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  1. #1

    COLO switch suggestions - easy to manage

    My brain is melting here. I have spent the past week reading and putting together hardware lists. Per my other threads, we have about 30 servers going into a colo. They all serve a single application. Everything is 1gb. We will be bonding the nics on our db servers, and haproxy load balancers.

    We need a private vlan, and a public vlan.

    I need something simple to configure, simple to manage, and hopefully fairly inexpensive. The datacenter will be giving us A B fiber drops for our connection to the internet.

  2. #2
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    1gig uplinks and 1 gig ports?

    A Cisco 3750G may be a good option. A 3750E can get you 10gig uplinks.
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  3. #3
    I'd recommend a Cisco 3750E or Juniper EX4200 for your needs. EX4200 is expandable as well to 10G

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1EightT View Post
    I need something simple to configure
    something "simple to configure" is completely subjective, this is kind of like asking what is the best ice cream flavor.

    will you be the person doing all of the configuration? if you haven't setup a network like this before, you may want to find someone who can provide you with some initial setup help and ongoing support as needed.

    if you have experience working with cisco IOS, then a cisco IOS-based switch would probably be simplest to you.

    Configuring a datacenter switch with a web GUI is not popular, but if that is what "simple" means to you, then you should specify that.
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by TQ Mark View Post
    something "simple to configure" is completely subjective, this is kind of like asking what is the best ice cream flavor.

    will you be the person doing all of the configuration? if you haven't setup a network like this before, you may want to find someone who can provide you with some initial setup help and ongoing support as needed.

    if you have experience working with cisco IOS, then a cisco IOS-based switch would probably be simplest to you.

    Configuring a datacenter switch with a web GUI is not popular, but if that is what "simple" means to you, then you should specify that.
    Completely understand. I've been designing, building, and maintaining clusters of servers for years, but this is the first time being thrown into the networking side of things. I'm a quick study, and know most of the basics. I really just want to make sure i'm not making some bonehead mistake with our otherwise great hardware.

    Right now i'm looking at a pair of cisco 4948's: http://www.ebay.com/itm/111239884469

    This would take care of the public and private vlan's, then a simple 2950 for ipmi http://www.ebay.com/itm/200968476556

    I just need to be able to create a private vlan so the load balancers can talk to the server cluster, and a public vlan so I can gain shell access to the servers. Finally, IPMI so we can restart the machines of course. Does my selection of switches sound like it will accomplish these goals?

  6. #6
    Thought about the HP procurve series ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1EightT View Post
    Completely understand. I've been designing, building, and maintaining clusters of servers for years, but this is the first time being thrown into the networking side of things. I'm a quick study, and know most of the basics. I really just want to make sure i'm not making some bonehead mistake with our otherwise great hardware.

    Right now i'm looking at a pair of cisco 4948's: http://www.ebay.com/itm/111239884469

    This would take care of the public and private vlan's, then a simple 2950 for ipmi http://www.ebay.com/itm/200968476556

    I just need to be able to create a private vlan so the load balancers can talk to the server cluster, and a public vlan so I can gain shell access to the servers. Finally, IPMI so we can restart the machines of course. Does my selection of switches sound like it will accomplish these goals?
    Not that other vendors don't offer similar equipment (and plus or minus, many offer good/worse) thats not a bad setup. Consider a 2960, HP 2824 or similar for the IPMIs, they can be found for around/under 100 bucks... the 2950's are really long in the tooth and I'd be concerned about failure.
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Shift-aaron View Post
    Thought about the HP procurve series ?
    I have heard mixed things on here. Some say they are great, while others claim that they have issues at high bandwidth because of their smaller buffer. Anyone using them in production under high load?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1EightT View Post
    Completely understand. I've been designing, building, and maintaining clusters of servers for years, but this is the first time being thrown into the networking side of things. I'm a quick study, and know most of the basics. I really just want to make sure i'm not making some bonehead mistake with our otherwise great hardware.

    Right now i'm looking at a pair of cisco 4948's: http://www.ebay.com/itm/111239884469

    This would take care of the public and private vlan's, then a simple 2950 for ipmi http://www.ebay.com/itm/200968476556

    I just need to be able to create a private vlan so the load balancers can talk to the server cluster, and a public vlan so I can gain shell access to the servers. Finally, IPMI so we can restart the machines of course. Does my selection of switches sound like it will accomplish these goals?

    Is cisco 4948 a managed switch? Is the Cisco SG300-52 something that fits your requirements or no? http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-SEALED-S...item2c78edc973
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  10. #10
    From the specs, it meets all of my criteria. It's wire speed, 48 port, supposedly easy to configure, has 10g uplinks for stacking, and supports the ability to create multiple vlans. Anyone use these in production?

  11. #11
    What does your COLO provider recommend? They should be able to help steer you in the right direction and could help with any setup/configuration issues on them too since they would be familiar with them. We use Cisco and their web GUI is "simple."
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    I love the Cisco 4900 switches.
    I would recommend spending a touch more on the WS-C4948-10GE-E (with the Enhanced Multilayer Image)
    Note that you will not have any fiber 1 GigE uplinks.
    The 10GigE Ports can only be used at 10GigE. Cisco has the Twin GigE adapters that will not work on the 4948!

    We are using these switches as top of the Rack switches with 10GigE uplinks back to a set of Cisco 7606.

    Thanks

    Daniel

  13. #13
    Those are the switches I had currently spec'd out: http://www.ebay.com/itm/111239884469

  14. #14
    Nobody gets fired for choosing Cisco. The Enterprise image is always advisable; you'll find yourself looking for a "supported" feature and going nuts trying to make it work until you realize the IOS doesn't support it!

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    We use only 48 port Cisco 4948's and 3560X's in our network. The 3560X's are newer and more expensive but on a practical level there is little difference between them except the uplink ports. The 3560X's have dual 10G option standard whereas the 4948's either have quad gigabit SFP ports or dual 10G depending on the model. We only do gigabit Internet connections so the 4948 model with 4xSFP ports is ideal for fiber termination.

    Either switch is as easy to configure and manage as any Cisco IOS device is but familiarity with Cisco configurations is pretty important or else getting a Cisco consultant to help can be a great investment.

    Once you set them up they are rock solid reliable. While technically keeping them up to date with newer Cisco IOS software from time-to-time is a good best practice, but for the vast majority of uses there is no tangible benefit. It's not uncommon to see these switches have software that is 5 years old or more that run just great.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1EightT View Post
    From the specs, it meets all of my criteria. It's wire speed, 48 port, supposedly easy to configure, has 10g uplinks for stacking, and supports the ability to create multiple vlans. Anyone use these in production?
    What about the Cisco SG300-52? Isn't that wort considering?
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    We just setup a new collocation space at the IO Phoenix data center (this is one sweet facility and a great outfit to work with) and we used a pair of Cisco 4948 switches (the non 10G version) for everything. We have dual network drops (cat5 but fiber would have worked also) from the data center. We do BGP to the data center with the 4948 in a redundant configuration. We use Cisco VRF technology to do complete IP space segmentation which is very powerful. We have private and public VLANs and we also do a complete trunked L2TPv3 bridge to our primary data center in Sacramento so all our VLANs are available in both data centers. We do SNMP monitoring of everything on the switches. Between the two switches we have two cross connected gigabit ports as we don't really need anything faster. The $1,600 paid for both switches is an exceptional value and will serve us well for many years.

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    can anyone tell me what is wrong with Cisco SG300-52? Everyone seems to be ignoring that recommendation
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    Quote Originally Posted by nokia3310 View Post
    can anyone tell me what is wrong with Cisco SG300-52? Everyone seems to be ignoring that recommendation
    I have no hands on experience with the SG300 but its in a whole different class targeted for a different market segment. The SG300 for example only has a single power supply whereas the 4948 has redundant hot-swap power supplies along with a hot-swap fan unit.

    Most data centers have A/B power so you can ensure your switch never goes down with a loss of one side of the power. The 4948 runs Cisco IOS which most people would consider to be just about the most reliable router/switch OS there is. Cisco takes IOS bugs seriously and makes frequent software releases to fix bugs. The SG300 does not run IOS but has an IOS like CLI. Its unlikely an SMB focused product will have anywhere near the software support and bug updates as the enterprise class IOS product.

    The SG300-52 new is around $850. The Cisco 4948 new is around $4,600 but the suggestion was to get a pair of used 4948 that sell on eBay for around $800. There is a reason Cisco sells the new 4948's for the price they do and it has to do with true enterprise reliability and support that is appropriate for 24x7 data center applications.

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    Quote Originally Posted by progent View Post
    I have no hands on experience with the SG300 but its in a whole different class targeted for a different market segment. The SG300 for example only has a single power supply whereas the 4948 has redundant hot-swap power supplies along with a hot-swap fan unit.

    Most data centers have A/B power so you can ensure your switch never goes down with a loss of one side of the power. The 4948 runs Cisco IOS which most people would consider to be just about the most reliable router/switch OS there is. Cisco takes IOS bugs seriously and makes frequent software releases to fix bugs. The SG300 does not run IOS but has an IOS like CLI. Its unlikely an SMB focused product will have anywhere near the software support and bug updates as the enterprise class IOS product.

    The SG300-52 new is around $850. The Cisco 4948 new is around $4,600 but the suggestion was to get a pair of used 4948 that sell on eBay for around $800. There is a reason Cisco sells the new 4948's for the price they do and it has to do with true enterprise reliability and support that is appropriate for 24x7 data center applications.
    There you go exactly what i was looking to hear..thanks for the clarification and info.

    One more thing..so the 4948 is managed? and what is the 10G there for? are the ports 10G...all 48 ports?
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    Quote Originally Posted by nokia3310 View Post
    There you go exactly what i was looking to hear..thanks for the clarification and info.

    One more thing..so the 4948 is managed? and what is the 10G there for? are the ports 10G...all 48 ports?
    Yes the 4948 is a fully managed switch through telnet, ssh, or serial console. Cisco IOS also has web management capabilities but I never use it and canít tell you what it does or does not do at this point. It used to do basic functions but not a lot of advanced things.

    The 10G model has two 10G GBIC ports where you can do copper or optical connections. You can use the 10G for any purpose but it is commonly used to connect the switches together although you can also connect them to servers if you like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by progent View Post
    Yes the 4948 is a fully managed switch through telnet, ssh, or serial console. Cisco IOS also has web management capabilities but I never use it and canít tell you what it does or does not do at this point. It used to do basic functions but not a lot of advanced things.

    The 10G model has two 10G GBIC ports where you can do copper or optical connections. You can use the 10G for any purpose but it is commonly used to connect the switches together although you can also connect them to servers if you like.
    Can i can use the 4948 to get an uplink of 10G and distribute the 10G through the 48 ports? Like in a colo where i can get a 10G uplink? Is that a possible scenario?
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    Quote Originally Posted by nokia3310 View Post
    Can i can use the 4948 to get an uplink of 10G and distribute the 10G through the 48 ports? Like in a colo where i can get a 10G uplink? Is that a possible scenario?
    You can use the 10G port from a provider to distribute to the 1G ports but you will most likely see some packet loss due to microbursts on the 10G overrunning the 1G ports. For many applications this may not be an issue but for some it might. I'm obsessive about zero packet loss in my network designs and if I see any packet loss I'm usually spending time to find out the root cause. About the only solution that really works to eliminate this problem is to implement some form of traffic shaping to pace the packets from higher speed connections to lower speed ones. Maybe there are some switches that can do decent traffic shaping but the 4948 does not. Unfortunately a router that can deal with 10G traffic capable of traffic shaping is going to cost some serious bucks. The Cisco ASR 1000 series for example would be ideal but expensive solution. In just about all cases, once you get into 10G everything related to switches and routers becomes expensive.

  24. #24
    Thank you everyone, I ended up with a pair of 4948's for the main switches, and a single 2960 for ipmi. I will update the thread again with more details about setup once they get here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1EightT View Post
    Thank you everyone, I ended up with a pair of 4948's for the main switches, and a single 2960 for ipmi. I will update the thread again with more details about setup once they get here.
    A little lost here...why u buying the 2960 switch again? Why not use the ports from the pair of 4948 for the IPMI?
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    Quote Originally Posted by nokia3310 View Post
    can anyone tell me what is wrong with Cisco SG300-52? Everyone seems to be ignoring that recommendation
    I use Cisco SG300 for client office setups and my own test lab. The web interface kinda sucks but best bang for the buck from what I use it for.

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    Just wanted to note about being careful when you're going to do a bunch of bonding/port channels as a lot of the Cisco gear is limited to 8 per device, I think that stands even in a stack in many cases.

    My recommendation would have been a pair of Juniper EX3300's or EX4200's (depending on features needed) and putting them in a virtual chassis configuration. That way you don't need to deal with spanning tree issues as they act as one switch, but can still get redundancy, putting devices off each switch or bonded to both of them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KarlZimmer View Post
    Just wanted to note about being careful when you're going to do a bunch of bonding/port channels as a lot of the Cisco gear is limited to 8 per device, I think that stands even in a stack in many cases.

    My recommendation would have been a pair of Juniper EX3300's or EX4200's (depending on features needed) and putting them in a virtual chassis configuration. That way you don't need to deal with spanning tree issues as they act as one switch, but can still get redundancy, putting devices off each switch or bonded to both of them.
    There is nothing wrong with the Juniper switches you listed but a quick a check of eBay shows them used as starting $2,000 and $1,550 respectively for the 48 port version, which is 2-3 times the price of the 4948. You would normally expect something more expensive to be worth something for the extra price. Plus at those prices you could pickup a used Cisco 3560X which is current state-of-the-art for Cisco gigabit switches.

    Just to clarify the capabilities of the 4948, you can have up to 50 ether-channel groups each with a maximum of 8 ports per group, which even by modern standards is pretty decent and unlikely to ever be exceeded.

    I'm not saying the 4948 is all wonderful. After all it is a 10 year old design, but for $600-$800 it is an amazing value for what it does. It's L2 capabilities are still impressive today and its really only the L3 features that show obvious limitations, such as weak IPv6 and multicast routing support. At some point if you need those capabilities the switch still works great with the addition of a more modern routing solution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by progent View Post
    There is nothing wrong with the Juniper switches you listed but a quick a check of eBay shows them used as starting $2,000 and $1,550 respectively for the 48 port version, which is 2-3 times the price of the 4948. You would normally expect something more expensive to be worth something for the extra price. Plus at those prices you could pickup a used Cisco 3560X which is current state-of-the-art for Cisco gigabit switches.
    First, not sure why you'd pick-up a 3560X over those Juniper options, I'd take either of those Junipers over the 3560X any day.

    Also, yes, buying a device that is effectively EOL (http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/coll...51-702107.html) will be much cheaper, as people dump them to upgrade to something that is actually being supported. My priorities are for something that will work effectively long term, not the cheapest. IMHO, the Juniper will last you more than twice as long with a much more complete feature set, so should easily be worth twice the price.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KarlZimmer View Post
    First, not sure why you'd pick-up a 3560X over those Juniper options, I'd take either of those Junipers over the 3560X any day.

    Also, yes, buying a device that is effectively EOL (http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/coll...51-702107.html) will be much cheaper, as people dump them to upgrade to something that is actually being supported. My priorities are for something that will work effectively long term, not the cheapest. IMHO, the Juniper will last you more than twice as long with a much more complete feature set, so should easily be worth twice the price.
    To me picking Juniper vs. Cisco is like choosing a religion. Each has pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses, and their ideas on what is "right" but in the end they both will usually get the job done just fine. Mostly a lot of the choice has to do with your experience and what you are comfortable working with. I know Cisco pretty well so I can be make recommendations based on own experience. There are rabid Juniper fans as well as Cisco, but usually those folks can't be very impartial. As IT consultants we are agnostic and both Juniper and Cisco make some great gear. Juniper has been a great competitor to Cisco, which has been wonderful to network equipment buyers. One this I can say is that with a much larger market share it is easier to find Cisco expertise than Juniper and boy are those Cisco CCIE's smart folks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by progent View Post
    To me picking Juniper vs. Cisco is like choosing a religion. Each has pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses, and their ideas on what is "right" but in the end they both will usually get the job done just fine. Mostly a lot of the choice has to do with your experience and what you are comfortable working with. I know Cisco pretty well so I can be make recommendations based on own experience. There are rabid Juniper fans as well as Cisco, but usually those folks can't be very impartial. As IT consultants we are agnostic and both Juniper and Cisco make some great gear. Juniper has been a great competitor to Cisco, which has been wonderful to network equipment buyers. One this I can say is that with a much larger market share it is easier to find Cisco expertise than Juniper and boy are those Cisco CCIE's smart folks.
    I agree, don't see how any of that applies here though...

    I'm a fan of both Cisco and Juniper, we use the best tool for the job. Here comparing the 3560X to the EX3300 though I don't see why you'd pick the 3560X if the price is about the same. The 3560X is just older, it can't be stacked while the EX3300 supports virtual chassis, 2x 10 GigE ports on a separate module vs 4x SFP+ ports built in, 256MB of memory vs 1GB, support for 1005 VLANs vs 4096, 6000 MAC addresses vs 16,000, and I could keep going. The only reason I'd see that you'd go with the 3560X is dual power supplies instead of using an external redundant power supply, but then the EX4200 has that and wins on the specs by even more than the EX3300 does.

    We have both 3560X's and EX3300's in our network. We're soon removing the 3560X's from our network and we keep adding more EX3300's. The EX3300's are just much more capable switches.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KarlZimmer View Post
    The 3560X is just older, it can't be stacked while the EX3300 supports virtual chassis, 2x 10 GigE ports on a separate module vs 4x SFP+ ports built in, 256MB of memory vs 1GB, support for 1005 VLANs vs 4096, 6000 MAC addresses vs 16,000, and I could keep going.
    Well but if you compare with the Cisco Catalyst 4948...the specs are 4096 VLANs and 32,000 MAC addresses
    http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/coll...d8017a72e.html

    I mean for small colocation...like 1 rack or less...i am not sure one really will need more than the 4948...and for a $750 price for a used/refurbished one...getting 2 for redundancy isn't a stupid decision i think.
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    Also where does brocade place between cisco and juniper...they have the most expensive pricing of all...have no idea for what reason
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    Quote Originally Posted by nokia3310 View Post
    Well but if you compare with the Cisco Catalyst 4948...the specs are 4096 VLANs and 32,000 MAC addresses
    http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/coll...d8017a72e.html

    I mean for small colocation...like 1 rack or less...i am not sure one really will need more than the 4948...and for a $750 price for a used/refurbished one...getting 2 for redundancy isn't a stupid decision i think.
    If you're so cheap that you can't buy a switch that isn't EOL'd you're in the wrong business, imho.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KarlZimmer View Post
    I agree, don't see how any of that applies here though...

    I'm a fan of both Cisco and Juniper, we use the best tool for the job. Here comparing the 3560X to the EX3300 though I don't see why you'd pick the 3560X if the price is about the same. The 3560X is just older, it can't be stacked while the EX3300 supports virtual chassis, 2x 10 GigE ports on a separate module vs 4x SFP+ ports built in, 256MB of memory vs 1GB, support for 1005 VLANs vs 4096, 6000 MAC addresses vs 16,000, and I could keep going. The only reason I'd see that you'd go with the 3560X is dual power supplies instead of using an external redundant power supply, but then the EX4200 has that and wins on the specs by even more than the EX3300 does.

    We have both 3560X's and EX3300's in our network. We're soon removing the 3560X's from our network and we keep adding more EX3300's. The EX3300's are just much more capable switches.
    Would you say that the EX3300 is worth saving $700 vs a EX4200?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Encrypted View Post
    Would you say that the EX3300 is worth saving $700 vs a EX4200?
    Depends on what you're using it for. If you need a true Layer 3 workhorse or stacking at speeds over say 10 Gbit/sec the EX4200 is likely worth it. If not, the EX3300 likely fits your needs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Encrypted View Post
    Would you say that the EX3300 is worth saving $700 vs a EX4200?
    Depends on what your requirements are. Pros of the EX3300 are the 4 built-in 10Gb ports vs a maximum of 2x 10Gb ports with an add-on module required. Cons of the EX3300 are some missing features, due to being newer hardware, needing an additional EFL license to have feature parity with an EX4200 (BFD, OSPF, Virtual Router, etc.), and only having a single power supply.

    For us, we don't care about the dual power supplies as we'd rather just have a 2nd switch for complete redundancy, and don't need 4x power supplies to do the job of 1 device.

    Some other options though, is if you need 2 switches, you can run 2x EX4200's in a virtual chassis, and then have 4x 10Gb ports in total combined to what would logically be a single device. We're doing this with EX4200-24F's, as we needed an all SFP switch with more than 2x 10Gb ports.

    The EX4300 is also worth consideration, and has the same MSRP as the EX4200. Like the EX3300, there's still some features missing though due to being a newer generation, and you need to buy the EFL.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nokia3310 View Post
    Also where does brocade place between cisco and juniper...they have the most expensive pricing of all...have no idea for what reason
    I think this statement depends on the specific models. The VDXs offer fabric capabilities (Ethernet Fabrics specifically) and hence are more $$$ than "traditional ethernet".

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by nokia3310 View Post
    Also where does brocade place between cisco and juniper...they have the most expensive pricing of all...have no idea for what reason
    Brocade is not more expensive. In real world deals, you'll usually find it for substantially less than Cisco or Juniper for equivalent devices, which is the primary reason you'd choose it. Their architecture, code quality, and feature set are all decisively inferior to Cisco's or Juniper's. However, if it will do the job you need, it may be worth the cost savings.
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  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by hhw View Post
    Brocade is not more expensive. In real world deals, you'll usually find it for substantially less than Cisco or Juniper for equivalent devices, which is the primary reason you'd choose it. Their architecture, code quality, and feature set are all decisively inferior to Cisco's or Juniper's. However, if it will do the job you need, it may be worth the cost savings.
    Brocade is not always cheaper. We actually got our new Juniper MX480's for less than Brocade XMRs, primarily because the high density 10 GigE modules from Juniper have been very affordable.

    I would also agree that Cisco and Juniper are just far and away the leaders of the pack in architecture and code quality. Sometimes, for say a lower end need, it might make sense to save the money with another vendor.
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