Switch refresh/upgrade


We have a single catalyst 4500 in our datacenter. It's a WS-C4507R+E with an ipbase license. It has
2x48 10/100/1000BaseT Premium POE blades,
2x4 Supervisor 10GE (SFP+), 1000BaseX (SFP) blades in active & standby hot,
1x12 1000BaseX (SFP) blade and
1x12 10GE (SFP+) blade.

In the interest of replacing this EOL switch, I am looking for a replacement which will last 10-15 years which can easily handle this environment with the possibility of growth and scalability to accommodate modern servers coming with 10GE NICs. I'm also interested in having it in HA mode.

We also have 2960S in stacked an unstacked modes connected to this 4500 via fiber. What can be a good replacement for them also?

Thank you.
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atlas_shudderedSr. Network EngineerCommented:
netcmh - I'd suggest looking at the nexus line, specifically the 9K series.  We started installing this series to replace our existing 65 and 45K infrastructure about a year and a half ago and have been geeked at both the difference it has made from and operational and capability perspective.  The Nexus series takes some getting used to but overall the learning curve is well worth the advantages are well worth the trouble.

Depending on our deployment scenario and needs, we run one of two models.  The first we run in a primarily gig connectivity scenario, wherein we run a 93180 at the core with 10G uplinks to FEX or 3850 stacks, etc at top of rack or closets.  In a couple of these cases we have also pinned in 3ks to better facilitate distribution, etc.  In the second model where higher 10G density is needed, we run chassis 9Ks with FEX and 3850/2960 at the access layer.

Just my 2 cents.  Let me know if you'd like more detail or reasoning.  Thanks

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netcmhAuthor Commented:
Thank you for your opinion. I appreciate it.

I'd like for other experts to weigh in as well.
netcmhAuthor Commented:
I was waiting on at least a second opinion before allotting points.

Moderator, please grant this question more expert visibility. Thank you.
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atlas_shudderedSr. Network EngineerCommented:
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You may not find that switches will last that long again. The trend is towards 1 RU fixed configuration switches. If you want a switch that will last that long, surely you won't keep it under Cisco SmartNet that long. If you're not having it under support, what's wrong with what you have now?

Whatever you choose I would expect that you would put into a VSS type configuration, where the two switches do a mind meld and act as one. It is how you get redundant supervisors but in two separate chassis.

What do you plan to connect to the switches? I see a lot of SFP/SFP+ ports. Is that for fiber over distance? I am looking at supplanting my 4948E ToR switches with some 10GBase-T switches with QSFP+ ports. That gives me both 1G and 10G copper interfaces, and I can use the QSFP+ ports to connect the two chassis together, and use DAC breakout cables to take a single QSFP+ port and connect to up to 4 SFP+ ports on the other end using DAC cables up to 7 M long.
Craig BeckCommented:
I'd say Nexus 9K isn't what you'd want. Look at the Cat 4500E with SUP8E or 9400 instead. They'll do everything you can now, and more, but also are DNA-ready.

Michael PfisterCommented:
netcmhAuthor Commented:
Thank you all for your ideas and opinions. I appreciate this very much,

Our systems admins are bringing in more and more servers with 10G capability and we are unable to provide those speeds with our limitations.
VOIP, Oracle RAC, ESXi expansion to accommodate more in-house development are some requirements for next year and I would like the infrastructure in place before those projects get underway.
I definitely want an affordable redundant solution that's easily manageable and scalable. And, we would like to geek out on security as well.
EOL and EOS is definitely a consideration. I'd like to get the best bang for the buck as it's always tough getting the budget approved.
netcmhAuthor Commented:
While I do like to award the points as you suggested, Michael; I would very much like this discussion and suggestions to continue as I am not yet sold on any solution yet.
Personally, I just ordered a pair of Dell S4048T-ON switches. For 5 years of support, the price was a little more than half of a Cisco solution, and I let Cisco know that but Cisco wouldn't come down any more on price.

These particular Dell switches have 48 ports of 100/1000/10G Base-T ports and 6 40GbE ports. The 40GbE ports can be broken down into 10Gb ports with a breakout cable. Each switch is independent, but they have virtual trunking so a pair of them can look like a single switch when using LACP. This to me is probably better than VSS since there is less concern about taking the whole VSS down when doing an upgrade.

The Dell S series is from the Force10 line, which was very well regarded before Dell acquired them many years ago.

I can't tell you about any fancy security stuff.
atlas_shudderedSr. Network EngineerCommented:
The goal post keeps moving on this question.  The original post was for suggestions for replacement vendor/equipment.  Based on the only information that was presented, multiple answers have been provided recommending multiple vendors.  The only two bigger names that I don't see right of the bat are Meraki (I don't think they have anything in the space) and Arista.  Oh, I don't think I saw HP either but I'm not a fan.  Nor am I a fan of Dell as their switches are commodity not asset oriented.

I can understand the disagreement between 9K and 45K in the Cisco line.  That is going to come down to a question of whether you prefer a chassis based solution which will require you to pull all drops back to a common point (think cable nest to manage) or the ability to go top or rack.  The 45K will give you two chassis based devices that can be customized to your needs through blades but you will give up some benefits in the process including VPC, ToR reach and flexibility, and reduction in cable cost and management.  The 9K solution provides these capabilities with the ability to speeds of 1-100G production but you lose port density on the 9K itself.  You gain back the port density through ToR with FEX.  The challenge is determining the correct 9K for your environment.  To do that, there is significantly more information needed and a conversation with a reseller.  I'm sure that you could find a design engineer to help with that as well on here but anyone that is worth bringing on isn't going to design your network for free.

As to Arista, my exposure is limited but the arguments are going to be similar and the outcome the same.

The difference between Arista/Cisco and the other vendors mentioned.  First, IP networking is what they do.  All the other vendors mentioned have entered the space as competitors to fit a niche.  Aruba is name recognition but performance is not the same.  Additionally, they run COTS silicon pushing the toward the commodity market.  Dell and HP both began in the PC/Server world and seek to compete on name recognition and brand loyalty.  In other words, they are geared toward selling to sys admins who run their PCs/Servers and who are used to the throwaway to replace concept.  They just don't have the life or the reliability.  This isn't blind discrimination, the data is widely available on the web if you are willing to research it.  They are both fully commodity and I can tell you from experience that I have yet to be in a shop where reliability and configurability was needed and they have been a player.  Every shop that I have been in under those conditions, if they were tested, they rapidly fell off the table.  In shops having gone through mergers, Dell and HP have always been pushed out due to the prior listed needs.  The only time that I have ever seen either be taken seriously and have any staying power has been in shops that are very cost concerned and they were willing to take the risk, limitations and impact to get to the lowest dollar amount.

This question began as a request for recommendations and like other questions posted by this user, it is now deviating.  Making broad recommendations based on limited information is one thing.  "Selling" the author on a solution is something completely different and by it's very nature implies the need for consulting expertise.  To that end my suggestion would be that the author engage a consultant to assist as the question of what type of switches should be installed in a data center environment or at the core of a server farm is one which by requires consideration of numerous points beyond what type of equipment is being replaced, the number of drops and the desired speeds.

I am requesting further Administrator engagement to this question.
netcmhAuthor Commented:
LOL! atlas_shuddered: "like other questions posted by this user, it is now deviating". Really? What is this first grade? You'll get your points, man. Chill. All I've done is expanded on the background for the need for this solution so experts like yourself would have a better understanding of the need. Of course, I don't expect answers like that of a paid consultant, just an indication of which solution line's consultant to engage.
Craig BeckCommented:
I don't think nexus is the way to go. As I said previously, Cat platforms are the better option. Nexus is a different beast and a 9K nexus is a massive difference in technology and price.
netcmhAuthor Commented:
Looking at both, I do see the difference. I'm being  tasked to implement this and I have experience with CAT platforms. But, I didn't want that to be the deciding factor. One of my major factors is kinda future proofing this for at least a decade, not possible I know.
atlas_shudderedSr. Network EngineerCommented:
4 months open with no further solution inputs for just shy of a month.
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