Layer 3 Switches

I’m looking to replace some access switches (Cisco Catalyst 3750 and 3560G). I really just need L2 features (stacking, PoE+, VLAN). I’ve found a 2960X that I like, but Cisco is pushing their 9200 series. The only downside I see is that the 9200s look to all have Layer 3 features. I’ve always shied away from L3 switches when I don’t need the L3 features, but I don’t have any solid reason not to just use the switches and turn off the L3 features I don’t need. I’m looking for thoughts on this approach.



While I can't speak for Cisco, L3 usually comes free (software licenses notwithstanding) from most vendors these days. The off-the-shelf silicon generally handles it along with L2 switching. I'm not sure if you can "turn off" the L3 features in IOS XE (which the 9200s run), but you can of course just not configure them if you don't need them.

Are you married to Cisco? The 9200 is not a bad pizza box platform, but you can definitely get comparable features and bandwidth cheaper (or more bandwidth for the same price) from other folks.

For this project I'm married to Cisco, but may not be in the future.
I've worked with Dell's PowerConnect line, but found that the feature set
was 90% of what Cisco had, but it ends up being really frustrating when you
need that last 10%. They also haven't seemed quite as mature as the Catalyst
I've liked the price of the Ubiquiti switches I've seen, but haven't gotten
to play with them, and based on their EdgeRouter line, am not sure about
their maturity either.


I’ve liked the price of the Ubiquiti switches I’ve seen, but haven’t gotten
to play with them, and based on their EdgeRouter line, am not sure about
their maturity either.

A switch’s maturity is much more dependent on hardware while a router is much more dependent on software, so I suggest assessing a switch on their own merits, regardless of bad experiences with that vendor in the router realm.


Cisco doesn’t want to sell 2960 series anymore and they made that perfectly clear to me over the past couple of years. I ended up switching to Juniper EX gear in places I had been deploying 2960’s previously. The EX3400 lineup is better priced than the newer Cisco stuff, and imho a better value overall in terms of what you get.

If you stick with Cisco, you’ll likely be going with the Cat9200 or Cat9300 series. They’re good switches, to be sure, but at the end of the day the Junipers are just as good and cheaper.

Good luck on your project!

Matt Harris​

Infrastructure Lead Engineer



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Cumulus (now NVIDIA) has just entered the access/edge market, so if you’re running a ‘development-enabled’ team, it’s a very attractive offering.

They bring a pretty solid software solution, that can run on their own CX-1048, or on a variety of manufacturers switches (including Dell).

self disclaimer; $dayjob affords Cisco 3650s/9300s, $sidejob(s) affords Dell+Cumulus.


For aggregation, we haven't bought Cisco switches for anything since
2014, when invested in a bunch of 3650's (they run IOS XE).

We use these purely as Layer 2 switches in low-density applications
where we need copper ports to connect to supporting services, e.g., DNS,

We used the EX4550 for years until their buffers became too small as
customer demand for bandwidth increased. We couldn't find anything in
the Cisco stable that made sense, and Juniper's EX4600 was very strange
when they switched to the ELS Junos code. So we went with Arista's 7208R
in the data centre to replace the EX4550's.

I have no experience with Arista's IP feature set on their switches, but
I hear it is maturing slowly.


+1 to the software & support

Within the last year we have learned & deployed Juniper & Extreme. They are easily as good or better than the rest of the crowd.

We use Ubiquiti stuff too. Its good on the edge, less so in the core. They don’t keep a product around long enough to work the bugs out.

Well, these days, with plenty of newer, affordable options coming in on Broadcom chips, it’s safe to say both hardware and software will require a lot of maturity to be viable against “the establishment”. Mark.