Cat OS on the way out?

I'm really close to registering for the CCNA. I feel I have a good grasp of the topic areas that are tested on. However, I've seen on the job, switch/routers (6509) with the cisco IOS and CAT ios. Excuse my ignorance, but is the cat os growing popularity, or on the way out? I haven't seen any cat os commands in my ccna studies, so I'm wondering if its just a ccnp+ topic or if its dying off?



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Tricky question, and I'll be interested to see the responses from the more Cisco aligned guys. I'm not sure on the official political answer, but CatOS remains a major portion of enterprise class hardware, particularly 6500 series chassis and many below. While these models do support native IOS which runs IOS for both routing and switching, there is a pretty strong customer base who likes to have switching and routing capabilities split up as lines of demarcation. Additionally, so many folks are accustomed to CatOS configuration, native IOS can be challenging. I do see a financial reason for Cisco to ditch CatOS, as well as making it easier for new engineers to learn on only one platform, but I also use CatOS every day and I do like its separation and the logic of the commands (probably just due to sheer experience). In your situation, I would become familiar with both, as I don't see CatOS 'going away' anytime in the near future.......

That being said, I'd be interested to see the official Cisco stance on the subject......

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CatOS is still around on some older boxes (we have a few 5500's on the network) but it's definately on it's way out. If you have a 6509 with CatOS (and IOS on the MSFC .. a hybrid system) you can convert it to native IOS. However I wouldn't worry too much because it's not on the CCNA and it wasn't back in 1999 when I first did mine. As far as I can remember the only swtich you do on CCNA is the 1900 (or at least it was).

It's still good to know though as if you work in the Cisco field you are likely to come across a box with CatOS at sometime.


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I would agree with the above...but probably more in regards to smaller/ medium sized businesses. I have worked for a decade in extremely large enterprises (global fortune 100), and CatOS is the dominant switching backbone for all internal environments. I won't say that we don't continually experiment with Native IOS and do have some in our environments, but CatOS is very much alive and kicking, and I don't see Cisco getting rid of it with companies our size using it extensively. But I definitely agree with Chris that it should not concern you in regards to the NA. IOS switches are great for remote offices, retail locations, or user switches, but most of the large cores and backbones (that I have seen) continue to rely on CatOS. However, I don't see any reason why native IOS would not support these environments, its just CatOS has been such a staple of core architectures for so long....hesitance to migrate I suppose....especially when its working fine. I would think that there will be a shift to IOS in the next few years for even these environments.

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Last time I checked, there were a number of 6500 modules that were not supported by the native IOS implementations. I've got a couple of 6513s at work with

8-port T1 and 24-port FXS modules in them, used for VOIP implementation with Cisco CallManager. These work fine under catos, not supported yet under IOS.
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Mike Dorn

According to our Cisco Sales Engineer, CatOS 8.x will be the last major revision but there are no plans to drop support or get rid of CatOS anytime soon.


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I think only 6500 series uses CatOS nowadays. CatOS is the recommended selection for certain parts of the network eg.access. maybe because it gets features faster than IOS in certain areas? maybe because it already had more features than IOS?

I guess in the future there will be no catos, as it has already happened for the 45xx line Maybe this is the reason for splitting 7600 from 6500? see releases

12.2SR vs 12.2SX

On the other hand catos is pretty nice. It supported something like "interface range" a lot earlier than IOS and it's a very useful feature. Also eg. it's very easy to lockout yourself in IOS. if you use eg."switchport trunk allowed vlan 134" instead of "switchport allowed vlan add 134"


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