To Stack or Not To Stack

Posted on 2011-10-19
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
I don't handle any of the network gear at my work, only the Voip equipment.  While talking over a new network design with one of the "network" guys for a new location, I asked him why he isn't just stacking the 3750s and 2960s that are going into the location.  He never answered me, despite all the switches ordered are the stackable kind.   I cannot think of any technical reasons to NOT stack them, but it isn't really my forte (despite doing so in a previous position).

Can anyone think of any technical reasons (i.e. Cons) to stacking these switches? Or possible a best practice from Cisco showing they prefer stacking/no stacking them?

Thanks for helping my understanding of this!!!
Question by:sr75
    LVL 3

    Assisted Solution

    The only cons that may crop up is if the stack master fails or if there is a ios bug.
    For failure, the stack undergoes master election and continues working with very little downtime and no loss of current configuration. you will have only lost the ports on that one physical switch. A problem may be experienced if you have different ios feature sets on the other switches - ensure you are running identical feature sets on all switches and this won't be an issue.

    If there is some sort of ios bug, because the switch is one logical entity, it affects all switches within the stack. This then comes back to a reload or ios upgrade, depending on what is needed to correct the issue.

    Verdict: - stack them.

    imho, the benefits outweigh the risks.
    LVL 10

    Assisted Solution

    You should stack them!
    As the "network guys" are outsource (from what I can understand) , request to stack them!
    There are only cons for stacking them!! You can manage switches as a single big one, you have higher throughput than two or three portchannel ports, less changes to have a problem with a cable and a few more ports!!!

    LVL 1

    Accepted Solution

    - Single logical switch to maintain instead of managing each switches separately. Single IP addressing for interface, vlans... single DNS name
    - Ease of provisioning of new switches --> If you have a remote site and at that place you need to add/replace switch in the stack then stacking is good compared to not stacking. As you can push IOS and configuration from master switch. With not stacking you may need to find ways of establishing connectivity with new switch and then upload IOS and configuration or provide configuration to on-site technician who may not be from your company.
    - 2960 - 10G/20G - 3750 - 32G/64G - higher throughput with stack cable fully connected

    - IOS must be identical on each member switch so if you have only purchased one switch with EMI(Enhance multilayer image) and other switches are ipbase-SMI(Standard Multilayer Image) then you need to pay extra(to run EMI on all rest of the switches) to Vendor if you want to stack them with EMI feaure or you get SMI.
    whereas with not stacking you can have one switch with EMI others with SMI.
    - With 3750s We have been in a situation where one switch failed and for some reason every switch in stack re-booted(without any power event) but I believe that is very uncommon
    - Little bit of staff training on stacking if not used before

    Stacking is prefered way.
    LVL 15

    Author Comment

    Thanks everyone!!!  That is what I thought, I just wanted to make sure I was not crazy suggesting they be stacked because he apparently was really offended by the suggestion.

    Mexile - Thanks for the Document!!!

    Ampranti - our network guys are internal actually.

    jigardave - had that same thing happen to me in a previous job.
    LVL 15

    Author Closing Comment

    Thanks for proving to me I am not  that crazy!

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