Not all Switch Stacking is Created Equal

With bring your own device (BYOD) strategies maturing, organizations worldwide are frantically looking to adopt BYOD programs, not only to improve employee satisfaction but also to improve user productivity. According to a recent Gartner research half of the enterprise world says they intend to move to BYOD for smartphones alone by 2017, let alone other devices such as tablets, standard mobile phones and PCs. Accompanying such an enormous growth in the mobile user space is enterprise infrastructure expansion which now has become a necessity rather than a luxury.

Infrastructure expansion could come about in multiple ways. The organization can buy a completely new set of switches but that is potentially expensive. Better yet how about grouping together existing switches which can then be reused and managed as a single node. In this case, not only are the existing ports reused but also buying any new gear is minimal. Also how do we manage such a vast infrastructure efficiently? In the data center world, fabrics or a cloud infrastructure could probably be the solution to the BYOD explosion issues faced by the Enterprise IT world today. Wouldn’t it be great if we could form these same powerful fabric-like management domains in the Enterprise LAN world today?

Imagine a scenario where a student brings his smartphone and requests access to his account or service within his school district, which is handled by one of the wireless APs successfully. Now multiply this request by tens and hundreds of school students requesting access to their own individual portals. With limited infrastructure in place, the few wireless APs present maybe so designed to distribute student usage based on their geographical locations and also based on efficient allocation of bandwidth. These wireless APs are probably connected to upstream switches through either 1G or 10G links, which have probably reached their full bandwidth usage in this case resulting in loss in upstream traffic. With an increase in number of such mobile students, the traffic loss in upstream links is not only going to augment the issue, but the upstream switches themselves might become failure points in the network. Ultimately, such an explosion in the mobile user space could be catastrophic and bring down the entire school LAN network.

What if, there is a way to stack switches together such that, not only would this augment port density but also the managing the entire stack is as simple as managing a single switch? Additionally, what if different types of switches could be stacked together such that the IT admins could use a wide variety of network features and services for managing user traffic? Further, switch stacking across extended distances in different geographical areas, help enterprise IT engineer their ports where they are needed across the campus. And finally, what if switch stacking could support failover scenarios and other stacking features, which when combined together, address delivery complexity, higher costs and security issues associated with explosion in BYOD user space.

Brocade’s answer to the BYOD issues plagued by most of the Enterprise LAN organizations is Brocade’s Stacking technology, which as most competitors allows IT admins to stack up to 8 homogenous switches within a stack.



FIGURE 1: 8 member, ICX 6450 homogenous stack.


Unique Stacking Attributes Enabled through switch stacking includes:

  • Mixing and matching different Enterprise switches at Brocade allows the ICX 6610’s, to share advanced network services with the ICX 6450’s while offering the customers 30-50% lower TCO.



FIGURE 2: HyperEdge Distributed Services with mixed stacks of ICX 6610’s (top two switches) and ICX 6450’s (rest of the switches).


  • Extended stacking distances – Brocade’s switches can reach up to 300m on 10GE stacks facilitating stacking of switches in different geographical areas.
  • Zero downtime – Brocade’s hitless stacking technology allows IT users to manage and grow their networks without any downtime.

Learn more about Brocade+Ruckus’ switch stacking by downloading our free white paper “Transform the Network with Brocade Campus Fabric“.


WAV, Inc. is a full service distributor of LTE, wireless broadband, networking, and Wi-Fi equipment. Located in Aurora, IL, WAV provides its partners a competitive edge by offering extensive product knowledge & unmatched technical expertise, support for multi-vendor solutions, product availability, as well as professional value-added services for its VAR & WISP communities, including (but not limited to): technical support, predictive analysis services, FCC coordination and installation & diagnostics. “We Make the Internet Work”. For more information, call (800) 678-2419 or visit the web at: