve our network and suffer less vendor lockdown.
In a Cisco environment, buying access switches of the same vendor is almost a must, but sometimes it could be also a good idea not be locked with one vendor only. This really depends on the company and the environment.
In general, access switches are a good fit to connect users and it's not suggested to used them for servers.

Cisco Catalyst Addtional Questions

  • We use them as access devices in the LAN for users
  • With IP Base license we use them as L3 switches
  • With Advanced IP service license they can be used as core switches for the campus with dynamic routing protocols
  • Product Usability
  • Prior Experience with the Product
  • Existing Relationship with the Vendor
Our entire network is based on Cisco. It's possible to mix vendors, but it's not ideal due to different reasons (compatibility, management, etc)
Essentially we use one of the main vendor for networking a we stick to it.
It's also easier to find engineers with Cisco knowledge and certifications, while with other vendors it may be little bit harder.
We use a template in order to have the same configuration in every site.
I suggest to study Cisco documentation and also to use the Cisco community knowledge base to get a standard and suitable configuration for your company.
It's part of the best practice to consider security features like port security, broadcast storm control and DHCP snooping
Sales process is done through another vendor that is not Cisco. They call it partner and they can be a big Telco or also a small company. Usually if the company is bigger it's little bit easier to get better discount, but it may be harder with the bureaucracy.
The problem of having sites in every continent is to get the same discount from Cisco, since the account manager is different in every country.
Cisco is well structured and after the sale they are quite helpful.
You need to get in contact with the account manager directly or if it's not possible use the cisco partner.
I suggest, if possible, to contact directly cisco to avoid losing time.
The downside with Cisco is that the change the AM too often.
Usually we plan and deploy every solution internally.
When we implemented the first data center, we just went to the Cisco HQ to discuss in detail about the solution and also we did some testing in the lab. All of this was free of charge and we successfully designed and implemented our DC.

Cisco Catalyst 9300 Series Switches Support

Honestly it really depends on who is going to take your case. You may need to contact your Cisco account manager if you don't get good support from the TAC.
Lately the 3850 and 9300 switches are affected by several bugs and sometimes it is frustrating when it's faster if you research the problem by yourself instead of rely on Cisco support. On the other hand I found also some really talented people in the cisco support team.