I'm working on a network migration project as we will be moving our local office.

In the new building we have 5 floors with 50 employees in each one. I need 5 switches with at least 72 ports that support VLAN and STP and a switch layer 3 that will be in data center, and that will interconnect servers to others switches.

I need VLANs to be capable of full GigE-communication between ports, and at least 4 fiber ports as the link between the data center and floors is fiber.

We have an HP Procurve 5803xl switch that will be in the data center, but it's missing some GbE modules and also mini-GBIC modules for fiber Ethernet.

While looking for Ethernet switch with Gb support I came with some candidates SMC, Netgear, Nortel or may be others? Based on your experience what is the most stable of these switches? Also what would be the future topology for such network ?

  • edit: removed references to fiber channel as FC is a protocol that runs over fiber links instead of Ethernet (simplified :) ) – MikeyB Jan 28 '10 at 17:27
  • What is your overall budget for this? – tegbains Jan 29 '10 at 4:58
  • right i think that, the better solution that i will choice is HP products, with big budget over 40000$, else i'll look for 3com or Enterasys, what do you think ? – Ali Mezgani Jan 30 '10 at 1:38
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    I'd avoid 3com. They were in the enterprise market, then they left, now they're owned by HP, so who knows what's going on with them. Maybe the 3com stuff will be taken over by HP, maybe it'll just be orphaned? There are plenty of vendors out there so you don't need to bother with the nortels (love their switches, actually) or the 3coms of the world. – chris Feb 2 '10 at 16:49

You're question isn't super clear on what your needs are when it comes to speed of the ports. Are you running 100mbit or 1Gbit to each desktop? Either way I would stick with HP for the following reasons.

  • HP makes a great product.
  • Life time warranty (with no support contracts), I don't know of any other vendor that has this currently.
  • Keeping the network equipment single vendor makes managing the network much easier.

I've also had good luck with the Dell PowerConnect switches in cases where budget didn't allow for HP.

But I tend to avoid NetGear after a few bad experiences. I can't speak on the other brands you mention since I haven't had any first hand experience.

  • Enterasys and Extreme also offer lifetime hardware replacement on their non-chassis switches. – chris Jan 28 '10 at 18:18
  • I would avoid Dell PowerConnect. I had a long-running support issue, in the end, they acknowledged the bugs, and told me they had decided to not fix them. This after stringing me along for more than a year. Stick to HP. – kmarsh Jan 29 '10 at 14:58

I'll assume a totally clean slate install here:

You should have two L3 routers so you can upgrade the firmware on one while the other allows your users to work. It's also nice if one of them fails or otherwise misbehaves.

Just as example topology I'd suggest, I'd have a pair of Extreme Summit X650 routers for the "core" and have 10g uplinks from each core to each floor's stack. These have 24 sfp+ interfaces, so you'd be able to start off with gig uplinks to your edge, then if you need it, you'd be able to upgrade to 10g by replacing your optical modules.

At the edge, I'd have stacks of Enterasys C3 switches on each floor. They come in 24 and 48 port models, support POE, and they're stackable, so you'd only have to manage configs on one "device" in each closet. Run one vertical to each switch in the stack and run STP. These also have optional 10g modules, and have a whole bunch of amazing policy enforcement functionality.

How many fiber pairs are you running between the floors? You are using fiber in the vertical runs, right?

  • right, and there are 6 fibers pairs on each floor, there are no communication between floors, the core switch must do it, and the link between floor and core switch must be on fibre – Ali Mezgani Jan 28 '10 at 18:25
  • Is there any support of jumbo frame on Enterasys ? – Ali Mezgani Jan 30 '10 at 1:36
  • MTU up to 9216. We don't do any jumbo frames so I don't have direct experience with it. They're crazy switches, though -- the policy enforcement stuff is so advanced it is hard to believe it exists and nobody else knows about it. – chris Jan 30 '10 at 3:03

Without going into gory details on your specific setup (your networking reseller should be helping you with this) I'll make some suggestions:

  • Stick to one vendor for your switches (Sounds like you already have HP)
  • You'll want 2 access switches per floor (48+24 or 48+48) rather than trying to find a single 72-port switch
  • Remember that the only difference between Ethernet over Copper and Ethernet over Fiber is the medium
  • You may want to get a second core switch; if that fails you're done for

I'm sure you don't mean 'FC' and 'Fibre Channel' surely? it can be done, but I imagine you mean 'by fibre'. Also do you mean a 5308xl switch?

What you're trying to do is actually very straightforward, if you're happy with your procurve then I'd suggest you stick with them. Put TWO 48 port 100/1000 switches (something like a 2848) per floor for the users with dual fibres running to your core switch/es (I'd be tempted to buy a second core switch) and repeat for each floor assigning a different vlan to each switch and let your core L3 switches do the routing.


As most everyone has already said, stay with a single manufacturer for each type of device (so one switch source and one router source, they don't need to be the same, but it makes some things simpler). Most "large" switches will have one or two slots, where you can plug in a fibre interface. If you're looking at having some redundancy, I'd have two core switches, each floor uplinking to both of them.

If you need ~72 ports per floor, I'd possibly consider uplinking one switch to Core1 and the other to Core2, then cross-linking the switches and tweak the spanning tree to have either one of the floor switches or one of the cores as the root (depends on if your traffic is mostly core-to-floor or within-the-floor).

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