Cisco's new SD-WAN routers bring 5G and virtualization to enterprises

Aggregated service routers have been designed with large enterprises and cloud service providers in mind

SD-WAN router infographic

Cisco has launched four new devices in its Catalyst 8000 Edge series. They include a 5G cellular gateway, two Virtual CPE Edge units, and a heavy-duty aggregation router, all designed to support SD-WAN networking.

The company debuted its Catalyst 8000 family last October, and Cisco expanded the range by launching the Cisco Catalyst 8500L, the latest addition to the Catalyst 8500 Edge family. This is a collection of what Cisco calls aggregated service routers designed with large enterprises and cloud service providers in mind. They’re an evolution of the company's ASR 1000 series of routers. 

Cisco designed the Catalyst 8500L for SD-WAN use cases, where wide area network (WAN) connectivity is configurable via software. They also support the emerging secure access service edge (SASE) model that Gartner defined in mid-2019. That builds on SD-WAN to offer zero-trust networking capabilities for secure access.

The 8500L is an SD-WAN capable router that offers WAN connectivity at speeds of up to 10 Gbps. Rackable in a 1RU form factor, it runs either at core sites or colocation sites and features twelve x86 cores and up to 64 GB of memory, which Cisco says will support secure connectivity for thousands of remote sites. It also includes Cisco Trust Anchor technology, a tamper-proof trusted platform module that guarantees the hardware is authentic to protect against supply chain attacks.

The Cisco Catalyst 8200 is a 1 Gbps branch office router with eight CPU cores and 8 GB of RAM, which Cisco says doubles the performance over the existing ISR 4300 series. That is helped by a hardware performance acceleration feature called Intel QuickAssist.

Complementing the Catalyst 8200 is the Cisco Catalyst 8200 uCPE, a branch office customer premises equipment (CPE) device with a small physical footprint. It features eight CPU cores and supports up to 500 Mbps aggregate IPsec performance. It can also take pluggable interface modules (PIMs), which are hardware extensions giving it cellular connectivity options.

Speaking of cellular communications, the new Cisco Catalyst Cellular Gateway 5G plugs into a router to offer on-premises cellular connectivity in sub-6GHz bands. The device uses Power over Ethernet (PoE) to relay cellular communications back to the router.

Admins can manage the devices using software, including vManage, licensed under Cisco's DNA model. vManage has three tiers: 

  • DNA Essentials offers core SD-WAN, routing, and security features. 
  • DNA Advantage gives subscribers the Essentials package, plus support for advanced routing capabilities including MPLS BGP; better security support with Advanced Malware Protection and SSL proxy features; and access to Cisco’s Cloud OnRamp, which helps with connectivity to multiple cloud service providers.
  • DNA Premier adds centralized security management for all locations.
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