Cisco Systems (CSCO) is riding its own wave in the software-defined networking (SDN) pool as it refreshes its entire enterprise networking line to meet the next level of enterprise needs.

“This is our biggest network announcement in years,” said Inbar Lasser-Raab, senior director of Enterprise Networking Marketing at Cisco, during an announcement at the company's Cisco Live! event in Orlando, Fla. “It’s about changing experiences, and what makes that happen is the networks—the network can change the business experience for all.”

Software-defined networking is a major driver in creating the next generation of networks that enable a deeper interaction between, say, a doctor and patient in a healthcare situation by having the right contextual information and even location information. Cisco’s version of SDN is Cisco Open Network Environment (ONE), which applies software programmability to ASICs, operating systems, networking functions and services across the data center, WAN and LAN, according to the company. The result is an end-to-end intelligent network that ostensibly can provide more services to end users and less hassle for IT administrators.

“We think the network is going to enable business transformation and launch a whole new generation of applications,” said Rob Soderbery, senior vice president and general manager of Enterprise Networking Group at Cisco.

As part of that, Cisco is extending the Catalyst 6x family with the Catalyst 6800 series switches, which the company calls “the highest-performing Catalyst switches to date.”

“In the enterprise network, the foundation is the Catalyst 6500, the most widely deployed enterprise switch in the market,” Soderbery said. “We’re now extending the family to add the Catalyst 6800 product family, which duilds on all heritage and legacy with whole new capabilities and opportunities.”

The Catalyst 6800 line includes:

  • The Catalyst 6807-XL: The topline model offering five times more scale than the 6500 series, including 880 Gig per slot and 11.4TB of switching capacity, and more than 3,000 features such as multiprotocol label switching, TrustSec, application awareness and wireless controllers.
  • The Catalyst 6880-X: A semi-fixed switch aimed at the midmarket space, featuring 10Gbps advanced services and supporting up to 80 10Gbps ports or 20 40Gbps ports.
  • The Catalyst 6800ia Instant Access: A switch offering “one-touch deployments for simplified Catalyst 600 campus operations,” according to Cisco. The unit virtually consolidates access switches across multiple locations into one extended switch for simplified management.

Cisco also introduced the 4500E Supervisor Engine 8E, which Soderbery said, “Brings the (Unified Access data plane) ASIC to Catalyst 4500, offering unified access, application visibility and control.” The UADP ASIC, which simplifies management of both wired and wireless networks, is already present in the recently announced Catalyst 3850 switch.

Finally, Cisco introduced two new integrated services routers—the ISR4451-AX and the ISR 1000-AX that enable application services at both the campus and branch office levels.

“These routers integrate application visibility, control and optimization into a single solution,” Soderbery said. “In addition to routing and security, they offer integrated WAN optimization and application visibility and control.”

For Cisco’s partners, the networking line refresh and new products offer a path for new conversations with new and existing customers looking to find more value in their networks with less hassle. Software-defined networking has been hailed as the heir apparent in networking technology, and Cisco is trying very hard to keep the crown firmly planted on its own head.