Problems with Catalyst 9000 Switches

Cisco Catalyst 9000 Switches As an IT manager, your responsibility is to implement technology that streamlines the technology infrastructure within your business.

This is especially true of the components of your network, which can play a significant role in the speed and efficiency of critical systems. 

Before implementing a new solution, such as a switch, it only makes sense to research it. 

At The KR Group, we understand just how important it is for you to know a new device will meet your needs and work in your environment. 

When it comes to switches, our recent recommendations come from Cisco’s Catalyst 9000 series. 

You can find a list of benefits in this previous article. However, we also want to make you aware of potential problems you may face with these solutions and, ultimately, give you the information to make a decision. 

Here are three problems you’ll want to keep in mind: 

  1. DNA Center is required
  2. License differences can be confusing
  3. Stacking limitations among models

These problems don’t necessarily have to prevent you from investing in Catalyst switches. We’ll review the issues and explain if they could apply to you, but you’ll also find solutions.

Problem: DNA Center License Is Required for Catalyst 9000 Switches

When you purchase a Catalyst 9000 switch, you’re also required to buy at least 3 years of DNA Center Licensing. Cisco Catalyst 9000 Switches

This component is designed to automate and streamline your organization’s network. By providing insights on performance, interference, and application experience, you should notice you’re spending less time managing your network.

The problem is if you aren’t interested in using DNA Center and prefer to configure at the command line level instead, you’ll still be paying for the license. 

There are a few ways to solve this problem: 

Solution #1: Learn How to Use DNA Center

If you’re committed to using a Cisco Catalyst 9000 switch, the best solution is to learn how to use DNA Center. 

The system has useful features, such as increased uptime, effective monitoring, and embedded security. 

Once the three years of your licensing agreement are up, you can choose if you renew it or not. 

Solution #2: Don’t Use DNA Center

Of course, there is no one forcing you to implement and use DNA Center. 

While you’re required to purchase the system, how much you utilize it is up to you. 

If you’re committed to using a Cisco 9000 Catalyst Switch, you can still buy the hardware and software but use it as the previous line of switches. 

Solution #3: Use a Different Product

On the other hand, if you aren’t set on using Cisco switches, you could look at other switch vendors. 

If you opt for this choice, you should consider working with an IT consultant to ensure the gear you purchase will work in your existing environment and meet your networking needs. 

Keep in mind that if you choose a different product, the features and capabilities will differ, but there are other options out there if you don’t want to purchase software licenses.

Problem: Figuring Out the Right Licensing

Cisco Catalyst 9000 Switches Now that you understand you must purchase an accompanying license with your Catalyst switch, let’s talk about the following problem: Picking the correct license. 

When it comes to licensing your new Catalyst 9000 series switch, you need to buy one for the hardware and one for DNA Center. 

Your hardware license options are also named Advantage and Essentials. They grant you access to your switches’ centralized management and control components.

If you opt for a DNA Essentials license, you’ll need to purchase the Networking Essentials license. But when you purchase DNA Advantage or DNA Premier, you’ll need the Networking Advantage license. 

(You can find a detailed breakdown of the features of all of these licenses in this document from Cisco.) 

So how do you know for certain you pick the correct licenses and bring clarity to your purchase order? 

Solution: Work with a Cisco VAR 

A VAR (short for value-added reseller) brings clarity to the purchase (and implementation) process. 

By assessing your current infrastructure and interviewing you to learn about your organization’s specific needs, they will find a recommendation that meets your tech, budget, and management needs. 

VARs also go through rigorous training to become certified and eligible to sell and implement their products. By working with one, you’ll have instant access to expertise that would take you years to accumulate on your own. 

Problem: Catalyst 9000 Switches Have Stacking Limitations

Another confusing – and thus problematic — aspect of the Catalyst 9000 series switches is their stacking limitations. Cisco Catalyst 9000 Switches

Within the Catalyst 9000 family, there are five series of switches. Each series has multiple SKU options with various combinations of fixed vs. modular, licensing, power, network, SSD storage, etc. 

All these options are a benefit because you can find a device that seamlessly integrates into your network. 

However, it’s a problem when you want to stack switches since you’ll have to purchase stackable models with each other. Also, with so many options, it can be difficult to narrow down if your switches are stackable or not. 

Solution: Ask for Your VAR’s Help

It might sound like we’re repeating ourselves, but working with a VAR truly is the best way to ensure you’re getting the solutions that work for your environment the first time around. 

You are more than welcome to look through the list of different switch models in the Catalyst 9000 family. However, your best bet to avoid mistakes or mix-ups is to leave it to your VAR that orders Cisco devices daily.

Is the Catalyst 9000 Family of Switches Right for You? 

Overall, the Catalyst 9000 switches operate well and meet your networking needs. 

If you already use DNA Center or plan to, the devices are built with that integration in mind. 

As long as you work with a VAR, you should pick the right solution out of the various options and know how to utilize it in your IT environment. 

You could start to feel frustrated about the Catalyst switches if you are opposed to paying and using Cisco DNA Center or don’t have a relationship with a Cisco VAR. However, both of those problems have solutions so that you can find the proper switching hardware for your organization. 

Still unsure if this solution would work for you? For more information about the Catalyst 9000 series, check out this e-book from Cisco.

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