Catalyst Switches

Introduction to Cisco Catalyst Switches
The Cisco Catalyst switch family represents one of the most popular LAN switches on the market today. The Catalyst range is designed to meet the needs of a wide range of customers—from small to medium businesses, right up to large enterprise networks and service providers. Cisco Catalyst switches provide high performance, scalability, manageability, and many other intelligent features that ensure their success to date.

Cisco Catalyst switches can physically described by one of two device types:

Fixed-configuration switch
Chassis-based switch

The fixed-configuration switch consists of a fixed number or ports contained within a fixed chassis that includes an internal switch processor. Some of these devices provide a limited degree of modularity in that they include modular slots that can be populated by variety of different modules. The major advantages of fixed-configuration switches are low cost and ease of deployment. The major disadvantages of a fixed-configuration switch are a lack of flexibility and the introduction of a multiple management points in the network when installing more than one switch. Scaling the network by introducing multiple fixed-configuration switches can also introduce bottlenecks between each switch.

The chassis-based switch provides a chassis as a starting point, after which you can add the various components of the switch as you require. You can determine a particular type of switch processor and switching module, and then install these options. Chassis-based switches provide slots, which support various types of modules. The major advantages of chassis-based switches include high performance, flexibility, simplified management, and extended product lifetime. Chassis-based switches also commonly offer redundancy features to ensure the failure of a module, power supply, or other component does not cause a network outage. The major disadvantage of chassis-based switches is the high cost involved.

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