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Is it a bad idea to mix brands of switches?

Posted on 2010-11-16
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
We plan to install a couple fiber links from  2 lower level floors that have HP Procurve 2324 switches using  j4131b transceivers to a Dell Powerconnect 2724  gigabit switch in our 2nd floor server room.  Would this be a mistake mixing brands?  We already have the equipment, but have to buy the fiber transceivers for them.  I was thinking it might be better to try and get a HP Procurve 2810-24G off E-bay to use instead of the Dell switch.   Also, should I be concerned with mixing the mini-GBIC and regular transceivers like the J4131b, as long as they are the same gigabit SX type?  Any input would be helpful.
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Question by:cheryl23
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sandipshah earned 167 total points
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Usually, it is a bad idea to mix the switches - IF you are doing that with fiber transceivers.

One does not know if the communication between switches (of the same type) follows standards, or is a vendor specific thing.

If you can, try to avoid mixing the switches.

You can mix them on the network - since everything is 10/100/1000 Mbps on cable, following 802 standards ... but with fiber, it may not be worth risking it.

Unless you have spare equipment lying around that you want to test out.

Ss
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by:dacasey
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I have a mix of HP, Dell and Cisco connected by fiber.  It all works but you may bump into terminology differences when configuring.  Things like QOS and VLAN tagging may not be supported.

It may take some extra effort...
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by:Ken Boone
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Well here is why people mix switches:

#1)  they already have brand X and they need more switches and they shop on price.  hence different brands
#2)  they need to replace switches but don't have money for all and they buy brand X and plan on going to brand X completely but it takes time to get there.

The majority of the time its folks who want the cheapest price.  Also, this is also the type of company that typically just throws the switch into the network and doesn't fool around with any optimization and best practice configurations.

The main reason not to mix switches is because now you have to learn all of the nuances of brands X, Y, and Z.  Even though you are comfortable with brand X, you have a problem with a brand Y switch and you just aren't as familiar troubleshooting on brand Y so it takes more time for problem resolution.

Hope that helps.
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by:cheryl23
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Thanks for all the feedback.  Our senerio is that we already have the equipment.  The only 24 port gigabit switch we have is the Dell, which I have all the servers, routers and uplinks from other floors plugged in to, all unmanaged modes.  We are a non-profit agency with limited funds, and while we were having some new cabling installed,  I got approval to install fiber links from the 2 other floors which currently use Cat5.  So, now while pricing transceivers and looking at the additional investment in the project, the question of continuing to use the Dell with the HP's came up.  I would hate to purchase the transceivers for the Dell and find that I get poor performance or other problems due to mixing brands.  That's the scoop.
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by:Ken Boone
Ken Boone earned 166 total points
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You should be able to connect the fiber without problem as long as you use the same type of transceiver modules.  i.e.  shorthaul sfp or longhaul sfp.
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