Cisco Catalyst Switches Review
March 06, 2019

Cisco Catalyst Switches Review

Edwin Sandys | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with Cisco Catalyst Switches

  • Catalyst 2960 X/XR Series
  • Catalyst 3650 Series
  • Catalyst 3850 Series
  • Catalyst 6800 Series
  • Other
We use the Catalyst range as our access, distribution and internal core routing layer. This pretty much makes up the core of our campus network with recent upgrades to 10 Gig and some movement for 40 Gig within our data center.

We like the idea that we have a lot of control within our layer two environment and are able to implement many security functions within our switching layer.
  • Spanning-Tree - The ability to handle loops and BPDU Guards is unmatched in my opinion. We heavily rely on this functionality to mitigate some layer 2 issues we sometimes face.
  • Syslogs and SNMP - We love the detail at which we can obtain syslog information and filter based on levels. Much of our troubleshooting of faults with the detailed SNMP traps assist in mitigating issues early.
  • L3 Switching - I love the fact that we can easily do routing and switching within the same unit, and for our internal core operations, it's perfect. High-speed port density are coupled with routing into a single unit on the larger Catalyst switches.
  • For the larger Catalyst 6800 and even the older 6500 switches, while Netflow is supported within the units, experience in these areas has been unsatisfying sometimes. We noticed the supervisor engines over time ramp up their CPU utilization which can cause performance issues. Perhaps take this into account and tailor your Netflow sample configurations differently for the Catalysts.
  • The switching component is always the most expensive area within any investment. It's a justification of capability and resilience over cost, so if you want to be assured of your operations, go Cisco Catalyst.
  • The challenge is not within the actual Catalyst product line but more within the cabling infrastructure that links into the technology as well as choosing the right switch based on your scenario. This comes with experience and reading a lot of Cisco Design Guides.
We have benefited from automation, but to achieve the benefits, you need the right tools to facilitate such functions. We use Cisco Prime which meets our needs. With the Catalyst Switches range, you won't be disappointed with the ease of integration and manageability. For example, we can simply schedule an upgrade of all switches at a given time (say 3 a.m.) and rely on Prime to execute this for us. It loads the new IOS, reloads the catalyst upon completion, and then cleans up the old image without issues. It also handles your configuration backup.
Catalyst Switches ranges come with heaps of customization which we use, and it's totally based on feature requirements. It's difficult to explain all the customization capabilities, but we get a lot of analytics from our operations by integrating with Cisco Prime. Based on the data collected, we can anticipate congestion in our network early and start making plans for augmentation.
For me, essentially it came down to integration and a good understanding of our switching environment. To use other brands would have meant managing two different sets of codes or scripts for the same functions. It would work if you could get the configuration correct, but Cisco just worked out better in regards to features and handling layer 2 security concerns.
Let's put it this way - when is a catalyst switch not required!? In essence, the challenge is not justifying whether Catalyst Switches is the right path because we all know it's the better choice. It's a matter of which model is the right choice based on your scenario.

But making the choice of which model to place at which point is not always easy, even with the "Help Me Choose" option that Cisco offers. Always look at the datasheets and understand what you require, then make the selection before consulting with your Cisco account manager.

For the access layer, go with Cisco 2960X with the 10 Gig Fiber Uplinks. If you have multiple switches within the same rack, add on the stacking feature. Get these access layer switches to aggregate into some of the Cisco 3850s or more as your distribution nodes before finally linking into the larger Catalyst 6800 or the newer 9500.