The future of work is hybrid, says Cisco, so here's Wi-Fi 6E access points and Private 5G

'The remote worker will no longer be a minority'

Cisco has rolled out new technologies including Wi-Fi 6E access points and Private 5G services to help organisations adapt to hybrid work scenarios.

Businesses of all sizes have had to adjust to major transitions over the past two years, and these have reshaped IT plans and operations. Adopting a hybrid work strategy with staff working from home, at the office, or anywhere calls for ubiquitous wireless connectivity, Switchzilla says.

But what is hybrid work? In a blog post, Greg Dorai, VP for Cisco's secure-access product portfolio, said that every organisation has to define what it means for them.

"A big difference from before the pandemic is that the remote worker will no longer be a minority," he said. This means that organisations will need infrastructure to handle a greater level of rich video traffic, and need to consider what kind of a network will be required to deliver this and enable the best experience.

To address these requirements, Cisco has released a bunch of new solutions. These comprise a pair of Wi-Fi 6E access points, the Catalyst 9136 and Meraki MR57; a Private 5G managed service for enterprises; and new Catalyst 9000X switch models based on its Silicon One Q200 chip.

Cisco claims that its Private 5G service will be different from rival solutions in that it will integrate with a customer's Wi-Fi and IT operations environments. Rather than deploying a carrier-centric 5G solution, Cisco also states it will handle all the complexities of the mobile network stack, and provide a simple management portal that integrates with existing enterprise tools.

However, the managed service will also be delivered through service provider and technology partners, whose first task will be to perform a site survey to scope out the required networking and radio coverage, Cisco said. It will be delivered on a "pay-as-you-use" model that minimises upfront infrastructure costs, while the monthly subscription includes 24/7 support and upgrades.

Wi-Fi 6E adds support for frequencies in the 6GHz portion of the spectrum, providing gigabit speeds and greater throughput.

The Catalyst 9136 is an enterprise-class access point built for large-scale deployments. It supports features such as band steering, which automatically switches Wi-Fi 6E devices to the 6GHz band, freeing the 2.4 and 5GHz bands for other devices, and intelligent power management that will adjust to the number of wireless clients connected.

On the other hand, the Meraki MR57 is aimed more at environments with "a highly dynamic hybrid workforce," which appears to mean offices, schools, hospitals, retail shops, and hotels. Like other Meraki products, it is managed via a cloud-hosted dashboard that enables rapid deployment management of devices across highly distributed networks.

On the switch side, the new Catalyst 9000X models are based on the Cisco Silicon One chip architecture, originally deployed in kit for web scale and service provider networks, but now also powering enterprise switches. The new silicon provides the bandwidth capacity and scale needed to support 100G/400G network access for transitions to hybrid work in the campus, according to Cisco. ®

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