Axia-Approved Ethernet Switches FAQ

"Why can't I just use my favorite switch with Axia?"


People ask us this question every so often. We have standardized on Cisco because their reliability, feature sets and performance are the best we've found. They also offer a wide range of switches at all price points to meet individual users' needs. How come other manufacturers' switches don't measure up? This is mostly due to individual manufacturers' differing implementation of the same "standards". For file transfers and e-mail, these differences are immaterial. But for VoIP and, most especially, IP-Audio, these implementations become more important. It's quite possible for a given switch to "work" with just a few nodes attached, but when a more robust test of Axia's capabilities is applied, that same switch can fail. For example, we found a nice, inexpensive switch from a well-known manufacturer which, on paper, met all specs and worked with small systems in the lab. However, it turned out to not actually meet its own published specs when deployed for rigorous service in a large Livewire+ system. For this reason, we recommend and qualify only selected Cisco switches for Axia clients.

"Why does Axia recommend EMI switch software versus SMI?"


Many Cisco switches are available with either the standard multilayer software image (SMI) or the enhanced multilayer software image (EMI). The SMI feature set includes advanced QoS, rate-limiting, ACLs, and basic routing functionality. The EMI provides a richer set of enterprise-class features, including advanced hardware-based IP unicast and IP Multicast routing as well as policy-based routing (PBR). While SMI-equipped switches perform well in systems of limited scale, EMI software is needed in a core switch to make sure this switch provides multicast router function for the Axia LAN. Without mutlicast routing, SMI switches cannot negotiate core/edge relationships properly. This is needed to make sure the selected core switch will be the root of the IGMP multicast distribution tree and IGMP querier.

"Can I use Cisco switches with 'LAN Lite' software loads?"


Sorry, no. 'LAN Lite' software does not support many of the commands essential to the operation of Axia networks. Only switches with full 'LAN Base' software will power your Axia network correctly.


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