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Network Design - Core and Distribution

Scott Hanson


I have 2 locations that are going to be connected by fiber to make the total endpoints around 300 users.  I am thinking of recommending dual 6500's at the core with 3850 switches backhauled by fiber to the 6500s and utilizing the 3850s for the access/distribution layer.  Running Cisco voice and wireless and soon video.

Can anyone give me a high level opinon of this setup?  I know I am going to get pushback on the cost but I want the performance to be spectacular. Thinking of the blades I can put in the 6500s as well.

Thanks.  All replies rated.

5 Replies 5

Leo Laohoo
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Something big is coming around.  It will be formally announced during Cisco Live 2013 Orlando.  I'd recommend you wait and listen for it before making the decision.

Rick Morris
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There are a few missing pieces before knowing what to propose.

In the core design, what is going to be connected to it, servers, switches, etc...?  The intent of understanding is how much port density is needed.  If you are only looking for dual connections via VSS you can accomplish the same thing with the 4500X series.  They are great core switches without the need for blades and additional functions.  You can go with a 16 port model, which has the option of going to 24 via an 8port expansion or the 32 port.  They 10Gb interfaces which support lesser speeds, all the interfaces are labeled as TenGigabitEthernet.  The configuration is very straight forward as well.

A collapsed access/distribution is fine, but depends on the model and layout of the topology.  If you have a lot of closets then it might make sense to have the layered separation and add a distribution switch in the mix per location as you centralize all the access in the building.

With cost being a factor you can find the 4500X around $8k each.

If you have servers in the mix then it would also want to look at a top of rack solution in the data center, which depends on how many servers, racks, etc...  Then options there are to look at the Nexus line with FEX.

Frequent Contributor
Frequent Contributor

I concur with Rick I think 6500 for 300 users is kind of an overkill.  4500X's are great I have used 4948E's as well in GLBP configuration for that many users but 4500X with VSS support is definitely a much better option now.

Leo Laohoo
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Joseph W. Doherty
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For 300 users, if wiring permits, one large 4500 or 6500 chassis would easily handle them.  If you want performance to be spectacular, you can't beat all hosts communicating across the fabric of a high capacity chassis.  (Remember 2 or 3 layers designs are to really handle scalability, i.e. how to efficiently design when you need more than a single device.)

If wiring doesn't permit bringing all hosts to a single chassis, for that number of users, a collapsed core/distribution would be suitable.  If you're still looking for spectacular performance, you'll want gig or 10g at the edge, and ideally 40 or 100g for your uplinks.  An alternative for 40 or 100g uplinks might be Etherchannelled 10g.  What might be the best core/distribution and edge devices would depend much on what host you can connect to what device.

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