Enterprise networking comes with plenty of challenges. It's always nice when tools and resources can make things easier.
One great resource is a developed upgrade path. While a certain switch might work in the beginning, a growing business will need better equipment at some point. For enterprise work, you might begin with the Cisco Catalyst 3750G series. It offers affordable performance and is a great tool for many small and medium businesses.
As demand grows, you will find a natural upgrade path as follows: 3750G > 3750X > 3850 > 9300. You can take a deeper dive into this upgrade path and see the specific capabilities of each series in the list.
The starting point on this upgrade path is the 3750G series. There are multiple options within this series to serve a range of functions, but generally speaking, these switches are designed for small and medium business applications. They can support an office full of workers and comparable networks.
While the specifications range across the models within this series, a look at maximum performance metrics can highlight the switches' abilities.
As a standard, a 3750G switch will come with 24 or 48 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports. Some models support PoE with up to 24W of power per port. The switches also support up to 4 SFP uplinks. They also utilize a maximum of 128 MB of DRAM and 32 MB of flash memory.
You can stack 3750G switches using Cisco StackWise Technology, which means as many as 9 switches can connect in a single stack. Doing this provides up to 32 Gbps of stacking bus and up to nine 10 Gbps ports (per stack).
When the 3750G can't quite cut it anymore, the next series in this upgrade path is the 3750X. This represents a substantial upgrade in capabilities, as exemplified by some key performance metrics.
The 3750X series still features 24- and 48-port 10/100/1000 Ethernet switches, but just about every other metric is improved. For example, the max PoE power budget for these switches is 1100W. The switches also feature twice as many 10G ports.
Using StackWise Plus, you can still stack nine switches in a unit. This will provide up to 64 Gbps of throughput (double the capability of a maximized 3750G stack) and up to 18 10G ports per stack.
These large upgrades push the 3750X series well into the range of enterprise applications. They can form the backbone of large-scale networks, supporting longer ranges and considerably more users. With the increased PoE power budget, they can also run a wide variety of applications through a centralized enterprise network.
The 3750X series offers a lot more power, but it's far from the pinnacle of switching performance. The 3850 series provides another major jump in capabilities. While the 3750G series is great for small and medium networks, and the X series is good enough for enterprise applications, the 3850 series is streamlined for large-scale wireless networks.
These are still 24/48 port switches, but they are designed to support up to 40G of wireless capacity per switch. That comes with the ability to manage up to 100 access points and 2,000 wireless clients.
The switches still provide 10/100/1000 Ethernet, but with SFP, SFP+, and QSFP+, the switches can provide up to 4 separate 40G uplinks each.
The stacks are also improved with StackWise-480 technology. A 3850 stack can provide up to 480G of bandwidth.
These switches can certainly run major enterprise networks, and they are even capable of performing in data centers.
Yet, the 3850 series is still not the end of the upgrade path. Instead, the path culminates with the 9300 series. This is a switch designed for the most intense kinds of networking.
Modular uplinks support 100G, 40G, 25G, multigigabit, 10G, and 1G connections. Meanwhile, UPoE ports provide up to 90W of power per port, and you can get up to 288 of these PoE ports in a single stack.
In fact, 9300 switch stacks can provide up to 1TB of stacking bandwidth. That is elite even among top-grade industrial switches. With so much bandwidth, you can build a stack with up to 448 mGig ports. Additionally, the 9300 Ethernet switches can stack seamlessly with 9300X fiber switches, providing even more flexibility and power in a network.
The 9300 series represents the best that you can get, and as such, it's the end of this upgrade path.
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