Stacking Vs. Chassis Switch: How to Choose?

Maximizing scalability and optimizing performance are two paramount factors when you design or upgrade your network. It is hard to find the right balance. Given that you need more than 48 ports in a wiring closet, but you could not decide which type of switches to buy. Stacking switch or non-stacking switch? Or does a modular chassis solution make more sense? In this article, we would make a comparison between stacking and chassis access switches and guide you to make an appropriate decision.

Stacking Switches Solutions

Over the years, stacking network switches have been highly favored by lots of Ethernet users and been a core component of an enterprise-grade switch. So what is reason for the popularity of stacking switches? By using stacking switches, we can add ports as we need them by simply purchasing another switch and adding it to the stack. We can stack up to nine Cisco 3750-X switches and have 432 x 10/100/1000 ports and 18 x 10 Gbps ports. We can do this using only 9RU’s of rack space. A chassis would require over double the rack space to achieve this access port density. This makes these switches very popular as top-of-rack switches in the data center.

brocad-stackable-switches

Figure1: Brocade Stackable Switches (Resource: www.Brocade.com)

Pros of Stacking Switches
  • Pay-as-you-grow
  • Small Physical Footprint
  • Convenient 100v Power Standard
  • Virtual Chassis Capability
  • Cross-Stack EtherChannel
Cons of Stacking Switches
  • Management Difficulties
  • Power Demands
  • Software Complexity
  • Instability
Chassis Switches Solutions

Chassis devices, often being “premier” devices, may offer software and/or hardware features unavailable on a stack. They are the flagship models of every vendor’s switching line. In contrast to the fixed configuration switches, it is engineered to operate as single integrated system. Configuring high availability is simple and it works every single time. A failed line card will not bring down the entire chassis. Additionally, a chassis will drive consistency in deployment.

Cisco Chassis Switches

Figure2: Cisco Chassis Switches (Resource: www.Cisco.com)

Pros of Stacking Switches
  • Solid High Availability Features
  • Modular Design
  • Supports Wide Range of Line Cards
  • Simple to Deploy
Cons of Stacking Switches
  • Physical Space (twice the space of stacks)
  • Expensive Power Supplies
  • 220v Power for PoE Solutions
How to Choose?

Just as the same as the every comparison on the similar kits, the decision really depends on your actual requirements. Once we have this, finding the right hardware is very straightforward. It is important to balance the cost of acquisition versus the cost of operations and impact to the business due to outages. And that is what we always thinking about when we make a decision.

In this article, we mainly provide the detailed information about stacking and chassis switches solutions, and offer you relatively enough information to help you to make a decision on choosing the best switching solutions for setting up or upgrading your network. There are too many variables to give a one-size-fits-all recommendation, but in general chassis Ethernet switches‘ solutions are our preference. In addition, you should keep in mind that pricing should not be the focused too much. We can get both designs for a pretty reasonable price, regardless of requirements. If your network can benefit from both stackables and chassis, the chassis solution would be a good choice.

Single Switch Vs. Multiple Switch: How to Select for Home Network?

Network switches are indispensable part on setting up a home network. For home Gigabit Ethernet switches, both one large single switch and multiple smaller switches are good options. Using one large switch, the speed of data transferring could be faster but the problem is you have to run multiple lines throughout the house. Using multiple switches at home maybe redundant at some extent. So how to choose?

For choosing single large switch or multiple smaller switch applied to home network, it is not an easy question to answer. Because it involves various factors—size of the house, power consumption, fiber or copper, rack mount or not. Besides, you still need to consider how dense each part of the house will have networking. And then, in terms of this topic, we did some researches on some professional forums to investigate and congregate thoughts. Most of them prefer to use one larger switch rather than multiple smaller switches for home networking. The reasons are described in the following part.

switch stacking

Figure1: multiple smaller switch stack

By using a central switch you will have UPS protection, unless you have an UPS at each location of course. And using a larger switch instead of multiple smaller ones, just because you will end up using less power that way. By using multiple switches, just make sure you buy two in case of hardware failure, that is the downside of centralizing everything to one device. So in that way, you will cost more to make sure the work of the hardware. In the below statement, we would list some merits and demerits to further clarify the reason why it is better to choose one large single switch instead of multiple smaller switches for home network.

Benefits of Using A Single Switch
  • A single switch will give you more security and better manageability, since it is centrally located.
  • In case of a small building, it is feasible to have a single optical switch catering to everyone. But if the building is big, then due to distance limitation of fast Ethernet, it may not be possible for one switch to cater to all the users. In this case, you will have to go for multiple switch solution.
  • One single switch will give you better performance than many switches. This is because in case of many switches, the inter-switch link is usually fast Ethernet or Gigabit Ethernet, but when you are using a single switch, switch backbone operates at much higher speeds.

So we can infer that if you have a small network, then you can start with single switch, and then as the network grows, you can migrate to multiple switch scenario. But if you are planning for a single switch situation, please think about a backup for this switch (either automatic failover or manual failover), so that in case of failure you can switch to the backup.

Weakness of Using Multiple Switches

First of all, using multiple switches dispatched in the different places is some sort of complexity. You need to connect all of them through some paths. And then, power consumption is also a big trouble. Using multiple switches inevitably brought much more power consumption than single switches. Besides, using multiple or redundant switch is common for security specially IP camera. If one of the switch breaks, then your other camera is still accessible. Then you have the distance limitation, which if this is the case, then you don’t have a choice but to implement more switch.

320px-Switched-fabric.svg

Figure2: fabric of multiple switches

Conclusion

According to the above description and analysis, we can draw a conclusion that using a single large network switches are better than using multiple smaller switches for home networking in most cases. But if you own an extremely larger house to meet your network requirement, and then multiple smaller switches would be good options.

Dell Powerconnect 2700 Vs. 2800 Series Switches

Both the Dell PowerConnect 2700 series and 2800 series switches are secure, fixed-port Gigabit switches. The Dell PowerConnect 2700 series was launched in the early 2000s, designed to deliver full wire-speed switching performance. Not long after the 2700 series, the 2800 series were released to support jumbo frames for networks that need to move large files across the network. They are both cost-effective solutions for small network environments, such as branch offices, schools and etc. However, it seems that it is hard to make a decision about purchasing these two series switches. This article would offer a satisfied solution to you and give a brief introduction to 2700 series and 2800 series switches.

Dell PowerConnect 2700 Series Switches

The Dell PowerConnect 2700 series switches are web-managed switches, the web-interface allows the user to easily manage the switch without learning CLI commands or integrating the switch into an SNMP-based application. These switches offer three port densities, including 8, 16, 24 and 48 Gigabit Ethernet 1 ports. Besides, the 2724 and 2748 have SFP slots in a combo port arrangement that deliver fiber capabilities. Auto MDI/MDIX and autonegotiation of speed, duplex mode and flow help deliver improved control over your network traffic. Totally, there are four models of 2700 series switch—Dell PowerConnect 2708, 2716, 2724, 2748. The main features of these switches are listed in the below:

  • There switches are prepared in advance for any elevated IT requirements.
  • They could eliminate the potential risks within the switch.
  • The 2700 series switches provide the flexibility to meet the requirement of various end users and applications environments.
  • They provide smartly balancing quality and the best prices.

dell-powerconnect-2716-overview

Figure1: Dell Powerconnect 2716 switch(Resource: www.DELL.com)

Dell PowerConnect 2800 Series Switches

As same as the 2700 Series Switch, Dell PowerConnect 2800 Series Switches are also web-managed Gigabit Ethernet switches. These switches offer four port densities, including 8, 16 , 24, and 48 port Gigabit Ethernet ports. In addition, the 2824 and 2848 have SFP slots in a combo port arrangement that deliver fiber capabilities (SFP transceivers optional). The PowerConnect 2800 family also supports jumbo frames for networks that need to move large files across the network. There are also four switch models of 2800 series switches—Dell PowerConnect 2808, 2816, 2824, and 2848. Main benefits of 2800 series switches are listed in the following.

  • Easy web access to the managed features provides a secure environment by offering password restricted access.
  • These switches offer enhanced security by allowing the user to specify which IP addresses have access to the switch.
  • The 2800 series switches support up to six link aggregation groups consisting of up to four ports per group.
  • Advanced cable diagnostics help improve network troubleshooting.

Dell 2800 series switch

Figure2: Dell 2800 Series Switches(Resource: www.DELL.com)

Dell 2700 Vs. 2800 Series switches

As being described, the Dell PowerConnect 2700 and 2800 series switches are nearly identical. But they still have some subtle differences in STP, management configuration, switching and price.

—Spanning Tree Protocol (STP)

Compared to Dell PowerConnect 2700 series switches, 2800 series support more STP protocols and support 9000 jumbo frames (not not 9014, etc.). If you do a ping -f on the 2724 with jumbo frames enabled it will go to 5000, 5500, 6000, but not 9000 – they get fragmented at that point. Granted that is only useful for iSCSI traffic, and even then it’s not 100% necessary. And the 9014+ jumbo frames is of the preference.

—Management Configuration

Both 2700 and 2800 series switches are small office switches with minimal management. They all not have LACP. BootP/DHCP IP address management or Static IP address assignment are set within the 2800 series switches. The 2800 series switches have CLI and SNMP Command Subset while the 2700 series switches do not.

—Switching

The link aggregation of both two series switches are up to eight aggregated links and up to eight member ports per aggregated link (IEEE 802.3ad). But the Jumbo frame of 2700 series switches support up to 9000 Bytes (2716, 2724, and 2748). The 2800 series switches have LACP support (IEEE 802.3ad).

—Price

Compared to 2700 series switches, 2800 series switches are cheaper. Just take the same 16-port switch for a example, a new Dell 2816 switch only needs $56 while a new Dell 2716 switch costs $112 on eBay.

Conclusion

Through this article, we are clear about the Dell 2700 and 2800 series Gigabit Ethernet switches as well as their differences in STP, management configuration, switching and price. They all powerful switches with outstanding cost and power savings. You can select an appropriate one according to your need.