Advice on what Switch to Purchase

Declan_Basile
Declan_Basile used Ask the Experts™
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We're determining the specifications for two Switches to use between Windows DataCenter hosts of HyperV virtual servers and their SAN.  Is there any reason to get switches with SFP ports, given that the length of cable will only be about 10 feet and that cat 6's capacity is 10 GB (the same as SFP)?  I'm thinking that a 10 GB managed switch with only RJ45 ports would be much less expensive than one that has SFP ports.  We want to use port channel to pair ports of the separate switches together for performance and redundancy, and we want a switch with at least 16 ports.  What is the least expensive switch you recommend?
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Andy BartkiewiczNetwork Analyst

Commented:
I recommend the Cisco 2960x. If you want 10 Gig capability you will need SFPs. Only Fiber gives you that
Technical Architect - HA/Compute/Storage
Commented:
NETGEAR XS716T switch pair would be quite reasonable in cost. We have quite a few of these set up as fabric between clustered Scale-Out File Server and clustered Hyper-V.

I suggest avoiding Ubiquiti.
atlas_shudderedSr. Network Engineer

Commented:
Declan - The answer to your question is going to be more a function of what throughput you actually need.  Though a 2960 is by far one of the cheapest solutions out there, it may not fit your needs depending on what you are actually attempting to accomplish.

If 10G connections to the end hosts are what you need then a smaller switch isn't going to cut the mustard.  Additionally, depending on how your trunks are built, the port-channel could become a point of headache if you are only running 1g groups.

If on the other hand, you are using limited bandwidth and only need 10G for uplink, the 2960 may work, though I would probably still go with something with a larger buffer on the interfaces.

Regarding the SFP connections, this can be advantageous if you are using differentiated media and absolutely necessary if you are going to use fiber.

If you can post back some clarification, it would be easier to make a reasonable recommendation that will meet your expectations and needs.
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Author

Commented:
<<If you want 10 Gig capability you will need SFPs. Only Fiber gives you that >>  I thought that RJ45 Cat 6 gives you 10 GB over a short distance.

Atlas - We are going to have 2 - 16 core DataCenter Servers with 192 GB.  Each host will run approximately 8 servers.  Each host will have two 10 GB NICs.  We plan to run a cable from one NIC of a server to port 1 of one switch, from the other NIC of the same server to port 1 of another switch, and port channel the ports together to get 20 GB bandwidth.  On the SAN side will be a Dell SCv3000 SAN.  What other details are you looking for?
Andy BartkiewiczNetwork Analyst

Commented:
If you are going to hookup 10 GB NICS you will need to go really high end because those are the only switches that offer that. Something like a Cisco Nexus switch. I'm sure Juniper has a product that will do 10 GB ethernet, and probably be cheaper, but I don't have model numbers for that off the top of my head.

Author

Commented:
The NetGear ProSafe GS728TP is a managed switch with 24 - 10/100/1000 ports and is less than $500.  Does anyone see a reason why we shouldn't use this switch for what we are doing?
Martyn SpencerSoftware Developer / Linux System Administrator / Managing Director

Commented:
The NetGear ProSafe GS728TP is a managed switch with 24 - 10/100/1000 ports and is less than $500.  Does anyone see a reason why we shouldn't use this switch for what we are doing?
Did you not stipulate 10GB? Is that model not 1GB max? The NETGEAR XS716T as suggested earlier works well in my experience (for my workloads).
atlas_shudderedSr. Network Engineer

Commented:
Okay, in order to make the connections from the servers to your switches you have three switch integration technology options:

1. Stacking
2. VSS
3. VPC

Stacking is going to be on your Catalyst access switches.  The switches would be stacked together as one logical switch with a connection from the server to seperate switches in the stack.  The catch on this one is that you are going to be limited to your 10G connections going to sleds on the switches.  Extensibility is going to be limited.

VSS is a technology from the Catalyst chassis line.  Big backplanes, big buffers, big footprint and big price tag.

VPC - Nexus platform.  Same pro's/con's as the VSS but you can get them in a single U device and reduced price point.

I'd say stay away from the access switches and go with the Nexus.  Costing is going to be a bit more but it will address the immediate and give you some room to grow and to handle that growth moving forward.  In house, we use the 93180YCs.

Author

Commented:
Thank you everyone for your input.  We're going to try using two XP716T's.  If they don't perform well enough we can use them somewhere else in the company and buy more expensive switches, but it sounds like there is a good change that this switch will work for us.

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