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Switch Stacking Concept

Last Updated : 04 Apr, 2023
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Switch stacking is a method of binding multiple switches so that they can act as a single switch. This method is applicable on access layer switches. Now you wonder what are these access layer switches? thatActually, there are three types of switches in a LAN. These are Core, Distributed layer, and Access layer switch.

Switch Type Description
Access layer switches Switches that are connected to the end-user devices.
Distribution layer switch Switches which connect all access layer and core switches. They distribute network traffic from the core to access layer switches. They are generally more powerful than access layer switches.
Core switches These are the innermost switches in a LAN. All the LAN network traffic arrives at this switch through Edge router and then it transfers the traffic to distribution layer switches. 

Figure- Switches type in LAN

Imagine that you are network administrator and have to setup a LAN in a multistorey office building. There will be a large no of access layer switches and you have to configure almost similar configurations on switch each one by one. In real world, switches sits in a wiring closest. They are placed close to each other in wiring closest. One of the switches is responsible of all type of operations of the stack and is called the stack master. The stack master along with other switches in the stack are stack members. It show the whole switch stack as a one device to the network. Configuring all switches may be headache & time consuming. Hence, to deal with these situation a switch feature called switch stacking is used to combine switches placed in a wiring closest. This feature allows Network Engineer to make a stack of switches in a single wiring closest.

To make use of all benefits, switches have special hardware and interface available in them. A special type of network is used to connect the switches in a stack. Switches have a special dedicated port for stacking purpose and they are called stacking port. A stack of switches are connected to each other through stacking ports in a cyclic manner.

Figure – CISCO Catalyst 3750 Switch stack 

Benefits of using Switch Stacking : 

  1. All switch ports appear to be part of single switch.
  2. Single MAC-address Table to maintained by stack of switches.
  3. The stack have a single management IP address.
  4. All switches can be managed by single management IP.
  5. Various protocols like STP,OSPF run on single switch, not on all switches.
  6. Single VLAN management.
  7. The whole switch is managed as a 1 switch, including all the passwords, VLANs and interfaces.
  8. Whenever we want to add a new switch to the stack, the master switch automatically configures it.
  9. Cost and time efficient. 

Where we need to use Switch Stacking ? 
Let’s Consider small situation where a company have 32 ports switch. Now company wants 40 ports switch instead of 32 ports switch. The company can handle this situation in 2 ways: 

  1. Company can buy new 40 ports switch and reconfigure it from the initial phase (It take more cost to buy and take extra time to configure it.). 
  2. Company can add another 8 ports switch to the existing 32 ports switch using the concept of switch stacking. 

Company may prefer to go for 2nd option as it is cost efficient and requires low man power and time.

Lastly, let us discuss utilizations of switch stacking:

Utilizations of switch stacking:

1.High-speed server farm organizations: In server farms, switch stacking can be utilized to make rapid, low-dormancy networks that can deal with enormous volumes of information traffic. This is fundamental for supporting applications, for example, virtualization, distributed computing, and huge information examination, which require elite execution organizing.

2. Large venture organizations: In huge endeavor organizations, switch stacking can be utilized to work on networking the board and lessen the intricacy of the organization. This can make it more straightforward for network heads to convey and oversee enormous quantities of switches across numerous areas.

3. Campus organizations: In grounds organizations, switch stacking can be utilized to give a rapid network between numerous structures or offices. This can further develop network execution and lessen clog, which is significant for applications, for example, internet learning, video conferencing, and joint effort instruments.

4. Redundancy and high accessibility: Switch stacking can likewise be utilized to give overt repetitiveness and high accessibility in the organization. By making a pile of switches, network executives can guarantee that assuming one switch comes up short, the other changes in the stack can keep on working, which assists with limiting the organization’s personal time.

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