The devices fill a significant hole in Cisco's product line, enabling the company to compete in the market for flexible networking equipment that can be combined with other gear as a network layout changes.
Cisco executives said the company's entrant will compete with the SuperStack II 3300 device from 3Com and the BayStack 450T from Nortel Networks, among others.
Features of the so-called Catalyst 3500XL line include stacking capabilities and new clustering capabilities that allow the devices to work in conjunction with Cisco's 1900 and 2900 switching series. The new product also allows users to manage several devices through a single Internet protocol (IP) address.
The benefit of the new switches is that a manager can build larger networks using versatile "stackable" network equipment, according to Bill Rossi, director of marketing for Cisco's desktop switching business unit.
The new Catalyst 3500XL line is available now with prices starting at $2,495. A gigabit-speed Ethernet connector will be available next month.