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I'm sorry if it's a silly question but in networking things I'm a complete newbie.

We have some switches (DELL) two of them are connected with SFP (fiber) along a long hall, the rest are stacked via the old stacking cable behind the switches.

Something like this:

Sketch of the network Would be possible to buy Cisco Catalyst switches (or other brands) and stack/uplink them to the existing DELLs via SFP?, the idea would be to replace the old Dell ones (with the old stacking cable), but depending on the compatibility of the SFP to link the two switches via Fiber.

A SFP works only with optic fiber?

Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

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Yes you can uplink different brand of switches using SFP.

The term stacking in this context means that several switches act as a single one. This is always a proprietary (and model dependent) feature, and can be done only with switches of the same brand (and not all of them).

SFP doesn't work only with fiber:

  • there SFP to copper converters, so you can use UTP cable between 2 SFP ports, or a standard NIC to a SFP port. I'm not sure that this is supported on all switches, and when using SFP+ (10Gbs) ports this will downgrade to gigabit (1Gbs) as far as I know.

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  • there's "direct attach cable". Those are (generally coper) cables that have sfp(+) connectors on both end. They can be used on short distance (in the same room) and they exists for 10G speed. I'm not sure if they can be used between switches of different brands.

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  • this is the right answer – Ron Royston Jun 3 '16 at 17:53
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Yeah, the SFP on most enterprise switches is MOST COMMONLY used for a high-speed fibre uplink. They're there for that purpose. Obviously, you need the module to make it happen.

I assume by long haul you mean SM and not MM optical modules.

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Different brands of switches can be connected by SFP modules via compatible cables. SFP can work through several kinds of cables, not limited to commonly-used fiber. There are also copper transceivers,like 1000BASE-T transceivers with RJ-45 which take Cat 5 as transmission medium.

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