The race to get Wi-Fi 6 hardware to market is continuing to accelerate, with Cisco announcing its entry into the emerging space.
Wi-Fi 6 was formerly known as the 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard and offers the promise of faster connectivity than the current 802.11ac standard that is already widely deployed by Cisco and other networking vendors. Among the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 are increased data rates, reduced latency, higher density and improved power efficiency over existing Wi-Fi access points.
"Every leap in connectivity enables the next wave of profound innovation. 5G and Wi-Fi 6 represent a new era of connectivity," David Goeckeler, EVP and General Manager, Networking and Security Business at Cisco said. "Developers are already creating the next generation of wireless-first, immersive experiences. With billions of things connecting to the network, this growth will create unprecedented complexity for IT."
Cisco's Wi-Fi Hardware
Cisco's new Wi-Fi 6 enabled hardware includes the Cisco Catalyst 9100 series and the Cisco Meraki MR 45/55 access points. Catalyst is Cisco's mainline of traditional hardware, while Meraki is the cloud managed product lineup.
Within the Cisco Catalyst 9100 portfolio, there are three APs, including the 9115, 9117 and 9210 devices. The 9115 is a 4x4 device with one 2.5 Gbps multigig wired ethernet port, while the 9117 is an 8x8 with one 5 Gbps multigig wired port. Both the 9115 and the 9117 are positioned by Cisco as being ideal for small to medium sized deployments.
In contrast the 9120 is a mission critical Wi-Fi 6 AP that integrates Cisco's RF ASIC chip which provides the next generation of CleanAir functionality. Cisco has been deploying its' CleanAir technology in APs since at least 2010, providing organizations with a capability to detect and route around wireless interference.
All of the new Catalyst APs also integrate the next generation Bluetooth 5 standard, which is important for enabling connectivity with certain types of Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
With Wi-Fi 6 there is a need for more backend switching capacity infrastructure, which is a need that Cisco is looking to meet with its new Catalyst 9600 series switches.
The Catalyst 9600 can support up to 25.6 Tbps of wired switching capacity in a single chassis. In terms of ports, the modular system can support up to 48 ports of 100 Gigabit Ethernet and 192 25/10 Gigabit Ethernet ports. The Catalyst 9600 plugs into Cisco Digital Network Architecture (DNA) to enable a Software-Defined Access (SD-Access) approach for agile networking delivery.
"The new Catalyst 9600 modular core switch addresses the demands of Wi-Fi 6, mGig speeds, and security in a cloud-driven world," said Sachin Gupta Senior Vice President, Product Management at Cisco Enterprise Networking. "This switch will serve as a foundation for the next generation of multi-domain, Intent Based Networks, and will allow customers to create a wireless-first network built as a single fabric for wired and wireless."
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.