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Compare Cisco Catalyst 3560 series versus 4500 series?

Posted on 2008-10-16
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In our financial data center, we need to switch about 10 incoming data feeds, with total incoming traffic of approx 80 Mbps (between 0 and 20 Mbps per port), and aggregate into a smaller number of links to servers. All ethernet, and we want to use install GigE to give us some headroom. As the traffic is all financial transactions, packet size may be very small (couple of hundred bytes each) and maybe an aggregate 40,000 packets per second.

Our data center hosting vendor (who will support the switches) is pushing heavily for us to use the Cisco 4500 series switches for this, but as the one who will actually be paying for the switch, I can't find any reason why the 3560 isn't more than good enough at well under one-tenth of the price of the 4500 series. The vendor talks about the 3560 being a toy and that mission critical environments need 4500's, but has yet to offer any concrete reasons involving switching capacity, latency or throughput, that would put some meat on thier argument.

We will deploy two switches as part of route diversity, so I  don't feel the need for redundant controllers on each switch. However I can see the value of redundant power supplies, which I believe the 3560 supports.

I would appreciate some advice as to whether the 3560 will be sufficient for our needs, or whether we should move up to the 4500 series.
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Question by:Bill_Hollings
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sstone55423 earned 225 total points
ID: 22737618
I think that that the 3560 is great.  It certainly will do what you want it to do.  The advantage of the 4500 series is that you have a great deal more fault tolerance, including redundant power supplies and controllers, as well as the capability to swap out boards.  It is scaleable for a growing company, and can handle very large capacities.  Also, you can upgrade the processor board to ones with more capabilities (like layer 4 switching), and perhaps other capabilities in the future.
I think if there were no price difference, the 4500 would be the better choice.  Of course, there is a large price difference.  So, really the question is, if you have a failure with the 3560, what is your backup plan?  How can you satisfy those 10 incoming feeds during the time period that you have an outage?  WIll you have a cold spare 3560 on hand, or 4 hour depot maintenance?  If you were down for an hour, or for four hours, how much would it cost you?
For a company that can't afford an outage of any length, if it would cost them more than the price difference between the 3560 and the 4500, the 4500 is a better choice.
Do you see your needs growing beyond the 3560 in the next 3-5 years?  Or would you expect this to be sufficient even considering that growth.  That could be another factor in your decision.
 
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by:from_exp
from_exp earned 150 total points
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Hi, yepp, I agree, 3560 is very good.
However, 3560 could not be compared to 4500 - they are very different. In some cases it is possible to compare 4500 with 3750, because 3750 could be stacked to provide additional redundancy and ports.
In case of 3560 you are limited to 1U switch or you have to use 1G or 10G ports for uplinks, which is not the same as chassis or stacking.
In terms of performance 3560 is also weaker then 4500 or 3750

From the other side, if you don't need all "extra" features, like better/faster bgp, chassis design, I also don't see reason why to pay more ;)
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by:sstone55423
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3560 actually has faster throughput than the 4500, however it is limited to the ports on the unit.  As soon as you link via 1G port, to another switch you lose that.  I still say the primary difference is reliability, fault tolerance and capability to recover quickly when down time is lost revenue for you or your clients.
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by:Bill_Hollings
ID: 22746916
Thanks for your answers.

The primary use is to concentrate 10 incoming circuits into one or two circuits connecting to a blade chassis. Our needs are aggregate under 100Mbps and about 40,000 packets per second. There are several years growth included, and further growth through upscaling to more advanced switches if we ever get to that point. We plan to handle redundancy and failure through duplicate switches (eg- a pair of 3560's) to give us route diversity from the firewall on one side of the switch to the blade chassis on the other.

Thanks for the insights on Layer 4, uplink usage, and stacking.
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Author Closing Comment

by:Bill_Hollings
ID: 31507021
Thanks again.
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