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What You Need to Know About Catalyst 6800ia?

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If you are familiar with Nexus 2K in datacenter, let’s meet its counterpart for wiring closet. Cisco Catalyst 6800ia Instant Access has been introduced to fulfill the need of those that use 6500/6800 switches for user access, especially the 6500 knowing that all the its PoE linecards (61xx,63xx,65xx) have become End-of-Sale (EoS). Here is some critical information that will help you decide if 6800ia is right for your environment.
Cisco Catalyse 6800ia
Hardware Specification
  • 48 x 10/100/1000 ports with 2 x 10G SFP+ uplinks
  • Uplink port currently supports SFP+ SR/LR/LRM (check Cisco document for latest update)
  • Capable of stacking 3 switches using 80G FlexStack-Plus with maximum of 6 uplinks.
    • Note the same technology used in 2960X. In fact, the stack cables are interchangeable
  • Two model available (as of October 2013)
    • C6800IA-48FPD (PoE) (US$9000 List)
    • C6800IA-48TD (Non-PoE) (US$7000 List)
  • 740W PoE budget per switch with single power source
    • Up to 24 PoE+ or 48 PoE ports (No UPoE)
  • Single non-modular power supply with External RPS Support
What Parent Switch is Supported?
Catalyst 6500E Chassis 
  • SUP2T and WS-X6904-40G-2T using FourX Converter Module (CVR-CFP-4SFP10G)
  • Prepare to upgrade your supervisor and buy new linecards
  • If you do not even have E-Chassis, you might instead look into the options below which could be less expensive
Catalyst 6880-X
  • Supported on both built-in 10G port and 16-Port 10G module
  • Probably the least expensive but without Supervisor redundancy
Catalyst 6807-XL
  • SUP2T and WS-X6904-40G-2T using FourX Converter Module (CVR-CFP-4SFP10G)
  • Same as 1 but with brand new chassis
  • More linecard may be supported as Cisco releases the next generation of linecard
Note: All options will result in 2:1 oversubscription (ie. 160G to 80G) on the 6800ia uplinks as each linecard only have 80G fabric channel. Line-rate can be achieved by disabling half of the 10G ports on the linecard.
How is 6800ia Compared to Nexus 2K?
  • Configuration performed on parent switch
  • No local switching. All traffic must be switches/routed through parent switch, although support local multicast traffic replication.
  • Can be dual-homed, but using VSS instead of vPC
  • Support PoE/PoE+
  • Other switches can be connected to user-facing ports (ie. support STP)
Other Considerations
  • Required IP Services with minimum IOS 15.0(1)SY1
  • All features are inherited from the parent switch (eg. MPLS, EVN, SGT,SGACL, IPv6, MACSec)
  • Currently support up to 21 IA switches, 1008 ports, and 12 switch stacks per deployment
  • Support port-channel between IA stack member, but not between stack (FCS)
In summary, if you are attached to using 6500 product line in your wiring closet, 6800IA is probably the only option you have today for PoE ports but the upgrade cost to Sup2T and 6904-40G can be costly. In which case, you might want to look into 6880-X for lower cost and smaller form factor if you can tolerate no Supervisor redundancy. In smaller environment that requires an all-in-one solution, 6807 provides future-proof option that will also let you leverage 220Gbps/slot for server connectivity when the supported linecards come out. Otherwise, exploring other user access switch solutions like 2960X, 3650, 3850, or even 4500 for chassis-base may not be such a bad idea. 

About Author

Metha Cheiwanichakorn, CCIE#23585 (RS, Sec, SP), is a Cisco networking enthusiast with years of experience in the industry. He is currently working as a consulting engineer for a Cisco partner. As a founder of and an instructor at, Metha enjoys learning and challenges himself with new Cisco technologies.

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