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Cisco vs Nortel Core Switch

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  • Cisco vs Nortel Core Switch

    Hello, first time/long time. Decided to register to get some feedback from you guys on a hot topic going on in my office right now:

    We're in the market for a new core switch. We've been hobbling along with an ancient one for about 7 years now.

    We have 300 users in our office and we're a Nortel shop as far as network switching. We use Baystack 450s exclusively here, approximately 40 of them, in our building alone, but use Cisco for our WAN routers.

    We're looking primarily at the Passport 8610 (Nortel) and the Cisco Catalyst 6500 (among others).

    We have 4 IDFs that have 2GB uplink speeds and 5 that use 1GB uplinks via fiber.

    We also have 13 servers with gigabit NICS.

    We have always used Nortel equipment (we also have an Option 61 PBX) but we've been told to get what we need, not necessarily to get what we always get.

    I know full well that Cisco is the gold standard, but I can't go to the CIO and say "we should spend over $100K on the Cisco because it's the standard."

    We have a dedicated Telecommunications Mgr, who's pushing the Nortel, I have other constituants who're ready to start the move to Cisco and I don't really care either way, I just want my new core switch.

    Does anyone have any comments regarding either unit or brand name? TIA!

  • #2
    Re: Cisco vs Nortel Core Switch

    Hi Taylormade,

    This is a good question.

    Before I throw in my two cents I want to say that I have never compared Nortel vs Cisco and I tend to be a "Cisco bigot" (so you might already have guessed what I am going to say).

    Many years ago, we compared 3Com to Cisco gear and went with 3Com, mainly due to cost. Years later, we tested a replacement to the 3Com gear and found all the things we were missing. We all wondered why we didn't work harder to find a way to justify the Cisco gear from the beginning. We recalled all the frustration we had had with the 3Com gear and how much trouble we could have saved ourselves. Today, based on my past experiences with 3Com, Cisco, and other vendors, I would fight to do whatever I could do to get Cisco gear in. I am not saying that it is the best when it comes to every application (for example, I don't think that Cisco makes the best IDS, firewall, or SAN switch on the market today) but when it comes to routers and switches - it is the clear leader and there is a lot of engineering and reliability reasons for that. They didn't get to be the market leader just because there are a bunch of "Cisco bigots" (like me) out there

    That's just my two cents and its purely based on my past experience. I am sure others have had difference experiences. If it were me and cost was the barrier, I would search for less expensive ways to get the Cisco in - lease it, buy it refurbished, or something.

    I throw in this opinion in hopes that others contribute their thoughts. Anyone else??

    David Davis - Petri Forums Moderator & Video Training Author
    Train Signal - The Global Leader in IT Video Training - Free IT Training Products
    Personal Websites: &


    • #3
      Re: Cisco vs Nortel Core Switch

      If you're a Nortel shop with no plans to migrate to another vendor than the Nortel is the option of choice here. You will save money in the long run having your team being trainend on it already, having a vendor who can give you pricing based on your Nortel spend with them, etc. You also already have a vendor relationship which is part of this equation.
      Brian Desmond
      Microsoft MVP - Directory Services


      • #4
        Re: Cisco vs Nortel Core Switch

        My personal pereference is Cisco over Nortel. I work in an enviroment, where we have used both flavors of switches. I would be a complete Cisco shop, but my co-administrator is a fan of Nortel in certain situations.

        I personally find the Nortel command line-GUI somewhat confusing at times.

        However I do believe that networks with mixed flavors do not work well. We have had problems with VLANs flowing from the Cisco core switch to Nortel switches. It took us sometime to figure out how to get the flow to function properly.

        If you like Nortel, go for it. It's a good product, but at the same time it's not Cisco.
        MCITP:SA, MCSA 2003, MCP, CCNA, A+, Net+, Security+


        • #5
          Re: Cisco vs Nortel Core Switch

          Thanks very much for the replies. As an update, we've decided to go with the Nortel Passport. I appreciate the input you guys provided.