Cisco Catalyst 9000: Intent-Based Networking

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Published 24-Oct-2019 11:25:42

Cisco has been a leading name in networking innovation for some time now and with its DNA (Digital Network Architecture), the vendor has helped establish a new era of intent-based networking. Cisco’s Catalyst 9000 Series switches are designed to work within Cisco DNA to enable businesses to tackle the demands of increased mobility and cloud computing, whilst meeting the challenge of new security threats.

We explore the key benefits of Cisco Catalyst 9000 Series network switches and why growing businesses should embrace software-defined access (SD-Access).

The modern era of networking: software-defined access

Cisco has ushered in a new era of networking, based on software-defined access, that’s more flexible, scalable and intuitive. In this modern era of IT networking, Cisco solutions provide access to any application, without compromising on security, thanks to greater network visibility.

Cisco Software-Defined Access (SD-Access) eases your network management worries, offering a single network fabric, from the edge to the cloud. It boasts automated segmentation capabilities for users, devices and applications, allowing IT teams to deploy and secure services faster. And you can set policy-based automation for users, devices and IoT.

Catalyst 9000 switches are designed specifically for SD-access. Built on Open IOS-XE, these next-gen network switches provide cloud and DevOps-ready innovations. This modern operating system is programmable with standard APIs and open to third-party applications. 

Cisco’s software-defined approach supports businesses embracing the changing networking landscape. Catalyst 3850, 3650, 4000 Series users are supported until at least 2025 and the platforms are compatible, meaning users can benefit from certain SD-access benefits, such as DNA Centre management. Upgrading to the Catalyst 9000 Series unlocks the full benefits of Cisco’s software-defined networking capabilities, such as Encrypted Traffic Analytics (ETA), Fabric Flow and IoT Endpoint Profiling.

Intuitive networks and intent-based networking (IBN)

Intent-based networking systems (IBNS) help IT teams to monitor, identify and react in real-time to changing network conditions. The need for intuitive networks stems from ever-increasing network complexity, caused by more users, devices and applications. Intent-based networking allows IT teams to automate processes, enabling the network to detect intent and better manage complex data.

Intent-based networking is also focused on context, with which intuitive networks can effectively interpret data to provide insights around the who, what, when, where and how. Interpreting context equates to more customised experiences, faster operations and tighter security. Cisco uses the vast amount of data flowing through its networks to provide actionable, predictive insights for customers. It’s machine-learning at scale.

Gartner states that the biggest benefits offered by IBNS are the improvements in network agility and availability, plus the unified intent established across multiple infrastructures. Cisco intent-based networking solutions deliver an 85% increase in network provisioning speed, with 50% fewer outages.

Learn more about intuitive networks and other key statistics here: Why Consider Intuitive Networks?

The transformative impact of Cisco DNA

Cisco DNA gives IT teams the freedom to run any service anywhere, no matter the underlying platform - physical or virtual, on-premise or in the cloud. The fluid networking architecture learns, adapts and protects to meet modern networking demands. 

Here are some of the benefits of Cisco DNA:

  • Minimises manual operations and human error
  • Reduces operational costs
  • Empowers cloud, mobile and IoT strategies
  • Proactively monitors, predicts and addresses any impact on service levels
  • Detects issues and learns from network threats, including encrypted traffic
  • Future-proofed - businesses can build on existing technology

When combined with the Catalyst 9000 Series switches, Cisco DNA offers a highly-agile and responsive network that’s easier to manage and has the flexibility to adapt to changing demands.

Learn more about Cisco’s Digital Network Architecture: What is Cisco DNA?

Introduction to Catalyst 9000 Series switches

Cisco’s Catalyst 9000 family of switches were designed to meet the demands of increased mobility, cloud computing and IoT, and address the need for sophisticated threat protection. The switches deliver unmatched security, programmability and performance, and offer twice the capacity to support more users and devices for a lower price than previous generations.

Catalyst 9000 switches simplify network management, with the capabilities to continuously adapt, solve new challenges and address new security threats. Users get access to Cisco DNA’s benefits within pre-bundled Cisco ONE software suites or a-la-carte components.

The Catalyst 9000 range of switches at a glance:

  • Catalyst 9200 - best-in-class security and segmentation, enterprise-level resilience and simplicity, and investment protection. Designed for simple branch/mid-market fixed enterprise access deployments.
  • Catalyst 9300 - cloud-ready, industry-leading scale for converged IoT networking and unified access for more operational efficiency. Suitable for business-critical branch and campus environments.
  • Catalyst 9400 - converged wired and wireless modular, multigigabit access switches, built for security, IoT and the cloud. Ideal for business-critical enterprise campus access and distribution.
  • Catalyst 9500 - purpose-built for the enterprise campus and designed for IoT/cloud security, providing high-density advanced networking services. The leading fixed core/aggregation enterprise switching platform.
  • Catalyst 9600 - designed for resiliency at scale, providing comprehensive security and integration with full-stack programmability. The leading modular core/aggregation enterprise switching platform.

Learn more about the Cisco Catalyst 9000 Series here: The Cisco Catalyst 9000 Series Family at a Glance.

The key benefits of Cisco Catalyst 9000 switches 

We outline the main benefits of Cisco’s Catalyst 9000 switches below:

  • Greater visibility - Cisco’s Catalyst 9000 Series delivers exceptional visibility into wired and wireless access networks, converged network services and Encrypted Traffic Analytics for user-operated and IoT devices. This includes automated provisioning, security segmentation and policy management.
  • Enhanced security - Catalyst 9000 switches are purpose-built for Cisco DNA and SD-Access. IT teams get simplified provisioning, maintenance, operations and security. Cisco analytics boast leading malware detection, automated patching capabilities and behavioural analytics to bolster network security and privacy.
  • Programmability and scalability - UADP ASIC and Cisco IOS XE Software support model-driven programmability, enabling faster response to business growth. Change your network at the speed of business.
  • Cloud-ready - from Cisco’s DevOps toolkit, you can use off-the-shelf applications, create and manage applications locally hosted on the switch, and make use of Cisco applications.
  • Virtualisation capabilities - Cisco Universal Power over Ethernet (Cisco UPOE) is the highest-density PoE available. Along with Audio Video Bridging (AVB) and Perpetual PoE, it allows IoT devices to always be powered on and secure for the rest of the network. 
  • Future-proofed - the switches’ flexibility and programmability enable innovation to be added through software updates rather than replacing hardware. The Cisco ONE subscription model gives you automatic and ongoing access to software innovations, so you can switch on new functionality whenever it’s required.

Cisco offers a network switch selector tool to help businesses judge the suitability of different switches for their networking needs. Give it a whirl!


Intent-based networking is the future. With its modern architecture and next-gen switches built for software-defined access, Cisco’s networking solutions learn, adapt, predict and protect. Catalyst 9000 switches are just part of Cisco’s intent-based networking revolution. Cisco is also leading the way in wireless connectivity innovation, thanks to Cisco Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) solutions. The Catalyst 9000 Series family includes Cisco Catalyst 9100 access points and Cisco Catalyst 9800 controllers. 

Catalyst 9800 controllers are compatible with Catalyst 9100 access points and offer RF excellence with IOS XE benefits. They offer increased density, connect more devices at higher throughputs and delivering four times the performance of 802.11 ac and up to 50% reduction in latency. The Wi-Fi 6 access points enable businesses to address the challenges of the next generation's network.

Take a look at Cisco’s Cat9k Solutions

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