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Is the Force10 S60 the best "Top-of-rack" switch yet?

How does the new Force10 S60 stack up? 5 switches compared

Force10 Networks has just announced their latest offering in the crowded field of "datacenter top-of-rack" switches.  Cisco has multiple offerings including the new 4948E (not to be confused with the older 4948-E which is a very different switch), and Arista and Juniper, among others, offer competitive products.

How does the S60 stack up?  The S60 is flexible with two expansion bays, is stackable, has huge packet buffer memory compared to its peers making it a great choice for voice/video delivery applications, and easy to configure for the typical Cisco-trained engineer.  Cisco's older product the standard 4948 doesn’t stand up well, and the 4948-10GE is better but has limited DRAM and cannot stack or expand its port count.  The new 4948E switch is has the limitations of its stable mates (no expansion, not stackable) but has more DRAM and a better port count.  Juniper's entry has good stacking options but is limited to a maximum of 2 10GbE uplinks and you have to deal with the JUNOS command line - which is great for the experienced Juniper engineer but will likely make a junior Cisco engineer utter a panicked yelp.

See comparison chart below:

Part ID

F10 S60-01-GE-48T

Cisco 4948-10GE

Cisco 4948E-S

Arista 7048T-4S

Juniper EX4200-48T

List Price

$10,595

$12,500

$12,995

$11,995

$10,800

Switch Fabric Capacity

136Gbps   131Mpps

136Gbps   102Mpps

176Gbps   131Mpps

176Gbps   120Mpps

136Gbps   101Mpps

DRAM

2GB

256MB

1GB

2GB

1GB

Packet Buffer Memory

1.25GB

16MB

17.5MB

768MB

not given

Max VLANs

1024

4096

4096

4094

4096

MAC Addresses

32,000

55,000

55,000

16,000

24,000

Port Count

44x 10/100/1000      4x 10/100/1000 SFP

48x 10/100/1000  2x X2

48x 10/100/1000, 4x 1G/10G SFP+

48x 10/100/1000, 4x 1G/10G SFP+

48x 10/100/1000

Expansion Bays

2

none

none

none

1

Stackable

yes

no

no

no

yes

Features of note:

Force10 S60:  two expansion bays for either a 2 port 10G SFP+ module or a 2 port stacking module. 

Cisco 4948-10GE and 4948E: only 4948E supports IPv6, software to support BGP, OSPF, IS-IS, EIGRP is an additional fee.

Arista 7048: has optional software license to support Citrix server load balancing software.

Juniper EX4200: Stacking capability built in, single expansion bay supports 4 port SPF, 2 port XFP, or 2 port SFP+.

Most notably, to me, is the tight clustering of prices.  It is as if no one actually wants to win this race - or rather the competitors are comfortable ceding the majority of the market to Cisco and fight for the periphery.  The F10 S60 is a viable choice, and besides an incomprehensible decision to allow for a max of 1024 VLANS may be the best choice amongst all current entries.  Depending on the discount offered it may also be the cheapest.  But the little badge in the corner doesn't say "Cisco"...

References:

F10 S60                                                                                   

http://www.force10networks.com/products/s60.asp

Cisco 4948 Series                                                                                 

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/collateral/switches/ps5718/ps6021/ps10947/data_sheet_c78-598933.html                                                

Arista 7048                                                                               

http://www.aristanetworks.com/media/system/pdf/7048_Datasheet.pdf                                                                                                                                                                  

Juniper EX4200                                                                         

http://www.juniper.net/us/en/local/pdf/datasheets/1000215-en.pdf

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