We help IT Professionals succeed at work.

Cisco 6500 Chassis Vs 3560 Stackables

ken82m asked
Last Modified: 2008-06-19
I need a Cisco switching expert to help me make a procurement decision.  Here are my requirements:

150 10/100 Ports that supply Power over Ethernet.  POE must be "AF" Compliant, not Cisco proprietary.

A) These ports will be connected to Avaya 150 IP phones, and 150 PC's will be plugged into the phones as well.  The phone has a 10/100 ethernet switch built into it.  This cuts down on cabling.  However, this requires each of the 150 ports to be "trunkable".

B)  Obviously, the ports must be QOS compliant.

I also need 40, standard 10/100 ports for low end PC's.

Future growth could mean 200 IP phones and over 200 desktops.
My engineering department will also need 10/100/1000 in the near future.
I need redundant Single Mode Fiber links to another facility.


1.  6500 series Chassis with a variety of modules: $60K +
2.  3 3560 stackable switches: $20K

I have around $30K budgeted but can probably get 60K if there is a very good reason for it.

In a nutshell I am asking for an opinion of which way to go and why.  We are not General Motors or NASA- money does not grow on trees here.
I am getting political heat about not considering the 6500 series chassis, i am being told that i am jepordizing the network.

Is the 3560 stackable solution viable?  If not Why?  How do I justify triple the cost?

Any insight that a Cisco switching expert can provide would be greatly appreciated.  

PS Cisco is my only option as far as vendor goes.
Watch Question

Top Expert 2004

The main benefit of 6500s over 3560 in your case is reliability. the chassis is bulletproof, you can put in 2 power supplies and 2 supervisors with high-availability configured.

If one stackable dies, it will create problems for the other switches too. They are reliable, but failures do happen with the lower-end switches far more than 6500s. It  depends on the organization's tolerance for a failure. and that's where the politics come in. You have to lay out the case and lay out the potential problems of going with stackables, and then let the management decide what they are willing to risk.

Also, if you're going to have those gigabit engineering connections, you will need a switch that can handle that level of traffic, and the 6500s are far better at it than the 3560. Cisco says the "Catalyst 3560 is an ideal access layer switch for small enterprise wiring closets or branch office environments..." That would not be my reccommendation for a high-bandwidth engineering environment. The 6500 supervisor with PFC2 also has far more powerful and flexible QOS options, in hardware, at layers 2 and 3.

You said future growth could mean 200 phones and 200 desktops, but you're already at 150 phones and 190 desktops. Did you mean additional, or total? If total, a 6506 would be sufficient with 1 supervisor. A 6509 should cover you no matter what, and even allow for a 2nd supervisor in the future if the budget doesn't allow it now.
Sr. Systems Engineer
Top Expert 2008
Unlock this solution and get a sample of our free trial.
(No credit card required)
Les MooreSr. Systems Engineer
Top Expert 2008

A 6506 bundle with dual SUP2-PFC2 supervisor engines, dual 2500W power supplies, Dual fan trays, 3x 48-port 10/100/1000 AF Pwr modules, 1 year 24x7x4 on-site maintenance with special bundle price runs LIST $78,000. Expect street price discount of at least 35% off list for a very attractive < $50k


This is outstanding information, exactly what I am looking for.  I truly appreciate your efforts.

One last thing.  Could anyone give me a short explaination of the Supervisor Engines?  I assume this is what is meant by "Soup Engines".
Top Expert 2004

Supervisor engine is the management card. It includes the PFC (policy feature card) and msfc (multilayer switching feature card), which together make a hell of a layer 2 and 3 switching engine. Many functions are performed in ASICs which is why it's so fast.
Les MooreSr. Systems Engineer
Top Expert 2008

Yea, SUP Engine is just the "brains", the CPU for the chassis. Gotta have at least one. They come in many flavors from straight L2 -Sup 1a-
Advanced Sup 2
Advanced Sup 2 w/PFC daughter card
Advanced Sup 2 w/PFC and MSFC2 daughter cards (router/L3 capabilities)
More Advanced Sup 720

Any/All can be used with only one or in dual failover mode to give you redundency down to the CPU..
With dual MSFC2 L3 cards, you can do HSRP between VLANS with both sup engines active at once.

A 6500 is an investment in the future.  Don't cheap out on chassis, power supplies, or supervisors and don't use "a variety of modules" when you can standardize.  You'll regret it in the future.  Your parts list should look like:

WS-SUP720 (one now one later)
2x WS-CAC-4000W-US
4x WS-X6548-GE-45AF (add more later as needed)

mikecrIT Architect/Technology Delivery Manager

Just a suggestion. I currently have a 4510 with two 4000 watt power supplies running POE on 4 - 48 Port 10/100 blades with a SUP IV. It also supports redundant SUP engines, comes with two Fiber uplinks on the engine, and can handle 10/100/1000 blades also. Personally I think the 6500 is overkill, the 4510 works great. We use the Cisco IP phones with ethernet passthru and our help desk agents have their computers hooked into them as well. The price would be much less than the 6500 but you would still have enough slots for future upgradeability.
Couple problems with that suggestion Mike.  First off, the 4510R supports neither a 4000 watt power supply nor the sup IV.  The largest power supply it supports is 2800 watts and the only supervisor it supports is the sup V.  The 6500 series supports a 4000 watt power supply, and the sup IV is supported in the 4507R, so I'm not sure which switch you actually have.

The largest problem with the 4507R and 4510R is their failover time.  They take an average of 45 seconds to failover from the primary supervisor to the secondary.  This is enough time that just about any session going through the switch at the time will be lost.  On the 6500 series the older supervisors running CatOS and the sup 720 running IOS failover in one to two seconds so no sessions are lost.  The older 6500 sups running IOS and the 4500 series uses RPR for failover causing the loss of all traffic.

mikecrIT Architect/Technology Delivery Manager

I apologize, you are correct. I was thinking of my 4006 and 6503 also at the time. My 4510 has two 2800 Watt and is running 2 supervisor V engines, I went and looked just to make sure. I've done a forced failover on mine which takes about 20 seconds to kick in to test. I would still be hard pressed though to spend that kind of money on a 6500. I believe that a 6500 should be used for core functions and not desktop access. That is how my 6503 is currently set up. The 4500 series will provide everything that's needed at a lower cost compared to the 6500.  The miminum power supply required to run the Sup 720 is a 2500 Watt plus you also have to upgrade the fan tray for proper cooling. The chassis alone to get all the line cards you need and redundant Sup engines would probably be a 6509. The cost for a refurb 6509 with one 2500 Watt power supply is around $7000. That doesn't include any engines or line cards yet. Used your probably looking around $40,000 to get everything you need and hopefully you can get Smarnet on it. At that price you could get a 4500 with almost everything you need brand new. That might not inlude a redundant SUP engine.
Unlock the solution to this question.
Thanks for using Experts Exchange.

Please provide your email to receive a sample view!

*This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


Please enter a first name

Please enter a last name

8+ characters (letters, numbers, and a symbol)

By clicking, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.