Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) is putting in place the final piece of its Unified Access strategy, designed to simplify network infrastructure in world where wired and wireless networks co-exist — and sometimes compete with each other.

“We’ve developed a platform for network infrastructure that brings together all of the access technologies into a single solution,” said Inbar Lasser-Raab, senior director of Enterprise Networking Marketing at Cisco. The new technologies aim to solve the challenges IT faces in managing multiple networks while finding time to drive new business processes, she said.

At the heart of the Unified Access strategy is the Catalyst 3850 switch, which includes an integrated wireless LAN controller that enables termination of wired, wireless and VPN connections and can translate or convert one to the other.

Other switches exist that can handle both wired and wireless traffic, Lasser-Raab noted, but Catalyst is different.
“The secret sauce is the new ASIC -- the Unified Access Data Plane (UADP) ASIC,” she said. “It cost $100 million to develop, has 1.4 transistors and 1.5 billion lines of code. Plus, it’s open and programmable, so as customers’ needs evolve the ASIC can support current and future needs.”

The Catalyst 3850 is priced the same as its 3750 predecessor, offering current 3750 customers investment protection, Lasser-Raab said. In fact, customers who have the 3750 model and want to take advantage of the UADP ASIC can purchase the new 5760 wireless LAN controller, which also uses the UADP ASIC to offer 60Gbps of capacity for centralized deployment. “This is for those companies with multiple deployment models,” she noted.

As networking becomes more about keeping users connected no matter how or where they are, solution providers are at a pivotal point in their relationships--help their customers navigate a landscape littered with BYOD, multiple device connections and other networking land mines, or risk being left behind.