Switch

Why Stackable Switches Are More Favored?

Up to now, there are three types of switching solutions: standalone, stacked, and chassis. According to researches, stackable network switches have been warmly welcomed by large data center, enterprise network and home networking over the years. Lots of Ethernet users intend to choose a stacked switching solution rather than standalone and chassis switching solutions. So what are the reasons behind this kind of preference? This article would provide a satisfied answer for you.

Stackable switching solution

Simplified management is the paramount advantage for all stacking. Before stacking came along, you had to attach multiple switches together and configure them separately by logging in with a different IP address one by one. As you may know or can imagine, this was a super tedious process. When stacking switches, they all share the same IP address and can be configured as one unit. Instead of looking like multiple separate switches, the solution actually looks like one switch with a larger amount of ports. In the following part, we would further analyze the merits of stackable switching solution.

brocad stackable switches

Benefits of stacking switches

In this text, we would mainly demonstrate the benefits of stacking switches from the aspect of simplicity, scalability, and flexibility.

—Flexibility

For environments where a combination of different port speed and media types are needed, such as a mix of copper gigabit Ethernet and fiber gigabit or 10 gigabit, stackable switches make this possible without needed independent switches or use of a large, perhaps oversized, chassis. We can add ports as we need them by simply purchasing another switch and adding it to the stack.

networking diagram of a stack

We can stack up to nine 3750-X switches and have 432 x 10/100/1000 ports and 18 x 10 Gbps ports. We can do this using only 9RU’s of rack space. A chassis would require over double the rack space to achieve this access port density. This makes these switches very popular as top-of-rack switches in the data center.

—Scalability

For resiliency, devices like servers, downstream switches, or other important devices can be connected via EtherChannel to the stack, with the ports in the EtherChannel spread across multiple switches in the stack. This setup allows for a failure of a switch in the stack with minimal forwarding interruption and any connected hosts still active with only a performance loss.

—Simplicity

A stack of Ethernet switches appears to the operator and the rest of the network as one single switch, making it easier to manage and configure. Newer switch models add stateful failover capability, providing similar behavior as a chassis with dual supervisors in case of a failure or the need to update software on the stack.

Conclusion

This article mainly explained the reasons of people’s preference for stacking switches from three points—simplicity, scalability, and flexibility. When you are looking for a stacking switch, there are some questions you need to consider. How many switches can go into a stack? How far apart can they be stacked? What is the speed of the backplane? What technologies do you need and what can the switch be stacked with? All of these points attach great importance to your stacking switches. And thus, please take a careful consideration before you buy a stacking switch.

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