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SunTel Blog

Juniper EX switches - definitely worth a closer look

Posted by: John R. on 4/28/2010

At our weekly sales meeting at SunTel, we got a chance to take a deeper dive into Juniper’s EX Ethernet switches.  Impressive stuff!  Here are four reasons why:



Juniper EX 4200 series switches employ a “Virtual Chassis” architecture that provides very high performance via a 128Gbps stacking backplane without being hemmed in by a physical chassis.

Up to ten switches can be stacked together in one Virtual Chassis.  The copper ports on all switches support up 10/100/1000 and the up to four 1Gbps SFP uplinks or up to two 10Gbps uplinks can be supported on each switch.  A single stack can support 480 10/100/1000 ports and uplinks of either 40 1Gbps SFPs or 20 10Gbps uplinks.

Every EX 4200 switch has at least eight ports of Power over Ethernet (PoE).  This is nice when you have a handful of phones or some access points or IP cameras that are powered over the Ethernet.



There are several levels of redundancy in the Juniper EX 4200 architecture.  For example, with a Virtual Chassis of two or more switches, one switch will perform the Master routing engine with a second functioning as a Backup routing engine.  If the EX 4200 switch that hosts the Master Routing Engine were to fail, the Backup Routing Engine on the other switch takes over and becomes the Master Routing Engine.  If there are more active switches in the Virtual Chassis one of them will now take over the role of the Backup Routing engine.  This process is called Graceful Rout Engine Switchover (GRES).

Other high availability features include the ability to aggregate links between multiple switches in the Virtual Chassis since the entire Virtual Chassis acts as one logical switch.  Should one switch fail that has a port participating in an aggregated link, the other aggregated links connected the other physical switches continue to operate.  This is different from an active/standby configuration since both aggregated links are active and carrying traffic during normal operation.

Even the high-speed stacking links are redundant so that if one cable were to fail or become disconnected, the Virtual Chassis maintains communication with all of the switches in its membership.

Finally, each EX 4200 switch can have up to two hot-swappable power supplies.  The fan module on each switch is also hot-swappable.  So these are pretty robust units on which to build the foundation of your data network.



Each EX 4200 Virtual Chassis is managed by a single IP address.  In addition, a Virtual Chassis can be extended remotely to other closets – again, with up to ten switches total participating in a single Virtual Chassis.  So, if you have a smaller network of ten switches or less, you can manage the entire network – regardless of its location using one single IP address – pretty cool!  For larger networks, each closet could be configured with its own Virtual Chassis and corresponding IP address per Virtual Chassis  so that you can limit the number of devices to manage and configure (from a logical standpoint).



Since each Virtual Chassis supports up to ten switches, you no longer have to guess the correct size chassis that you may need in the future.  This enables you to pay-as-you-grow – adding switches as the need arises.  Also, with the ability to extend the Virtual Chassis chassis outside of your data center or MDF.

If you think that you might migrate to 10Gbps uplinks/downlinks in the future but are not ready to go there today, you can start out with 1Gbps and migrate there later by field upgrading the EX 4200 switches to 10Gbps.  This is a unique feature because you don’t have to migrate until you are ready to do so.

EX 4200 switches can also be used in an innovative top-of-rack configuration to provide connectivity and data aggregation of rack-mounted servers.

Of course, I’m only talking about the technical advantages and haven’t even gotten into the business value of using Juniper. 

But that is a discussion for a different blog post.

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