Ethernet Switches & Routers

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Contributor
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎07-08-2011

Difference between these 3 switches

I'm trying to determine the differences between the following 3  switches. I see the product matrix, but I'm not as familiar with what  the differences actually mean.

The FWS648G, FCX648, and FCX648S.


I'm looking at these two product matrix sheets:

http://www.brocade.com/forms/getFile?p=documents/data_sheets/product_data_sheets/FastIron_WS_DS.pdf

http://www.brocade.com/forms/getFile?p=documents/data_sheets/product_data_sheets/fcx-series-ds.pdf

For example, how do I know if I need 96Gbps of switching performance or 176 or 200? And for forwarding performance?

What  does it mean when the FWS has 44 ports plus 4 combo ports vs the FCX  which has 48 ports plus 4 optional 1000 combo ports and 4 SFP+ or 2XFP  10 Gig ports? What features am I negating the ability to do if I get the  FWS instead of one of the FCX models?

What protocols am I gaining/losing depending on which I choose?

Do  each support multi-directional flow control? Equallogic recommends  switches that support flow control in both directions (send and  receive).

Finally, my understanding is that  there's a way to have full redundancy with 2 switches that don't have  stacking capability. Using spanning tree? This way I could plug

Super Contributor
Posts: 1,087
Registered: ‎12-13-2009

Re: Difference between these 3 switches

Hi JOT,

            Lot of questions

FWS - comes in 100MB or 100MB/1GB with no 10GB support

FCX-S Allows you to have 2 10GB ports per switch and also includes stacking

FCX-I/E Allow to you have 4 10GB ports but with no stacking

The feeds and speeds (switching performance and the like) are telling that these are full wire speed non-blocking switches. This is true for all 3 switches here.

Combo ports mean the 4 of the ports will have an RJ45 connector and a SFP connector so you can choose to use ether the copper (RJ45) or plug an transceiver (e.g. SX/LX for fiber runs) in but not both.

All three switches use the same code base, however different routing is support on the FCX (it can with a license include BGP support).

All three support Flow control as per IEEE 802.3x Flow control, though the FWS support is Asymmetric.

All three support spanning tree – note spanning tree is a layer 2 protocol that gives multipathing using active/standby on the links.

Now we have that background, the real question is what is it that you want to achieve with these two switches.  You state that you want to connect storage (assume iSCSI here)  and your servers into this setup.

If the switches will not be doing your routing and we have just your servers and storage connected and they all connect at 1GB speed then you would be better off with the FCX-S and use the stacking (as stacking is active/active).

However if the above is correct I would suggest you look at the VDX switches as they also support the extended flow control via PBFC and higher bandwidth ISL’s (Inter-Switch Links) instead of stacking.

Hope this helps.

Thanks

Michael.

Contributor
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎07-08-2011

Re: Difference between these 3 switches

Thanks for the answers. Some follow up questions and answers:

1. In one setup the switches will just be for iSCSI storage and the management connection for that storage. They will not be doing routing.

2. Aside from the loss of ports, what benefit does the stacking have over using spanning tree. We currently connect each SAN to the switch using 4 active ports. My goal was to put 2 on 1 switch and 2 on another so there's redundancy if one switch failed. I need them to be all active. If using a stack is the only way to have all be active, then that answers that question.

3. Can you explain what Asymmetric flow control is vs the other type and how that affects things in this iSCSI setup?

4. I don't understand your last statement that starts with "However..." because it seems like you already suggested what to use right above it.

5. I am not familiar with the VDX series. We are not providing any type of cloud based service or virtualized servers.

Super Contributor
Posts: 1,087
Registered: ‎12-13-2009

Re: Difference between these 3 switches

1. Aside from the loss of ports, what benefit does the stacking have over using spanning tree. We currently connect each SAN to the switch using 4 active ports. My goal was to put 2 on 1 switch and 2 on another so there's redundancy if one switch failed. I need them to be all active. If using a stack is the only way to have all be active, then that answers that question.

     ANSWER - two FWS switches will not work in this manner do to the port port lag from the storage.  Stack will work here.

3. Can you explain what Asymmetric flow control is vs the other type and how that affects things in this iSCSI setup?

     ANSWER -

Two flow controls mechanism for 802.3x:

Asimmetric mode

Only one piece of equipment will send pause packets, the other end just receives the packets and will not transmit pause frames

Simmetric mode

Both pieces of equipment can transmit and receive the pause packets.

So in the case of the FWS it will send pause frames but not receive them.

4. I don't understand your last statement that starts with "However..." because it seems like you already suggested what to use right above it.

     ANSWER - Yes the stack will work for you - and do a good job at this.

5. I am not familiar with the VDX series. We are not providing any type of cloud based service or virtualized servers.

     ANSWER - The VDX is a bit like a stack, but offers better control (of pause fames), bandwidth, and is a lossless fabric (much better for iSCSI).

NOTE on pause frame as defined in 802.3x and as defined in PBFC.  802.3x pause frame will stop (pause) the NIC or switch port to stop sending traffic.  PBFC pause frames will allow you pause (stop) traffic on iSCSI only while allowing other traffic to continue.  (provided it is setup correctly )

So in short, two FCX6xx-S boxes will do what you want, I just think you are better served by the VDX in this type of setup.  I would suggest you ask your Brocade SE or reseller's SE to do a whiteboard session with you on both FCX and VDX if you can.

Thanks

Michael.

Super Contributor
Posts: 1,087
Registered: ‎12-13-2009

Re: Difference between these 3 switches

Hi JOT,

     Does this give you enough infomration?

Thanks

Michael.

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎03-13-2011

Re: Difference between these 3 switches

Dont forget one of the BIG differences between the FWS and FCX line is the FCX supports Multicast Routing and the FCX Does not.  So if your planning on doing VoIP, Video, or Ghost just keep that in mind.

Jason

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎03-13-2011

Re: Difference between these 3 switches

One more note there is a Serious Cost Delta Between the FCX and VDX Switches.  For what you want to do with iSCSI and the FCX'es I have done Many times and it has worked flawlessly.  You take 2 FCX Switches Stack them together and use LACP or Static Trunking.  Brocade has a Document on exactly how to do this on FCX Switches I will see if I can find and attach it to this post.

Jason

Contributor
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎07-08-2011

Re: Difference between these 3 switches

Actually Jason, that right there is the biggest reason I would go FCX in our corporate office. We do use VOIP and plan on putting that on different vlans. You're saying we could not do that with FWS?

thanks for looking for that article. Unfortunately, the trunking thing is all new to me. I've seen it done in the gui and understand the whole idea, but still the relationship between all the terms confuse me. LACP, LAG, Trunk, Bridging, etc. Not to mention the Cisco vs Brocade terminology.

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎03-13-2011

Re: Difference between these 3 switches

You can put the VoIP traffic on Different VLANS but with the Phone Systems we install there are Many functions that are handled via Multicast Traffic.  Chief among them being Conference Calling, Time Keeping, and Station Button Status.   So I have had trials by fire when it comes to Multicast configurations and I learned the hard way to Avoid the FWS and Just stick to the FCX for layer 3 Stuff and FWS for when you just want to do Layer 2 Functions.

When it comes to all this trunking stuff at the end of the day LACP is the one you should get to know.  Etherchannel is "sorta" LACP by another name but its cisco Specific.  LACP is industry standard and will work between anyones switches.  Trunks Generally have 2 meanings.  First is the Vlan Trunking (LEARN THE DUAL MODE COMMAND BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS) the second is the multi port trunk.  An LACP Group is just an automatic multiport Trunk. 

I have Included the Brocade to Cisco Doc and the Brocade Config Cheat Sheet Which I keep printed out and folded inside my notebook for when I cant remember a command off the top of my head.

Jason

Super Contributor
Posts: 1,087
Registered: ‎12-13-2009

Re: Difference between these 3 switches

Hi JOT,

     Yes the FWS can do multicast rouing as can the FCX.  Think Jason was referring to the VDX as it will not do routing, however it can still snoop IGMP so it can be memeber of a multicast domain.

     However if you have requirements for VoIP and wishing to connect servers via LACP to two different switches then you single choice here is the FCX stackables. E.G. FCX624G-S, FCX648G-S, FCX624G-HPoE and FCX648G-HPoE (HPoE is the power over ethernet need to power the phones) .

     Note any of the FCX devices can be mixed and matched in a stack.

Thanks

Michael.

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