I recently went through the process of replacing a number of branch office switches with Brocades. I had never worked with them before, my experience thus far has primarily been with Ciscos, however I found them to be very similar (as was likely the intention) with only a few differences, such as how VLANs are configured. For the most part they’ve been solid, and are a cheaper alternative to the Cisco devices, however I did run into a couple issues with them.
The plan was to install 2 units in each branch configured as a stack. Pretty much all the branches were identical in their configuration, so once one was figured out the rest could pretty much be copied and pasted. Everything was going well until I started to see the following errors repeatedly on one unit:
PoE Internal Error: Unknown hw status 0x37 on port 1/1/17. PoE Internal Error: Unknown hw status 0x37 on port 1/1/18.
Here’s a screenshot:
I didn’t actually test this out to see if there was issues with those ports, but since it wasn’t generating these errors on any other device, and especially since they’re all brand new devices, I decided it was prudent to just give Brocade a call. The solution was simple, RMA the device. They mentioned trying out different firmware (8.0.30j) as I was currently running 8.0.40a, but since every other switch was on the same version, I wouldn’t expect that to make much of a difference.
Once the new device came in I made use of the hot swap abilities of the stack to get it in place, which was actually pretty slick. For a quick rundown, you simply had to make sure the replacement switch was the same firmware version as the current stack members, and that it had no config on it, and then you can just connect it up. As long as the connection to the other stack members are plugged in to the same ports, it will grab the config and be good to go (after a few reboots). Once this one done everything was great, or so I thought..
For some reason swapping out the switch caused all of our PoE phones (specifically model 7940G, 7960G, and 7912G Ciscos), to stop working. The ports just shut down. I’m not sure if this was caused by hot swapping the switch, simply rebooting, or if there was something else going on, but running show inline power displayed the error PD Detection Fault on those ports. Here’s a screenshot of that:
The weird thing was that this was the second device, which hadn’t been touched. This led to another support case being opened with Brocade, and their recommendation was once again to go to firmware 8.0.30j, and to change the PoE firmware (I had been unaware that it was separate). I had figured that 8.0.40a was the best firmware to go with since it was new and solid, but this issue led me to dig a bit deeper; apparently Brocade has had issues with their firmware stability in the past, and I might experienced this firsthand. The 8.0.40a firmware was a newer release in terms of features, but the 8.0.30j more recently released, and hopefully was more mature, with more bug fixes. It was also news to me that there was different PoE firmware versions, and the one that these switches came with wasn’t the best. I was currently running 01.6.1 Build 073, and went with version 01.6.7 Build 013, which was included with 8.0.30j.
I tested out the new firmware, and after a number of reboots and tests with the phones, everything was up working as it should. The switches in branches have now been in place for a little while, and so far so good.