[CentOS] [OT] Network switches

Tue Mar 24 15:59:54 UTC 2009
nate <centos at linuxpowered.net>

Rainer Duffner wrote:

> Switch performance is extremely difficult to measure IMO. You need
> enough clients to make sure you're not accidentally measuring
> client-performance.

There's also a lot more to switches than pure performance, line
rate switches have been around for at least a decade(switches
that have enough bandwidth to have every port running at 100%

If your running only a layer 2 network(who does that anymore?)
then perhaps performance is the best measure, but for the
well known top performing manufacturers of gear raw performance
hasn't been something to be concerned about for some time in
the 10/100 and GigE space.

Now 10GigE is still kind of new as far as high density line
rate, most chassis switches are not even line rate if you
fully populate them with 10Gig ports.


(no particular order)
HP - Good for the lifetime warranty, lower support(contract)
     costs. Advantages for an HP shop since they likely tie in
     nicely to HP management tools.
Extreme - Mature next-gen linux-based OS that's easy to use,
          lots of advanced functionality included out of the
          box. With a couple exceptions, line rate for 10+ years.
Force10 - Leader in port density and switch performance, though
          it's been a couple years since I've seen a new
          product, most of their products are 4+ years old but
          still compete extremely well even today. NetBSD next-gen
          OS, still kind of new. Line rate since their inception
          almost a decade ago. Looks like they just released a new
          10gig chassis yesterday. Was the undisputed 10gig leader
          for a while, others have since caught up, though this
          new product may put them way ahead again haven't looked
          in depth.
Foundry(now Brocade) - Another leader in port density and
          switch performance, best known perhaps for it's interface
          clone of IOS. So if your used to Cisco you can adapt to
          these pretty easily and get much better performance. Not
          sure where they are at on their next gen OS. Line rate
          for a long time, perhaps 10+ years too. Unlike Extreme
          and Force10 Foundry offers products targeted specifically
          to do high performance routing(NetIron), as well as
          load balancing(ServerIron). Most of their edge switches
          are 1.5U instead of 1U, though they include hot swap
          internal power supplies. Most vendors rely on external
          power supplies for redundancy. Foundry used to have some
          non Ethernet offerings(e.g. T1, DS3 etc), but have since
          like many others eliminated all non Ethernet products.
Cisco - overpriced, under performing almost across the board, I'm
        looking at replacing some older Cisco 7300 routers(which
        they still sell), with something from Foundry, their LOW
        end router is more than seven hundred times faster than
        the Cisco 7300, and the price is comparable. Cisco has
        a broad range of operating systems. Management is
        incredibly complex. Can be a "one stop shop" for most things
        network related, but while they share a common brand don't
        let them fool you into making you think they are well
        integrated and easy to use.

Juniper - Somewhat new to the basic switch space though their
        48-port 1Gig 1U switches are feature packed with gobs of
        flash, RAM, hot swap fan trays and power supplies
        (rare for a 1U switch), and a very fast stacking port(over
        100Gbps if I recall). Juniper is of course best known for
        it's routers, and more recently firewalls after it bought
        NetScreen(?) a few years ago. I think their new switches
        use the same BSD(FreeBSD perhaps?) based OS that their
        high end routers do, if so it's very mature on the
        software side.

3COM - Not familiar to much with their recent products though
       personally weary of the company itself, it's working hard
       to get back into the enterprise space after abandoning it
       a decade or more ago.

Linksys/NetGear/D-link/etc - if this is your price point then
        that's your price point, I'd suggest at least getting
        a good set of layer 3 switches for the network core.

I personally have kept very close eyes on Extreme, Force10 and
Foundry's product lines for 5 years or so, and more recently
looking at Juniper as well. The sort of technology behind these
products is very interesting to me, I'm the sort of person who
will spend hours reading data and spec sheets on them.

I only have personal experience with Extreme, Cisco, and Linksys
(1 switch).