Hi Firco, it may be possible it is a smart port issue. The ESW switches are very particular to use the correct smart port roles for the connecting devices. I don't think a hardware replacement is warranted unless the given ports absolutely failed to forward.
As a secondary thought, it could also be a spanning tree issue. Ensure you're using RSTP and/or the host ports have port fast enabled. If using classic spanning tree it takes nearly a minute for a port to go to forwarding state. You can disable spanning tree on the port for testing to quickly rule that out.
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