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Difference between Cisco 3850 and Cisco 9000 Series Switches

Cisco 3850 vs Cisco 9000 Series Switches

In enterprise networking, switch stacks cannot compromise. They take on such a workload that sacrificing ability on any level can prove detrimental to the whole network. It’s why switches designed for this kind of work are powerful and robust.

When you’re browsing such switches, you’ll see two specific series that come up a lot. These are the Cisco 3850 and 9000 series switches. They have a lot to offer, and understanding the key differences between them can help you optimize your network and networking budget.

Features of the 3850

The 3850 has been a staple in enterprise networking for a while, and that’s because of the raw power and capacity that it offers as a networking switch. It’s a workhorse that is designed for a wide range of uses.

The 3850 provides 10 Gb ports, allowing for high throughput in any number of applications. It also uses Cisco StackWise-480, making it easy to stack up to 9 of these switches. Doing so will push the maximum per-stack bandwidth up to 480 Gbps.

The 3850 has an integrated wireless controller and a wireless capacity of 40 Gb per switch. It supports up to 2,000 wireless clients and is built for robust use. Things like redundant power supplies and redundant connections enable it to provide very reliable networking stability.

3850 Series Primary Use Cases

With so much power and ability, it’s easy to see why the 3850 shows up in a lot of applications. The bulk of those applications exists in the enterprise space. The 3850 is great as a distribution switch on campuses. It can provide Layer-3 networking in smaller systems.

You’ll find 3850 switches implemented for remote monitoring, forming the backbone of healthcare networks and generally doing the heavy lifting for large, robust networks.

Highlights of the 9000 Series

The Cisco 9000 series (and especially the 9300) takes everything the 3850 offered and tries to improve on it. There are up to 24 multigigabit UPOE ports per switch. The top speeds per port still top out at 10 Gbps, and the stack size is the same as the 3850 (still using StackWise-480 and StackPower).

While there are similarities, the 9000 is built on the concept of software-defined access, and a few key hardware upgrades are worth noting.

For starters, the 9000 offers considerably more power through PoE (to the tune of an additional 560W). It has additional software control options and features, and it can handle considerably more traffic (specifically in wireless applications).

Where 9000 Series Thrives

With these upgrades, the 9000 series finds itself as a front-running switch in high-end applications. It’s a great switch for quarterbacking security systems. These systems can run across a campus, or they can be specified for a data center or other important location.

You will also see the 9000 in tons of IoT applications. With so much PoE power available, you can run a lot of endpoint devices off of a single stack.

The 9000 really thrives with mobility and cloud applications. The software-defined access philosophy allows 9000 series switches to integrate easily and quickly into cloud-based systems, instantly making things run more efficiently.

Another common use case is with audio-visual bridging. Strong bandwidth and PoE combine to make it easy to network as many devices as you might need.

Bottom Line on 3850 vs 9000 Series Switches

In reality, the 9000 series was designed as an upgrade to the 3850. You’ll find that they both do well in a number of similar applications and use cases. The 9000 series offers some major upgrades and advantages, but the bulk of those are in software and increased power.

With a 1100W power supply and UPoE, the 9300 can power more devices. That makes it invaluable in applications that take full advantage of this upgrade.

Ultimately, picking the right switch is about balancing capabilities against cost. The 3850 is a reliable, powerful switch that still does well in many places. The 9000 series is designed for easy migration from the 3850, meaning you can make improvements to your network in pieces if you need. But, if you need more power, more capacity, or any of the numerous software improvements in the 9000 series, you can have them all right now.

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