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Why a 2 stage process to physical stacking?

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Why a 2 stage process to physical stacking?

Hello community, I am planning a deployment of stacked switches. According to documentation the tasks include.

 

  1. Add switches to dashboard. Do not configure the stack in Dashboard yet.
  2. Connect each switch with individual uplinks to bring them both online and ensure they can check in with the Meraki Dashboard.
  3. Download the latest firmware build using the Firmware etc
  4. With all switches powered off and links disconnected, connect the switches together via stacking cables.
  5. Connect one uplink for the entire switch stack. 
  6. Power on all the switches, then wait several minutes for them to download the latest firmware and updates from Dashboard. The switches may reboot during this process.
  7. Navigate to Switch > Monitor > Switch stacks.
  8. Configure the switch stack in Dashboard.

 

The documented process means that I cannot pre-provision them in the dashboard.

 

When deploying a Meraki solution, I have always pre-provisioned everything, and the installers only need to plug everything in as directed by my instructions. Usually completed whilst I am asleep.

 

So, to my question.

 

Has anyone out there just pre-provisioned stacks in the dashboard (without steps  1-5) then connected them to the network. If so, what goes wrong that means that I need to do it according to the documentation.

 

Thanks Andy

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Accepted Solutions
cmr
A model citizen

Re: Why a 2 stage process to physical stacking?

We have done several physical stacks and as @PhilipDAth said, as long as you power them up first on their own before physically stacking them, you will be okay.  We have followed the following process:

 

  1. Create the stack in the dashboard by adding the serial numbers
  2. Plug in switches on their own with internet access and leave for a few hours
  3. Power off switches
  4. Install one of the switches in destination and power up, connect devices if needed, to free up space in panel if replacing other switches etc.
  5. Install second switch in destination and connect stacking cable(s), then power up
  6. Add third etc. if required.

As long as you aren't using layer 3 features (we aren't), then it all works fine and there are no connectivity issues for clients, switch reboots etc.  We did this with 10.x firmware but haven't added any more yet since moving to 11.x

10 REPLIES 10
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Kind of a big deal

Re: Why a 2 stage process to physical stacking?

The important but is you need to get them all online first and let the software upgrade.

 

In the earlier firmware images like 9.x the switches could crash or lockup.  Not sure how the modern firmware versions go - but you can't tell what firmware version they ship with.

 

We tend to do bring our switches online and upgrade the firmware at least a day before we install them on site. 

That first upgrade can take a long time.  40 minutes sometimes.

 

Also don't watch them.  Just walk away and do something else.  Otherwise you'll start thinking something is wrong and power cycle then which starts the whole process again. 

Here to help

Re: Why a 2 stage process to physical stacking?

I had a sneaking suspicion that might be the experience of the community. I hope someone else has a different answer which makes my life easier. But I bet everyone says the same thing. Thanks @PhilipDAth  for the detail about 40 minutes, as I think by then I would have assumed things were not going well.

Kind of a big deal

Re: Why a 2 stage process to physical stacking?

It is not just Meraki - it is all network equipment - start upgrading and go and have a coffee out of the building. Or an ice-cream.

Robin St.Clair | Principal, Caithness Analytics | @uberseehandel
Head in the Cloud

Re: Why a 2 stage process to physical stacking?

@AndyM Upgrade does sometimes take longer than you'd like. My team's practice is to setup devices for their initial load and then ignore them for 1-2 hours. If the lights or dashboard status are unhappy after then, then we've got a problem. But it's switches. I haven't met a good switch yet that doesn't sometimes take an age or three to update from the shipped firmware to modern firmware.

 

For stacks, we usually follow that process you described... in our office. Once it's ready to go and we've labeled each switch with its intended stacking order, then it can be sent off to the installer. We don't drop ship them to site and cross our fingers.

Here to help

Re: Why a 2 stage process to physical stacking?

@Uberseehandel , It was more why boot it unstacked first, then let it upgrade the firmware, and then stack them together. I'd rather stack it, and boot it, and then let it upgrade itself whilst it is in a stack. But Meraki are quite clear in that they highlight boot it unstacked and don't configure in the dashboard. Then once upgraded stack it and configure it.

 

I suppose if you stacked two devices with incompatible FW, then they may not stack, and one or more may not upgrade.

 

@Nash I've rolled out 500+ Meraki devices pre-configring the lot in the dashboard, and got the installer to plug them in as documented, and only had issues when the wrong ports were selected. I found it more efficient. Those however were not stacked, so I have been backed into a corner.

Head in the Cloud

Re: Why a 2 stage process to physical stacking?

@AndyM I understand. I'm specifically talking about physical stacks here. It's not my favorite either.

cmr
A model citizen

Re: Why a 2 stage process to physical stacking?

We have done several physical stacks and as @PhilipDAth said, as long as you power them up first on their own before physically stacking them, you will be okay.  We have followed the following process:

 

  1. Create the stack in the dashboard by adding the serial numbers
  2. Plug in switches on their own with internet access and leave for a few hours
  3. Power off switches
  4. Install one of the switches in destination and power up, connect devices if needed, to free up space in panel if replacing other switches etc.
  5. Install second switch in destination and connect stacking cable(s), then power up
  6. Add third etc. if required.

As long as you aren't using layer 3 features (we aren't), then it all works fine and there are no connectivity issues for clients, switch reboots etc.  We did this with 10.x firmware but haven't added any more yet since moving to 11.x

Here to help

Re: Why a 2 stage process to physical stacking?

@cmr That sounds a bit more hopeful, at least I could pre-configure them.

cmr
A model citizen

Re: Why a 2 stage process to physical stacking?

@AndyM did you have any luck with the process we followed?

Here to help

Re: Why a 2 stage process to physical stacking?

@cmr I'm at the low level design/ building instructions phase of the design. So it will be while before I get my hands on the hardware.

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