Cisco Buying Guide

cisco buying guide

Just about every industry has a handful of big-name companies that consumers have counted on for years. In the IT world, Cisco is one of those names.

On this page, we will walk you through the many Cisco products we carry, from servers and routers to security appliances and network switches. We will also recommend which products might be best for you based on your situation and needs and give you all the resources you need to get up and running with a Cisco system.

About Cisco

To say Cisco is big is an understatement. It ranks No. 58 on Forbes’ Global 2000 list of the world’s largest public companies (as of May 2017), as well as No. 15 on its list of the world’s most valuable brands. Companies don’t often make these lists by accident. To do so, they need to deliver on what they promise, and in Cisco’s case, that means quality products.

Cisco ranks 58th on Forbes Global 2000

At the end of 2016, Cisco had a 57.0 percent share of the global Ethernet switching market, according to market intelligence company IDC, which illustrates how many businesses around the world trust Cisco’s service.

Not content to dominate the networking hardware sector, Cisco began growing its software and services business in recent years, with hopes that software would constitute 27 percent of its revenue by 2020. While it aims to diversify, its strength no doubt lies in hardware, continually setting industry standards for networking and security.

New vs. Refurbished

When making decisions about purchasing various IT and networking solutions, buying new is the ideal option. If you have the budget, buying new hardware is a sound long-term investment that can pay off by way of cost savings down the road. If your company’s goal is to stay on the leading edge of technology, and you have the budget for it, then by all means buying new is the way to go.

buying new Cisco hardware

However, depending on your situation, buying refurbished products can be just as good.

When you purchase hardware through the Cisco Refresh program, you could see up to 20 percent savings versus new products.

Refurbished hardware is also useful if you’re in a time-sensitive situation. Cisco Refresh can cut the lead-time for delivery by up to 77 percent.benefits of Cisco Refresh

Here are some other benefits of Cisco Refresh:

  • Certified protection: Refurbished Cisco products don’t compromise performance or support.
  • Wide selection: We have an inventory of more than 4,000 products.
  • Warranty: Cisco Refresh hardware has the same warranty of equivalent new products and is Smartnet eligible.
  • Fully licensed: The hardware arrives with valid Cisco IOS software.
  • Certified: The products meet all necessary safety compliance and regulatory requirements.
  • Fast shipping: In-stock items ship within 24 hours in most situations.
  • Trust: Cisco Refresh products are only available through Cisco Authorized Partners.


Whether you’re looking for new or refurbished, let’s walk through some of Cisco’s main products across four key categories.

1. Servers

Cisco’s Unified Computing System servers are designed to reduce TCO while also boosting the productivity of IT staff. They integrate network, compute, storage access and virtualization into one system that’s tested, managed and serviced as a whole.

Cisco's Unified Computing Systems

Here is a look at some of the most popular UCS lines.

  • UCS B-Series: The current generation of Cisco’s UCS B-Series Blade Servers come with either two or four sockets and are based on Intel Xeon E7 or E5 processors. The four current models feature between 1.5 and 6 TB of memory, and between 80 and 320 Gbps total bandwidth. The unified fabric of models such as the Cisco UCS B460 M4 server reduces costs because fewer switches and cables are needed. You can also set user thresholds for each blade to optimize environmental management. In addition to the latest B-Sers servers, we also have many other older models in stock that may meet your needs.
  • UCS C-Series: Cisco’s C-Series Rack Servers are designed to deliver industry-standard form to help reduce TCO. There are three current-generation Cisco UCS C-Series Rack Servers — two 2-socket Intel Xeon E5 models, and one 4-socket Intel Xeon E7 model. The Cisco UCS C460 M4 Rack Server can be used as a standalone system or as part of a larger Unified Computing System. It handles things such as real-time financial applications, SAP workloads, server consolidation, data warehousing and Java-based workloads. We also have many other models.
  • UCS E-Series: The E-Series blade servers are data-center class servers meant to reduce cost and size without sacrificing essential networking services. These cut costs because they take less energy to run, and they’re built for application performance. E-Series servers have two form factors to choose from—64-bit service modules for full functionality, or network interface modules for lighter-weight apps and networking services. The Cisco UCS E140D E-Series Server helps ease operational stress with its consolidated and wireless infrastructure, and they don’t require external network cables or physical keyboards. We offer five E-Series servers.

Tailor to Your Needs

Like with any hardware, making a decision on which server is right for you or your business all depends on your needs.

finding the right Cisco server for your needs
  • Home or business: Most servers are for business use, but your decision can still depend on a number of factors. Specs including memory, internal storage and processor speed should all be considered based on how you plan to use the hardware. Of the three UCS servers mentioned, the E-Series models are an excellent solution for branch offices in search of optimal network uptime.
  • New or refurbished: Choosing between new or refurbished servers will again depend on a number of factors, including budget and needs. If you’re set on employing the latest technology in the market, new servers are the way to go. If your needs can be handled by a slightly older server model, then buying refurbished is a great choice. Browse Cisco servers.

2. Routers

Cisco routers are not only designed to make sure you’re ready for the digital era, but that you thrive in it. We have a wide selection of routers available, whether you need something for simple at-home use or multiple complex network services.

For business use, Cisco’s Integrated Service Routers, or branch routers, come with loads of features relating to user experience, automation, security, compliance and virtualization. Its second-generation 2900 series of ISRs are among the most popular models.

Cisco's integrated service routers

Here is an overview of some of the features and benefits:

  • High performance: Maximum throughput up to 350 Mbps, or roughly seven times greater than first-generation models.
  • Network flexibility: Modular interfaces and a variety of connection options allow you to add to your network as needs change.
  • Energy efficiency: High-efficiency power supplies, and the ability to adjust power to modules depending on the time of day.
  • Modular: Several different module slots allow you to upgrade to new technologies without replacing the entire platform.
  • Easy access: USB ports allow connectivity for devices such as laptop computers, in addition to more traditional auxiliary and console ports.
  • Cisco IOS Software: Advanced features are enabled using a software license, versus older generations that required you to download a new software image.

Tailor to Your Needs

Like most Cisco products, its routers come with a wide variety of feature sets to cater to your specific needs.

finding the right Cisco router to meet your needs
  • Home or business: Our selection of Cisco routers runs the gamut. We offer lower-budget models such as the 1751 Router, which includes features such as integrated broadband connectivity and secure access (internet, intranet, extranet) with firewall and VPN. On the other end, we offer top-level Cisco’s Integrated Service Routers, which offer modular flexibility as your business needs evolve.
  • New or refurbished: When it comes to routers, deciding between new and refurbished models can come down to where your business is, and where you plan to take. New current-generation models are more of a long-term investment. Since they’re prepared to evolve as new technologies become available, an investment now will save you money for years to come. On the other hand, refurbished routers can save you money now, as well as in the future. They’ll save you money now because they cost less than brand new hardware, and in the future because you can always mix and match modules. The tradeoff for older models is the router’s lifespan won’t be as long as current-generation hardware. Buy Cisco routers.

3. Security Appliances

Data security is a hot-button issue that has never been more important, and Cisco is at the forefront of innovation in this area. As one example, the company’s ASA 5500 Series Adaptive Security Appliances offer ultra-integrated security solutions for companies of all sizes. The appliances handle a number of services via a unified platform, including content security, high-end firewall, intrusion prevention, VPN and communications security.

Here are some key features of the Cisco ASA 5500 Series:

  • Top-level security: The Cisco ASA 5500 Series handles all facets of security, including anti-virus, anti-spam, app-aware firewall, web filtering, anti-phishing, SSL and VPN services. The hardware also protects from malware and can help boost employee productivity.
  • Integrated services: Modular design allows you to expand security services with additional security service modules or cards. This allows you to customize your security policies as you see fit.
  • Lower operational cost: With security services integrated into a unified platform, Cisco ASA 5500 products can lower costs by reducing the need for deployment if and when security issues arise.

Tailor to Your Needs

Like many Cisco products, its security appliances boast a high level of flexible and customizable features based on your business’ requirements.09-security

  • Home or business: Cisco’s security appliances are frequently used in a professional setting, but are customizable for small businesses all the way up to large corporations. The hardware’s robust options of services and modules help you refine your company’s security policies to help streamline production. Users can easily install modules themselves, meaning you can quickly alter your security infrastructure based on current or expected needs.
  • New or refurbished: Anyone who keeps up with technology news knows how important security is. Every situation is different, but generally speaking the larger your network, the more potential security risks you face. This means many larger businesses opt for the latest generation of Cisco security appliances, knowing they boast the most current features and the peace of mind that comes along. For other businesses, older models of security appliances may be sufficient, and in these cases, refurbished products may be the way to go. Since products under the Cisco Refresh program come along with the same services, functionality and guarantees as new models, refurbished hardware gives you the same level of security as new equipment. Buy Cisco security appliances.

4. Switches

Cisco is an industry leader across many categories, but one of its standout specialties lies in network switches. As mentioned earlier the company claims a commanding 57.0 percent share of the global Ethernet switching market, an indication of worldwide trust in its products.

Cisco's most popular network switches

Here is a quick look at three of Cisco’s most popular lines of network switches — the Catalyst Series, the Edge Series and the Nexus Series.

  • Catalyst Series: The Catalyst Series three styles of switches, LAN access switches, compact LAN switches and LAN core and distribution switches. Here are some examples.

The Catalyst 3650 Series of LAN access switches are designed to deliver improved mobile experiences to both customers and employees. Its top models in this line include 48 Universal Power over Ethernet (UPOE) ports and default 1100 WAC AC power supply.

The Catalyst 2960-CX Series of compact LAN switches allows you to expand your network as needed while offering many of the features of larger switches in a tight package. The switches feature 8-gigabit Ethernet ports and support for up to 124W of PoE budget.

Finally, the Catalyst 6500 Series of LAN core and distribution switches are described as campus backbone switches and feature forwarding capacity between 150 and 720 Mpps. Services include network analysis, wireless support, security and automated operations.

  • Edge Series: Cisco’s Edge Series of switches are meant to be all-encompassing devices for wire or wireless access, media connectivity and consolidated computing. Developers love their open Linux environment that allows them to host vertical applications. In short, Edge Series switches help make your IT infrastructure more modern to improve group communication, collaboration and productivity.

The Edge 300 is the slightly larger of the two available models and runs on a 1.2 GHz single-core, with 2G of memory and 4G of built in storage.

On the other hand, the Edge 340 has a slightly smaller form factor and runs a 1.6 GHz dual-core. It also has 2G of memory and one SD slot rather than built-in storage.

  • Nexus Series: Cisco’s Nexus Series switches are data center-level switches built for cloud networks. One of the most popular models is the Cisco Nexus 1000V virtual switch. It handles cloud security through the Cisco Trusted Security framework. It offers multi-tenant support and functions including routing, firewall and switching. It also has either manual or automated management and configuration options based on your individual needs.

Tailor to Your Needs

As you have likely discovered, Cisco’s switches come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes with varying level of feature sets. While this can make it a bit overwhelming to come to a final decision, you can rest assured there is a switch available that will meet your specific requirements.

  • Home or business: Larger switches such as the Catalyst and Nexus Series are typically used for business purposes and campus networks. The Edge Series switches are much physically smaller devices that can be used at home or for a home business, or as a complement to extend your company’s network to various branches. Finding the perfect match can be a complex process, but as always we’re on hand to help you make the right decision.
  • New or refurbished: Network switches can be pricey endeavors, but you can keep these costs under control with products from the Cisco Refresh program. All Cisco Refresh switches are certified by Cisco, meaning you get the same quality at a lower price. You will always get the same performance and reliability, as well as the same protection and warranty coverage. Buy Cisco switches.

How to Buy

No matter your company’s size or the scope of your needs, we at MDSi serve as your one-stop shop to help set up a new Cisco network, or expand on an existing one. To get started, feel free to browse through our available Cisco networking products, including servers, routers, security appliances and switches.

If you have a particular product or two in mind, request a quote to help you determine how each fits within your budget.

We know that making decisions on networking hardware can be an extensive process, and you’re always free to call us at 1-800-874-9850 to let us help talk you through it. We can answer specific questions, give you more detailed recommendations based on your networking size and needs, and go into specific and extensive specifications and features of each product we offer.

Also, we’ve already mentioned it, but it’s worth pointing out again that the Cisco Refresh program is an excellent way to acquire industry-leading networking hardware at a fraction of the cost of new equipment. We’re one of the largest sellers of Cisco-certified refurbished hardware, and since MDSi is a WBENC company, all Cisco Refresh purchases count toward your business or organization’s diversity spending goals.

One of the best aspects of the Cisco Refresh program is the refurbished products come with the same level of support, value and performance as new products. Each item is backed by the same warranty and is Smartnet eligible corresponding new Cisco products, and they’re fully licensed with official Cisco IOS software.

Finally, cost avoidance is a pillar of our strength, so our years of experience studying, analyzing and diagnosing IT infrastructures will always help you come up with the best solutions at reduced costs. We offer cloud-based monitoring through or proprietary software, ACUITY, which can help us help you manage all of your hardware through its entire lifecycle. This is another great way to help you reduce costs over time.

We look forward to working with you on all your Cisco networking needs, and can’t wait to build a working relationship that will thrive for years to come.

Comments are closed.

Request a Quote Get Started