Give me one 24 port switch please !

After I get an interesting if it is not weird question about switch selection from someone couple days ago I decided to share my ideas about this specific and actually important topic.

 

Question was exactly like this; ‘ Which one I should buy 24 port or 48 port switch ‘. What would you give as an answer to this question please let me know in the comment below.

I would be giving as a designer our classical answer which is it depends or whichever you liked, you should buy it ,  but also as a gentleman my answer was; think about your scaling. Of course many question should be asked for selecting most appropriate switch.

 

  • Where will it be positioned?   Will it be in the data center or campus ? At which tier will it be used ( two, three, maybe one ? ). Access, distribution, core ?

For this specific case since the question was 24 port or 48 port, we can think that it will be positioned at access layer and in the campus. It can be also at the data center as well maybe as TOR(Top of rack)  switch or  at the internet edge for ADC connection so on  but let’s continue to ask questions based on these assumptions. It is for access layer and it will be positioned  in the campus.

 

  • Do you need Power over Ethernet for phones, access points etc ?
  • Do you need layer 3 support ?. How is your access layer design, do you have layer 3 access or layer 2 ?
  • What is the scaling requirements ? If you will only use 5 ports and you don’t expect exponential growth within 3 to 5 years you may not need 48 ports.It can be very small company or maybe branch site of the company.
  • Do you need IPv6 support ? If yes will it be in the hardware ?
  • Does it support link aggregation protocols? If yes, does it support tuned LACP or fast Pagp?.(They can be important to support some split brain scenario at the distribution layer) ?
  • Would you consider unified access switch, so you can terminate your capwap tunnel directly on the switch ?
  • Would it support IGMP snooping if your network multicast enable?
  • Would you consider stack able switch for centralize control and management plane like Cisco VSS, HP IRF etc.?
  • What about speed ? I assume 1 Gbps is the new 100 Mbps.
  • Then what about uplink port for that standalone switch or if it is in the stack, stack uplink ?
  • Which first hop security feature is supported ?
  • What is the QoS granularity of the switch ? How many queue, how many of them priority queue ?
  • This might be thought some one exaggerated but what about Openflow support ?
  • What about management protocol support ? Snmpv2, snmpv3, syslog, netflow, sflow, nbar so on?
  • If you have already have access switches in your network which mean it is brownfield environment, would you consider to bring new vendor into the shop ? What about interoperability?
  • Cost of the switch may not be technical requirement but definitely might be as business requirement, so if all the features are supported by the vendor , is it cheap ?

 

Since the edges are the brain of our network, intelligence is at the edges.Access layer switch selection is important decision, your network design directly affect your selection, also your device selection affects your network design. Always business requirements should be considered first. Above questions at least should be asked while selecting an access layer switches.

 

These are the important questions just now I thought. I believe many more can be added for specific cases  and I would like to see your thoughts in the comment.

Orhan Ergun
Orhan Ergun, CCIE, CCDE, is a network architect mostly focused on service providers, data centers, virtualization and security. He has more than 10 years in IT, and has worked on many network design and deployment projects. Orhan works as a freelance network instructor, for training you can add ' Orhan Ergun ' on skype. In addition, Orhan is a: Blogger at Network Computing. Blogger and podcaster at Packet Pushers. Manager of Google CCDE Group. On Twitter @OrhanErgunCCDE
  • Richard Alexander

    The $1M question often overlooked is support costs… Given the likely number of edge switches a campus is likely to require, what is your chosen device going to cost you to support over its 3-5 year lifespan?

    • http://www.packetpushers.net,http://www.networkcomputing.com Orhan Ergun

      Support cost definitely might be one of the parameter which I would think it as a TCO. Maybe not technical requirement but business requirement. I can not answer based on only support cost which device I would choose since as I indicated in the post all or most of the parameters I may require to look for as well.
      Hope to help.

  • Brannen

    Physical considerations have to be taken into account also. 24/48 probably same form factor, but how much space do they have in the room or rack, how many power connections, what voltage, how much heat can it generate, does it need to stack or be a stand alone. What kind of physical security is there for it?

    All boils down to the good cheap fast triangle, pick two.

    • http://www.packetpushers.net,http://www.networkcomputing.com Orhan Ergun

      Good observations, stack or standalone is in the list but especially power, fun , and other parts which might introduce the system’s reliability should be asked definitely. Thanks for participation.

  • rizky99

    you can also consider 2×24 (in stack if possible) in case of hardware failure and lack of hardware support contracts.

  • Sean Evershed

    If you are looking for an Industrial grade switch that is suited to harsh environments then you may be only limited to the choice of a 24 port switch. For example I had a case of a customer who wanted switches for small outdoor communications enclosures to terminated IP connectivity for parking machines for an outdoor car park. The temperatures inside the enclosures reached above 45 C in the summer. The preferred vendor only marketed 24 port, 1 RU heat resistant switches.

    • http://www.packetpushers.net,http://www.networkcomputing.com Orhan Ergun

      Rare maybe but nice case. Thanks Sean for participation.

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