By Errol McCall, Product Engineer
In general, there are three types of switching solutions: standalone, stacked, and chassis. As the middle child, I’m biased towards a stacked switching solution – my reasons may be skewed, but it really is the best of both worlds.
One of the major benefits to all stacking is simplified management. Before stacking came along, you had to daisy chain multiple switches together and configure them separately by logging in with a different IP address one by one.
As you may know or can imagine, this was a super tedious process. When stacking switches, they all share the same IP address and can be configured as one unit. Instead of looking like multiple separate switches, the solution actually looks like one switch with a larger amount of ports.
Even within the stacking world there is stacking and then there is true stacking. True stacking has the added benefit of redundancy. With true stacking you can have multiple links of a trunk go to multiple switches in a stack, as opposed to just one.
If a switch in the stack dies, the trunk link remains active because they are no longer connected to the same switch. Depending on your needs be sure to find out if the switch you are choosing has basic stacking or true stacking
There are a few other things to keep in mind when looking for a stacking switch as all manufacturers are different.
It's a safe bet that once you start getting over 300+ ports that it may actually be more cost effective to go with a chassis so be sure to weigh your options. Anything less than that and stacking switches is a very popular choice and more than capable of giving you a chassis like experience without the bulk.