Understanding HPE Switch Categories - CXtec

Posted by The Team at CXtec on Mar 21, 2022 1:54:16 AM

The HPE switch portfolio is vast, so understanding it can be a challenge. But upon closer inspection, we notice that generally...

The HPE switch portfolio is vast, so understanding it can be a challenge. But upon closer inspection, we notice that generally all the switches fall into three distinct types of categories: Data Center, Campus, and Small Business.

To make the offerings even more clear – HPE further splits those switches into four product lines:

  • Aruba
  • FlexFabric
  • FlexNetwork
  • OfficeConnect

Let's take a deeper dive into these models to learn a little more about them.

FlexFabric, FlexNetwork, and OfficeConnect Series

FlexFabric model numbers are in the higher 5000 range, ie. 5700, 5900. The FlexFabric lines offer no switches with less than Layer 3 lite functionality, which means, of course, that all are fully managed.

The FlexFabric switches are all fully managed and none ship with less than Layer 3 lite functionality. FlexNetwork models are in the lower 5000 range, ie. 5510, 5130. OfficeConnect model numbers are all in the 1000 range, ie. 1400, 1600, 1800, 1900.

OfficeConnect switches come in “Smart Managed” and unmanaged options. It goes without saying that you SHOULD NOT use an unmanaged switch anywhere in your network so it makes sense to skip those for our purposes now.

The “Smart Managed” switches come in Layer 3 lite and Layer 2 only. “Smart Managed” from HPE means that there is no command-line interface (CLI), so all programming is done via a web interface.

Aruba Series

Aruba series model numbers are a blend of everything else! For fixed port switches, the model part numbers fall into the 2000 and 3000 range, and for modular chassis they are 5400, 8400. All the used switches in the Aruba line are considered “fully managed” and offer a blend of Layer 2 only through Layer 3 advanced features.

  • Layer 3 Advanced: VLANs, link aggregation, STP/RSTP/MSTP, static routing, RIP, OSPFv2 for IPv4, OSPFv3 for IPv6, BGP, ACLs, IPv6
  • Layer 3 Basic: VLANs, link aggregation, STP/RSTP/MSTP, static routing, RIP, access OSPF (only 1 OSPF area and up to 8 interfaces), ACLs, IPv6
  • Lite Layer 3: VLANs, link aggregation, STP/RSTP/MSTP, static routing, ACLs, IPv6
  • Basic Layer 2: VLANs, link aggregation, STP/RSTP, 1G Fiber uplinks

How does HPE/Aruba switching stack up against Cisco switches?

We all know Cisco is the predominant OEM in the switching space. So how do these offerings stack up when comparing HP/Aruba with Cisco switching?

At this point, there doesn’t seem to be a Cisco switch offered in which there isn’t a comparable HPE alternative. Cisco, of course, is still king when it comes to routing and supplying top-of-the-line routers is their bread and butter.

However, most enterprises now are routing more and more at their access layer 3 switches. Anyone who manages a network knows that static routing is simple, but when things need to be changed it can get complicated quickly.

Even RIP routing doesn’t necessarily account for easy network design changes – that is where Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) comes in. If you are choosing an HPE switch and plan to route at the edge it is important to dig into the exact layer 3 features each switch includes.

A layer 3 basic switch – anything in the 2930 line for example – can offer you the ability to run OSPF but still has the limitation of the number of areas and interfaces supported (8). The layer 3 advanced switches – 3810M, 5510, 5900 – offer you full OSPF.

Are you curious how to configure inter-VLAN routing on an HPE switch? How different are the commands from Cisco? Let us know and we can help think through your technology investments!