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Network Switches Vendor Comparison

How Cisco stacks up to the switching competition

Compare network switches from HPE, Huawei, and Arista to Cisco switching solutions. With multiple innovations like Multigigabit, Application Visibility and Control (AVC), and integrated security, Cisco switches offer more capabilities for your wired and wireless networks

5/5

Cisco

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Huawei

Arista

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Innovations

Investment protection with custom siliconCisco custom silicon helps ensure enterprise feature robustness, platform longevity, and investment protection. Multiple vendor acquisition history makes the product lines inconsistent, with short life spans. A majority of switching platforms are merchant silicon-based, with limited flexibility. Huawei ENP and Solar lags in terms of capability when compared with the Cisco UADP. Huawei is missing high-speed stacking interface, lacks performance and flexibility, lacks packet-processing flexibility, and is short on full visibility of data flows.Relies on merchant silicon used by others, providing no additional competitive differentiation.
Cisco custom silicon helps ensure enterprise feature robustness, platform longevity, and investment protection. Multiple vendor acquisition history makes the product lines inconsistent, with short life spans. A majority of switching platforms are merchant silicon-based, with limited flexibility. Huawei ENP and Solar lags in terms of capability when compared with the Cisco UADP. Huawei is missing high-speed stacking interface, lacks performance and flexibility, lacks packet-processing flexibility, and is short on full visibility of data flows.Relies on merchant silicon used by others, providing no additional competitive differentiation.
Investment protection with common chassis and higher performance with supervisor upgradeCatalyst 9400X: Provides industry-leading 90W Universal Power over Ethernet (UPOE+) and multigigabit-scale while maintaining investment protection by upgrading to the C9400X-SUP-2/2XL supervisor. Catalyst 9600X: Provides pathway to higher bandwidth with the industry's first 400G campus switch, WAN MACsec, VOQ architecture for enhanced queueing and backward compatibility.Single chassis with no supervisor upgrade possible.Future supervisor upgrades possible.Relies on two-box solution by offering data center switches in campus.
Catalyst 9400X: Provides industry-leading 90W Universal Power over Ethernet (UPOE+) and multigigabit-scale while maintaining investment protection by upgrading to the C9400X-SUP-2/2XL supervisor. Catalyst 9600X: Provides pathway to higher bandwidth with the industry's first 400G campus switch, WAN MACsec, VOQ architecture for enhanced queueing and backward compatibility.Single chassis with no supervisor upgrade possible.Future supervisor upgrades possible.Relies on two-box solution by offering data center switches in campus.
Branch in a box with 100G hardware based IPsecCatalyst 9300X models support 100G, IKEv2 open standards-based IPsec encryption on the hardware with no impact on performance. These models support new use cases for branch-to-cloud connectivity and site-to-site IPsec. Customers can not only connect their lean branches securely to other branches or campus environments but also provision secure tunnels directly from Catalyst 9300X to multicloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure to access native applications or workloads securely. No equivalent offering for campus switching.No equivalent offering for campus switching.No equivalent offering for campus switching.
Catalyst 9300X models support 100G, IKEv2 open standards-based IPsec encryption on the hardware with no impact on performance. These models support new use cases for branch-to-cloud connectivity and site-to-site IPsec. Customers can not only connect their lean branches securely to other branches or campus environments but also provision secure tunnels directly from Catalyst 9300X to multicloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure to access native applications or workloads securely. No equivalent offering for campus switching.No equivalent offering for campus switching.No equivalent offering for campus switching.
Multigigabit technologyCisco Multigigabit Technology can prepare access networks for future innovations by delivering speeds of 1G, 2.5G, 5G, and as much as 10G on existing Category 5e and 6 cables. Cisco also offers PoE and UPOE+ across the same port, up to 90W UPOE+.HPE offers equivalent multigigabit technology, Smart Rate, which is limited to a couple of product platforms and a limited number of ports.Multigigabit up to 2.5G only in some switch models.Multigigabit up to 2.5G and 5G in some switch models.
Cisco Multigigabit Technology can prepare access networks for future innovations by delivering speeds of 1G, 2.5G, 5G, and as much as 10G on existing Category 5e and 6 cables. Cisco also offers PoE and UPOE+ across the same port, up to 90W UPOE+.HPE offers equivalent multigigabit technology, Smart Rate, which is limited to a couple of product platforms and a limited number of ports.Multigigabit up to 2.5G only in some switch models.Multigigabit up to 2.5G and 5G in some switch models.
Powering smart buildingsCatalyst 9000 expands value for smart buildings. No new license needed; bundled into Cisco DNA Advantage. Includes the cloud software, the connector, and support. Full-stack offering, including Cisco DNA Center zero trust, segmentation, and PoE assurance. Existing Catalyst 9000 switches supported.No 90W PoE platforms, no IoT gateways supported on Aruba Campus SwitchesNo smart buildings ecosystemNo 90W PoE platforms, no IoT gateways supported on Arista campus switches.
Catalyst 9000 expands value for smart buildings. No new license needed; bundled into Cisco DNA Advantage. Includes the cloud software, the connector, and support. Full-stack offering, including Cisco DNA Center zero trust, segmentation, and PoE assurance. Existing Catalyst 9000 switches supported.No 90W PoE platforms, no IoT gateways supported on Aruba Campus SwitchesNo smart buildings ecosystemNo 90W PoE platforms, no IoT gateways supported on Arista campus switches.
Smart building ecosystemFull smart building ecosystem with an IOT gateway on Catalyst 9000 and Cisco DNA Spaces in the cloud.
Full smart building ecosystem with an IOT gateway on Catalyst 9000 and Cisco DNA Spaces in the cloud.
Monitoring by endpoint typeCisco can use analytics to monitor behavior with Cisco Secure Network Analytics (formerly Cisco Stealthwatch) and NetFlow, and classify traffic on the edge and inside the network with TrustSec.Aruba offers very limited functionality. Tunneled Node is offered as a catch-all solution that cannot scale.iPCA is offered as an option but provides limited platform support and visibility.Network detection and response (NDR) capability supported with only 720XP switches acting as sensors.
Cisco can use analytics to monitor behavior with Cisco Secure Network Analytics (formerly Cisco Stealthwatch) and NetFlow, and classify traffic on the edge and inside the network with TrustSec.Aruba offers very limited functionality. Tunneled Node is offered as a catch-all solution that cannot scale.iPCA is offered as an option but provides limited platform support and visibility.Network detection and response (NDR) capability supported with only 720XP switches acting as sensors.
Wired assurance with MREWired assurance use cases around PoE analytics (power supply starvation, power supply missing, PoE analytics around PoE power overdrawn, PoE insights, etc.), Cisco StackWise technology, application experience, AI/ML analytics and machine reasoning for a vast set of wired issues.Aruba offers very limited functionality with AI Insights.Huawei relies on different tools with limited wired assurance.No advanced capabilities in  guided remediation or root-cause analysis for wired infrastructure.
Wired assurance use cases around PoE analytics (power supply starvation, power supply missing, PoE analytics around PoE power overdrawn, PoE insights, etc.), Cisco StackWise technology, application experience, AI/ML analytics and machine reasoning for a vast set of wired issues.Aruba offers very limited functionality with AI Insights.Huawei relies on different tools with limited wired assurance.No advanced capabilities in  guided remediation or root-cause analysis for wired infrastructure.
Application VisibilityCisco can support Flexible NetFlow, IPFIX along with NBAR2-DPI Engine resident on Catalyst 9200 to Catalyst 9400 to provide line-rate and accurate application identification and analytics.Aruba switches do not support DPI Engine. sFlow supported.sFlow and IPFIX supported. No DPI Engine.
Cisco can support Flexible NetFlow, IPFIX along with NBAR2-DPI Engine resident on Catalyst 9200 to Catalyst 9400 to provide line-rate and accurate application identification and analytics.Aruba switches do not support DPI Engine. sFlow supported. sFlow and IPFIX supported. No DPI Engine.

Agility

Single OS across campus domainsCommon foundation with Cisco IOS XE across Cisco Catalyst 9000 switching, wireless, and routing for total system visibility and control.Separate campus switching, wireless, and routing OSs.Separate campus switching, wireless, and routing OSs.Separate Campus Switching, wireless and routing OSs.
Common foundation with Cisco IOS XE across Cisco Catalyst 9000 switching, wireless, and routing for total system visibility and control.Separate campus switching, wireless, and routing OSs.Separate campus switching, wireless, and routing OSs.Separate Campus Switching, wireless and routing OSs.
Device-level programmability and automationCisco IOS XE supports DevOps toolkit, NETCONF/YANG models, gNMI, gNOI, gRPC, OpenConfig, YANG where each and every programmatic access option is available.Only REST API-based automation.NETCONF supported.
Cisco IOS XE supports DevOps toolkit, NETCONF/YANG models, gNMI, gNOI, gRPC, OpenConfig, YANG where each and every programmatic access option is available.Only REST API-based automation.NETCONF supported.
Cisco ThousandEyes IntegrationFaster time to value: Cisco ThousandEyes vantage points are now embedded, delivering immediate visibility with zero deployment. Ability to leverage existing switches; the Cisco ThousandEyes solution is included with all Cisco DNA Advantage licenses.
Faster time to value: Cisco ThousandEyes vantage points are now embedded, delivering immediate visibility with zero deployment. Ability to leverage existing switches; the Cisco ThousandEyes solution is included with all Cisco DNA Advantage licenses.
Application hosting frameworkApplication hosting opens up new strategic capabilities with Catalyst 9000 switches that have enabled a rich ecosystem partnership of 25+ certified apps and 200+ active customers (Kibana, perfSONAR, TrapX Security, Cybervision, CodiLime IPsec app, etc.).No resource protection. No centralized dashboard for easier deployment.
Application hosting opens up new strategic capabilities with Catalyst 9000 switches that have enabled a rich ecosystem partnership of 25+ certified apps and 200+ active customers (Kibana, perfSONAR, TrapX Security, Cybervision, CodiLime IPsec app, etc.). No resource protection. No centralized dashboard for easier deployment.
High availabilityCisco switches offer innovative resiliency features such as ISSU, GIR, Extended Fast Software Upgrade (xFSU), redundant hot-swappable power supplies and fans, and N+1 chassis redundancy with Cisco StackWise-1T physical stacks and 1+1 virtual stack redundancy with Cisco StackWise Virtual. No xFSU, stacking power aggregation, patching, or dedicated 1-Tbps stacking. No single-chassis ISSU, as VSX Live Upgrade is available but not yet proven. No Quad-Sup RPR.No xFSU, no stacking power aggregation, or dedicated 1-Tbps stacking. No single-chassis ISSU.No xFSU, no stacking power aggregation, or dedicated 1-Tbps stacking. MLAG ISSU currently not supported for complex MLAG provisioning. No single-chassis ISSU.
Cisco switches offer innovative resiliency features such as ISSU, GIR, Extended Fast Software Upgrade (xFSU), redundant hot-swappable power supplies and fans, and N+1 chassis redundancy with Cisco StackWise-1T physical stacks and 1+1 virtual stack redundancy with Cisco StackWise Virtual. No xFSU, stacking power aggregation, patching, or dedicated 1-Tbps stacking. No single-chassis ISSU, as VSX Live Upgrade is available but not yet proven. No Quad-Sup RPR.No xFSU, no stacking power aggregation, or dedicated 1-Tbps stacking. No single-chassis ISSU.No xFSU, no stacking power aggregation, or dedicated 1-Tbps stacking. MLAG ISSU currently not supported for complex MLAG provisioning. No single-chassis ISSU.
Power resilience for IoT and other devicesCisco offers Perpetual PoE and Fast PoE and 90W UPOE+ and provides multiple-level redundancy through StackWise-480 technology and StackWise Virtual technology.HPE offers 30W/60W PoE support and supplies 1:1 power redundancy via dual power supplies supported on some switches. No advanced power-resiliency feature sets available.Huawei supports PoE and PoE+ PoH (95W) on S5700 switches. Power redundancy is 1:1 PoH (power over HDMI) (95W) on a single platform.Arista offers 30W/60W PoE support and supplies 1:1 power redundancy via dual power supplies with no complete suite of advanced power resiliency feature sets.
Cisco offers Perpetual PoE and Fast PoE and 90W UPOE+ and provides multiple-level redundancy through StackWise-480 technology and StackWise Virtual technology.HPE offers 30W/60W PoE support and supplies 1:1 power redundancy via dual power supplies supported on some switches. No advanced power-resiliency feature sets available.Huawei supports PoE and PoE+ PoH (95W) on S5700 switches. Power redundancy is 1:1 PoH (power over HDMI) (95W) on a single platform.Arista offers 30W/60W PoE support and supplies 1:1 power redundancy via dual power supplies with no complete suite of advanced power resiliency feature sets.

Security

Secure InfrastructureTrustworthy solutions technologies such as image signing, secure boot, Cisco Trust Anchor module, and runtime defenses help ensure that the code running on Cisco hardware platforms is authentic, unmodified, and operating as intended. A hardware-level root of trust, unique device identity, and validation of all levels of software during startup establish a chain of trust for the system.TPM Module is supported. Secure Boot is disabled by default on a few platforms.TPM Module is supported. Secure Boot is disabled by default on a few platforms.
Trustworthy solutions technologies such as image signing, secure boot, Cisco Trust Anchor module, and runtime defenses help ensure that the code running on Cisco hardware platforms is authentic, unmodified, and operating as intended. A hardware-level root of trust, unique device identity, and validation of all levels of software during startup establish a chain of trust for the system. TPM Module is supported. Secure Boot is disabled by default on a few platforms.TPM Module is supported. Secure Boot is disabled by default on a few platforms.
Secure TransportMACsec is the IEEE 802.1AE standard for authenticating and encrypting packets between two MACsec-capable devices. Catalyst switches support 802.1AE encryption with MACsec Key Agreement (MKA) on switch-to-host links for encryption between the switch and host device. The switch also supports MACsec encryption for switch-to-switch (inter-network device) security using both Cisco TrustSec Network Device Admission Control (NDAC), Security Association Protocol (SAP) and MKA-based key exchange protocol. With the new 2.0Sec UADP ASIC, the Catalyst 9300X comes with 100G line-rate IPsec to enable various options for new edge connectivity. Enhanced security with WAN MACsec on Catalyst 9000X Core platforms.MACsec-256 is supported on a few platforms. Only software-based IPsec is supported and is not equivalent to 100G hardware-based IPsec.MACsec-256 is supported on just one platform - 722XP
MACsec is the IEEE 802.1AE standard for authenticating and encrypting packets between two MACsec-capable devices. Catalyst switches support 802.1AE encryption with MACsec Key Agreement (MKA) on switch-to-host links for encryption between the switch and host device. The switch also supports MACsec encryption for switch-to-switch (inter-network device) security using both Cisco TrustSec Network Device Admission Control (NDAC), Security Association Protocol (SAP) and MKA-based key exchange protocol. With the new 2.0Sec UADP ASIC, the Catalyst 9300X comes with 100G line-rate IPsec to enable various options for new edge connectivity. Enhanced security with WAN MACsec on Catalyst 9000X Core platforms. MACsec-256 is supported on a few platforms. Only software-based IPsec is supported and is not equivalent to 100G hardware-based IPsec.MACsec-256 is supported on just one platform - 722XP
Zero Trust AssessmentAs part of Cisco Zero Trust, Catalyst 9000 switches run security scans flagging weak credentials and open ports. Cisco AI Endpoint Analytics actively probes endpoints and detects unauthorized ports.Only 720XP Series switches support NDR sensor capability.
As part of Cisco Zero Trust, Catalyst 9000 switches run security scans flagging weak credentials and open ports. Cisco AI Endpoint Analytics actively probes endpoints and detects unauthorized ports. Only 720XP Series switches support NDR sensor capability.
Integrated securityCisco switches offer advanced security features, such as Cisco TrustSec segementation, network as a service (NaaS), Cisco Network Security Analytics (formerly Stealthwatch), Cisco Identity Services Engine, Encrypted Traffic Analytics, network as an enforcer (NaaE), and mDNS gateway, and MACsec-256 link encryption. Huawei says ECA is supported.
Cisco switches offer advanced security features, such as Cisco TrustSec segementation, network as a service (NaaS), Cisco Network Security Analytics (formerly Stealthwatch), Cisco Identity Services Engine, Encrypted Traffic Analytics, network as an enforcer (NaaE), and mDNS gateway, and MACsec-256 link encryption. Huawei says ECA is supported.
Intent-based networking for availability, agility, and policy segmentationOffers centralize and automate network design, policy, and provisioning of all wired and wireless networks.Aruba Dynamic Segmentation has limited automated capabilities for provisioning and group-based policy enforcement.Huawei does not support turnkey automation capabilities for provisioning and group-based policy enforcement.Arista does not support turnkey automation capabilities for provisioning or group-based policy enforcement.
Offers centralize and automate network design, policy, and provisioning of all wired and wireless networks.Aruba Dynamic Segmentation has limited automated capabilities for provisioning and group-based policy enforcement.Huawei does not support turnkey automation capabilities for provisioning and group-based policy enforcement.Arista does not support turnkey automation capabilities for provisioning or group-based policy enforcement.

Updated on June 2022 based on public information.

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Read customer reviews

5/5

"While other vendors may have better single point solutions, Cisco still has a better overall end to end capability when other platforms, such as wireless and WAN, come into the mix."

5/5

"They just don’t compare to anyone else. I don’t think it’s right to compare amateurs to professionals."

5/5

"Catalyst switches are best in class hardware and best in class software. Cisco support is best of breed. The features are more rich than other competing products."

5/5

“We are primarily a Cisco shop. We occasionally compare with other vendors but have found no compelling reasons to change. Cisco routinely leads the way in new developments, customer support, and maintains the concept of separate ASICs for functionality.”