Multi-Unit Stacking – Going beyond the standards

Switch stacking is a technology that connects multiple physical switches into a single logical switch. Network administrators can add or remove switches to increase or decrease port count without getting a multi-card chassis switch and dealing with the configuration of multiple switches. The network can evolve over a period with a pay as you grow model and therefore benefit from both the switch vendors and their customers.

Leading switch vendors like Cisco, Juniper, HPE, Dell, Extreme Networks, Huawei, etc., support stacking in their enterprise and campus switch models. Leading silicon vendors like Broadcom and Marvell also support feature extensions that enable switch stacking. Performance is best if the underlying hardware also supports stacking, but switches can be stacked even without hardware support for the feature. Though the goals and objectives of stacking are the same, vendor implementations are completely proprietary.

In this white paper, we will discuss the objectives, topologies, operations and maintenance of stacked switches, and also look at some specific vendor implementations to compare them.

MULTI-UNIT STACKING - GOING BEYOND THE STANDARDS

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