Network Vendor suggestions/reviews, Arista Networks, Dell Force10, Juniper, Extreme Networks etc...

                I have been working on a proposal for the organization I work for to move into the 10gbit datacenter. We have a small datacenter currently of about 1000 ports of 1gbit. We have traditionally been a full Cisco shop, however I was asked to do a price comparison as well as features with other major alternative vendors. I was also asked to do some digging as far as what "the real world" thinks about these possible vendors.

We currently have 2 Cisco 6509's with 8 48 port cards Sup 3BXL, 2 Cisco 4506 with 5x 48 port card and Sup V's and 2 4900M switches providing 10gbit to a very specialized implementation. With all of our technology, we try to not be bleeding edge, but oozing edge. We need 5 9's or more of uptime yearly so stability is preferable to cool features. We currently have single supervisors in all of our switches (not my decision) and it has bit us recently. Everything we are looking at needs to support NSF/SSO/VSS of some kind.

What we have been looking to replace it with in Cisco world is Nexus 7004 Core and Nexus 5596UP with 2200 series Fabric extenders for Dist/Access as well as 2200 Fabric Extenders within our Dell Blade Chassis. Realistically we will be under 800 ports of 10gbit (excluding Blades) which puts us in a tough spot from what I can find. Currently everything we have is EOR, however TOR would make more sense allowing us to switch to SFP+ twinax connectivity to servers.

With this in mind, I have a few questions...

It was mandated that I look at a company "Arista Networks" and investigate possible options. I had not heard much about them, so I look to the experts. Pro's and Con's? Real world experience? Looks to me they have a lot of cool features, but I'm slightly concerned with how new they might be, how reliable it would be as well as their QA/bugfix history. Also 24x4 support and hardware replacement. Everything in our datacenter currently has a 2 or 4 hour cisco contract on it and critical core components have a cold spare in inventory.

Dell Force 10... I know Dell tries to get you to drink the Koolaid on this solution, I was a former Dell Partner and they even pushed me to get demo equipment going... What's the experience with their chassis switches? Stability? Configuration sanity? What do people like? What do people hate?

Juniper. What do people like? What do people hate? Have the Layer 2 issues of historical age gone away? Is the config still xml ish? It has been about 5 years since I worked with anything Juniper.

Extreme networks. I know very little about them historically. What is good, what is bad? Is the config sane?

I would be happy to compile any information I find, as well as our sanitized internal conclusions. On and off list responses welcome.

If there is another vendor anyone would suggest, please add them to the list with similarly asked questions.



I love JUNOS, don't really care for IOS. I really trust Cisco and Juniper's
hardware, with that being said Arista is your best bet for cheapest port.
I've only seen Arista in lab, not in the wild yet so I can't speak for how
I would trust them. You mention getting bit by single sups, I believe as of
late Arista has had issue with OSPF failover time between dual-sups in HA

I used to have a Dell laptop....but I'm sure their great too. In the end
for me I only trust Cisco or Juniper. I've been burnt by Foundry and am
waiting to on Arista.

Go juniper!!!
Full junos equipment on the network means same OS for switches, routers,
and firewalls.
You have high end equipment to support a core tier1 backbone, and also a
simpliest 24 port sw soho range. All with the same config languaje.
You can use the management software called junos space to make complex
deploys like a brezee. Space have multiple modules that you can use to
manage, configure and monitor all the junos equipment family. You can setup
the delivery and assurance process with this software.
Also you can automatize some things with scripts and junos space have an
api to interact with other software.
SDN also is part of all this things.
Take a good and deep look over the juniper ecosystem, is really great. And
became from the shitty ios and horrible management products from cisco, you
can see a big change and big plus on this with juniper.


Let me also clarify, Price per port is not the final deciding factor. We are looking much more at a combination of daily operational sanity, troubleshooting features, operational feature set, vendor support quality and price.

Support is absolute key. When we need help, we need help quickly and knowledgeable support. The name checkpoint comes to mind when I think of something I DON’T want for support quality. It also causes nausea…



DELL Force10 switches (not DELL Power Connect) run so far so good in
our environment. the combination of S4810 and Z9000 make good sense on
both operation and capex point of view.

There were three headaches for us in the beginning of adaption.
Force10 calculates frame size with CRC32, say if your IP MTU is 9000
on VMware then the trunk port on Force10 should be 9022. Although it
clearly documented in manual but still troublesome for people who
lives in Cisco world for all his past life and want to use non-default
MTU (1500) on Force10 switch.

Another headache was Force10 needs to manually config MTU (if not use
default MTU) on every interface even if the interface is member of
port-channel and you do already config MTU on PO interface

The last one was the way how it creates VLANs. Not like Cisco, Force10
cannot creates say hundreds of VLANs in one single line, but need to
create VLAN interface one by one, even if they are purely layer-2
VLAN, not RVI.

However, those 3 things can be managed by script or by using the free
deployment tool, AFM, from DELL. Beside those 3, so far the switches
run rock solid.

One very good benefit is Force10 does not (almost) have virtual port
limitation like Cisco does. (Force10 has completely no limit when use
RSTP. and 250 x ports when use PVST. You can google "Cisco virtual
port limit".) This freedom is extremely important when operate large
flat layer-2 network for VM.

I would say Force10 support is very good, especially in bay area that
their HQ is locally here. Most of our questions can be addressed
within only few days even in one day. That probably because our
environment is too simple? Layer-2 TOR S4810, Layer-3 Core Z9000, runs
OSPF and VLT (multiple chassis LAG, this is something like Cisco

I've had nothing but good luck with Juniper support and well with Cisco you
pay for support too. I will say Arista support was great, however, I'm
still hesitant to put them in full production; but I think that is lack of
experience with them speaking.

Do the bake off in your lab and let'm run!

I'm exact opposite of Phil. I love IOS and hate JunOS....for that
single reason, I'm really against buying Juniper in our shop for
pretty much anything. :slight_smile:

Still, to be fair, the hardware seems to be really, really stable and
well built. I don't think we've had a failure across our Junipers in
the short time I've been with my day job.

As far as support goes...the only time we had issues with our Nexus
gear I was actually really, really disappointed with Cisco. We were
upgrading our firmware, ran into some major issues with VPC and HSRP
due some firmware changes, and the Tac engineer we got sucked
*massive* lemons. When I call Tac with a situation like this, I
expect someone who can code a working config from scratch based on the
old config, not someone who's going to sit there scratching his head,
running useless packet captures, and being silent when we ask
questions. *sigh*

/rant off

Mike brings up a good point though; the effort, cost, and risk of
introducing a new CLI to an environment sometimes is masked until you
really need to dig in and work through outages. Familiarity with a codebase
or at least with how the code "thinks" should go a long way when deciding
what to put in your racks. Of course, how do you quantify that?

Coming from first hand experience, all network equipment vendors have
strengths and weaknesses.
Personally, I prefer the Junos CLI and ecosystem, but it is a learning
curve, especially with a larger team who may not be familiar with it.
But I found once I grasped the "Junos way", I'm significantly more
productive with less errors, and "commit confirmed" is much better than
Cisco comparable rollback methods.
Juniper also offers several methods for automation: Junoscript/SLAX,
Netconf, and now Puppet integration.

I also have experience with Force10, and minor experience with Arista, both
good vendors. They will be immieditely familiar to your team, since they
use the same commands mostly.
I find Juniper's virtual chassis to be among the better stacking
technologies, but everyone has their own take. Force10 and Arista do really
good multi-chassis LAG, as well as the Juniper QFX lineup.

These days, vendors are really competitive on pricing and offerings, so you
really can't go wrong :slight_smile:

Hi Blake,

Purple is the new Green.

I would have a vote for Extreme Networks if you look for a high density, low latency, non blocking setup.
Their BD X8 could do 768 10G's per chassis (2304 ports per rack). Later this year the BD X8 will also do the new gen 100G.
Their switches are one of the fastest switches you can find for a datacenter setup, along with their TOR switch, the 48 port 10G 1U switch, the X670/X670V.

From a pricepoint in purchase but also in power consumption and management cost, Extreme Networks will be a clear winner.

If you are looking for options like certain sw features, Extreme works like a charm in a MPLS/ VPLS setup, MLAGG, OSPF and v6. They also put a lot of effort in SW API's like perl /XML interfaces for automation, which makes it great to script against.

Their CLI has a bit different structure vs Cisco IOS or the Juniper cli, but very easy to pickup.

We do a lot with Extreme in our own ISP network, I would recommend them in any Cisco 6509 replacement project.

Erik Bais

I have worked with both Extreme, Juniper, Cisco and Brocade and Avaya.

Great boxes stable and afforadable when it comes to 10GE and 40GE. Truly
one XOS for all boxes, lowend x440 has the same XOS as 48*10GE
device.Support sucks very bad though if you can't get your SE to support

Great boxes, very nice CLI, good support with a nice ticketsystem and good
kb. However I have found alot of bugs that needs to be corrected in the
switch series that are somewhat annoying.

Good boxes, expensive great support and a amazing KB.

Good boxed, a tad expensive. Open to opensoucre when it comes to SDN

Great boxes, SPB all the way =), not a solid true OS yet but some
different ones on different boxes, but to my mind the SPB solution gives
you the most flexability in a datacenter today and you can even in the
long run mix vendors if you like since it's open and standarized.

Short rant =) Hope you find the vendor you like the best and by all means
take in a couple of them for test.

Med vänlig hälsning
Andreas Larsen

IP-Only Telecommunication AB| Postadress: 753 81 UPPSALA | Besöksadress:
S:t Persgatan 6, Uppsala |
Telefon: +46 (0)18 843 10 00 | Direkt: +46 (0)18 843 10 56

Arista is rock solid they have both an IOS like cli and a standard
unix shell you can even run tcpdump on their switches.

Arista claim to fame came about 3-4 years back when they had at the
time one of the fastest non-blocking cut though 10Gbe switches using
the fulcrum asic geared for low latency environments the financial
sector ate it up and loved it. Facebook is also a huge Arista shop.

Arista is rock solid they have both an IOS like cli and a standard
unix shell you can even run tcpdump on their switches.

Arista claim to fame came about 3-4 years back when they had at the
time one of the fastest non-blocking cut though 10Gbe switches using
the fulcrum asic geared for low latency environments the financial
sector ate it up and loved it. Facebook is also a huge Arista shop.

Most of the trading framework is as well - it runs on 7124's in many cases and especially the new 7124FX units which are FPGA based and wickedly fast.

The other thing you can get from Juniper is time services. Their TCA gear is the rebranded Juniper-Expanded Brilliant-Telecom technology.