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Best Cisco Switches For Small & Medium Business

Best Cisco Switches For Small & Medium Business
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Many modern medium-sized business organizations are increasingly choosing Cisco products to organize their corporate networks. Network devices from Cisco Systems have long earned a reputation as the most reliable and efficient systems. In this case, it is quite difficult to navigate in a huge range of equipment of this company. Let’s try to answer the question of which models of switches are suitable for small enterprises, with about 250 employees. Let us dwell on the choice of the network environment, as the most important basis for the further development of the enterprise’s IT infrastructure.

In this article, we will give an overview of the main differences between the switch lines, as well as show how this fits into the Cisco Networks Without Borders architecture.

A stable network is the foundation of any infrastructure.

When organizing an IT infrastructure, it is important to determine what will be used as the foundation of the infrastructure, what equipment will be relevant not only now, but also in the near future, and how this choice may affect the business performance in the future.

Today it is difficult to imagine an IT infrastructure that does not use the network.

The main purpose of any network infrastructure is to organize effective communication for employees to work together. Often, the effectiveness of teamwork depends on various factors. Consider what affects network equipment.

One of the most important elements of a modern network infrastructure is access switches. This is the very equipment that creates the opportunity to work in a single network.

Cisco access switches.

Cisco Systems offers many switch lines. Small companies should pay attention primarily to the most common series of Cisco Catalyst 2960.

These devices are popular among users, because they represent a good combination of reliability, price and functionality. These devices are able to fully meet the needs of a small enterprise. If you compare the capabilities of this equipment with other Cisco solutions, their functionality may not be the widest. But when comparing these switches with offers from our closest competitors, it turns out that the basic functionality of Cisco devices benefits noticeably. One of the key principles of Cisco Systems is the availability of high technologies for ordinary consumers. If necessary, if the basic functionality of these switches is not enough, you can always add a number of high-end switches.

Cisco switches 100 Mb / s.

To provide communication at a speed of 100 Mb / s, the company offers devices of the Catalyst 2960 Plus line. The main advantage of these devices is their price.

The figure shows the devices in this series.

Figure 2. Cisco Catalyst 2960 Plus Series Switches

The most popular models in this line are WS-C2960 + 24PC-L and WS-C2960 + 48PST-L. The switches are equipped with access ports of 100 Mb / s, two uplinks (copper / fiber) at 1 Gb / s. PoE technology is supported.

Another model worth noting is the WS-C2960 + 24LC-L. The twisted pair power can be given to 8 ports, but at the same time its price is much lower. If you are not sure that you need PoE technology support, this option is for you. If you are looking for a switch, figuring out prospects for further growth, you should not take this model.

Cisco 1 Gbps Switches

If 100 MB / s is not enough for you, consider the Cisco Catalyst 2690-X range of switches. These switches are equipped with 1Gb / s access ports, as well as four copper or optical ports. These devices support stacking. Particular attention should be paid to Cisco Catalyst 2960-XR switches. These devices are equipped with a backup power supply and support basic routing functions. If you are looking for a 1 Gb / s stackable switch with PoE technology and basic Layer 3 routing functions, consider the WS-C2960XR-48FPS-I model as an option.

Cisco Compact Switches.

If you analyze the prices of devices on the market, you will see that taking a device with 48 ports is more profitable than 24 or less. In terms of 1 port such devices are cheaper, and in addition you save space in the rack. However, it often happens that there is simply no need for such a large number of ports. Enough 8 or 12, for example, when you need to connect two neighboring cabinet.

In this case, you need Catalyst Compact switches. This series includes Layer 2 switches based on the Catalyst 2960 and Layer 3 switches based on the Catalyst 3560 that support PoE technology on access ports. These devices can be powered through twisted pair and uplinks. The figure below shows the images of these devices.

Figure 3. Compact Series Switches the Cisco the Catalyst 2960- the C and the Cisco the Catalyst 3560- the C 

You can choose from models WS-C3560CPD-8PT-S (level 3, 8 ports), WS-C2960CPD-8PT-L (level 2, 8 ports) and WS-C2960C-12PC-L (level 2 12 ports). The devices are made in a compact white case and are characterized by extremely low noise levels, so they are excellent for use in office space.

With the use of these devices, you can quickly deploy a network in any room, ranging from meeting rooms, to the conference hall. These devices provide up to 100 additional meters covered with copper cable, which saves on optical connections.

Cisco Aggregation Level Switches

To connect to the network of 250 people will need at least 6 switches. Most often, they simply refuse to simply connect them together, the reason being in the design basics of modern network infrastructures.

Typically, devices are connected to an aggregation switch, which allows all switches in a network to be connected into a single infrastructure. To achieve greater fault tolerance, you can add another switch at the aggregation level. If this is not done, it may turn out that a single aggregation switch will become a single point of failure for 250 employees.

In addition, using the aggregation switches you get the opportunity to save on expensive functionality (for example, level 3), because in this case it is enough to acquire these functions for the aggregation level switch without using them on the access level switches.

Traditionally, Catalyst 3750 switches are most often used as an aggregation device. They are still relevant in this capacity, but the company can offer new rulers that are more productive and functional. When choosing switches for the aggregation level, it is worth considering the WS-C3650-24PS-E models (for aggregation of copper connections only) and WS-C3850-24S-S (for aggregation of copper and optical connections).

Figure 4. Cisco Catalyst 3650 SwitchFigure 5. Cisco Catalyst 3850 Switch

Cisco switches for 10G core.

If you need a 10G kernel level switch, then there are no two options – Cisco Catalyst 4500-X. This is a high-performance switch, made in a 1U form factor. It comes with 16, 24, 32 1G / 10G ports and can be expanded with modules of 8 ports each.

Figure 6. Cisco Catalyst 4500X series switch.

Pay attention to the model WS-C4500X-24X-ES. This switch comes with 24 SFP 1 / 10G ports and supports Enterprise services firmware. Devices of this series can be assembled into a single virtual device using VSS technology. The functionality of these devices is quite comparable with the capabilities of the modular switches of the Catalyst 4500E series.

Cisco Modular Switches.

If your organization has employees sitting right next to the server room, or you need to arrange power over twisted pair, you need 1G optics to aggregate remote switches, or you need a 10G interface, it makes sense to think about one of the Cisco Catalyst 4500E modular switches models.

To organize a reliable production core, a WS-C4503E-S7L + 48V + kit with several expansion slots is sufficient. If you need to collect all the devices in one server room, the appropriate solution would be the WS-C4506E-S7L + 96V + kit.

Figure 7. Cisco Catalyst 4500E Series Switches.

The most universal models for various tasks.

So, summing up, let us dwell on models that are suitable for specific tasks:

  • Access Level Switches, 100 Mb / s: Cisco Catalyst 2960 Plus Series
  • Access / Aggregation Level Switches, 1 Gb / s: Cisco Catalyst 2690-X, 2960-XR series.
  • Compact Access Level Switches: Cisco Catalyst Compact Series.
  • Aggregation Level Switches, 1 Gb / s: Cisco Catalyst 3750 Series, Cisco Catalyst 3650, Cisco Catalyst 3850.
  • Kernel Level Switch, 1/10 Gb / s: Cisco Catalyst 4500-X.
  • Aggregation and Core Modular Switches, 1/10 Gb / s: Cisco Catalyst 4500E Series.

Of course, this list can be added, but our goal was to give you initial information about the choice of switch models, depending on the tasks that need to be solved.

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