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Cisco launches suite of products aimed at improving enterprise campus networks

Wi-Fi access points, switches, and a private 5G service will help support hybrid workers, company says

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Cisco has announced a range of services and products to support hybrid working, including a private 5G service for enterprises and new high-performance Wi-Fi access points tailored for enterprise campus environments.

The announcements focus on bolstering on-site enterprise networks to improve performance and accessibility for hybrid workers when they come to the office.

They target network infrastructures capable of supporting emerging business applications, including higher-resolution video traffic and immersive interfaces, Cisco said.

The private 5G service includes both 5G radio and Wi-Fi capabilities. Offered on a pay-as-you-go subscription model, the service is designed to minimize initial customer investment, and work is being done with third-party service providers to scope out customer environments and create tailored packages, Cisco explained.

Cisco will manage the cellular part of the solution, and customers use a cloud-based management portal to monitor and manage policy and enterprise networking devices, the vendor added. It also includes identity management, with secure access policies that allow users to access only the resources they need.

The company launched Wi-Fi 6E access points targeting hybrid business environments. Wi-Fi 6E extends Wi-FI 6 into the 6GHz radio spectrum for faster speed and reduces radio interference from other Wi-Fi devices. Cisco expects this to be useful for applications including augmented and virtual reality, which require high bandwidth and low latency.

The Meraki MR57 is a cloud-managed device featuring gigabit speeds. It offers radio optimization with multi-antenna MU-MIMO support and measures local metrics, including visit lengths and repeat visit rates so that administrators can measure performance across different campus locations over time.

Cisco also expanded its own line of silicon to power its Catalyst switches. Silicon One, its own ASIC architecture launched in December 2019, was its attempt to create a single silicon architecture that could be used in multiple products across the network. It was previously only available in service provider switches and routers, but now it will be available in its enterprise-class products, the company said.

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This brings 400 Gbit capabilities into lower form-factor devices for enterprise campus environments with lower power demands, executives said.

The first products to get it are the Catalyst 9500X and 9600X switches, also announced on Thursday.

Cisco has already made forays into more immersive interfaces for hybrid workers. It recently announced plans for augmented reality capabilities in its Webex conferencing platform. Participants could see hologram-like video of each other using augmented reality headsets, it said.

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