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Aaron’s blog on Networking, and Enterprise Technology

Juniper replacing Cisco?

Okay, well, maybe not *that* dramatic, but it got you reading, didn’t it? 🙂

So, in a previous post, I mentioned how impressed I was in Juniper’s EX switching line. I mean, they were running the internet (and most ISP’s still are), so they must know Ethernet and IP pretty well, right?

Well, after using 1 Juniper EX 3200 switch, I was impressed at the features it gave, and compared extremely well to managing Cisco’s. There is a bit of a learning curve, but once you get over it, you start appreciating the different ways you maintain it. Especially if you have a *nix background, as JUNOS is built on BSD.

So, based on my experience on that one switch, I decided to go for it. I purchased 4 Juniper 4200 switches to be placed in a stack for my L2/L3 Server backbone. The cost difference was significant if I wanted to do the same thing with Cisco’s 3750’s. However, one of the biggest differences with the “Virtual Chassis” that the Juniper’s implement and *not* Cisco, is the ability to use a 10Gb uplink (copper or fiber) to attach to another switch for the virtual switch fabric. Yes, that means, if you use fiber, you can have another switch several km away, and still participate in the Virtual Chassis. Though, I’m not using that implementation, it’s impressive to see.

The specs are just about even across the board between the Cisco 3750 (10/100/1000) and the Juniper 4200 (10/100/1000) switches. One of the differences is that the Juniper only has 8 PoE ports, though, that doesn’t matter to me in this implementation, as this is only for a server backbone, but still a difference nonetheless.

Another difference is in the stacking backplane. Cisco’s Stacking cables are 32Gbps each, giving a total switching fabric of 64Gbps between switches. Juniper’s cables are rated at 64Gbps each, giving a total switching fabric of 128Gbps between switches.

I haven’t quite gotten into the QoS piece just yet, which is a flaw in my part. Though I know the Juniper switch has QoS features (8 queues per port), I should have worked with it more before implementing these 4200’s. A bit of an oversight, that I hope won’t come back to haunt me later. I haven’t looked at marking CoS on these switches yet. Anyone have any thoughts/experience?

While I still wouldn’t consider replacing my core with Juniper just yet, I do plan on implementing them at my access-layer.

If you have not considered Juniper yet for your switching-line, I highly recommend you give them a shot. Again, there is a small learning curve, but worth it.

2 responses to “Juniper replacing Cisco?

  1. DataPlumber April 26, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Nice article – I really rate the EX switches, although I’ve currently no idea what the price difference against a Cisco product would be.

    It seems to me that Cisco, Extreme and Juniper all do a kind of ‘virtual chassis’ solution via their stacking cable. What makes Juniper different is that you can link one virtual chassis to another via the 10G or 1G ports on the front – and they can both be managed as one unit. That means two stacks in two datacentres can be separated by fibre of some distance. The one caveat to this is that the fibre interlinks need to be clear-wire – i.e. if there’s another device doing framing between the two datacentres, it probably won’t work.

    I just wondered: what’s keeping you from replacing your core switches with Juniper? Would be interested to hear your concerns – I’ve not installed a purely Juniper switched network yet, so any worries would be interesting to hear.

    • Aaron Paxson May 3, 2010 at 6:22 pm

      Really, it’s a matter of intellect. My knowledge of Cisco far exceeds that of Juniper. The more I learn, the more comfortable I’ll feel about it.

      Plus, when you invest almost $100K in your core switches, you really don’t want to replace unless it’s necessary.

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