What is our primary use case?
We used them for our traffic signal network. We used the switches to communicate our traffic signal data and any type of data from the controllers through fibre and twisted-pair copper to backhaul to the traffic management center at City Hall. We are able to change signal timing, see if the traffic signals were going into flash, etc. We have communications from City Hall out to each of our traffic signal cabinets.
How has it helped my organization?
They improved our communications through our traffic signal network. We were able to plug a couple of traffic signals into these switches, traffic signals that we did not have on our network, and get them on our network so we could have communication.
The switches also gave us more ways to keep networks connected than we had before. There was an increase because we were able to use the fibre ports instead of using the copper ports, so that helped give us more options. The ways to keep connected went up by about 60 percent.
We also used them for IoT and the switches were excellent. They did exactly what we needed them to do and did exactly what they said they could do. We did not test them to their full potential but I don't see any reason why they would not reach that potential. This IoT aspect improved customer service. The public will call in an issue with traffic signals and I was able to go in there and look at that traffic signal through City Hall, instead of having to drive out and physically look for an issue. I was able to deduce an issue from City Hall instead of going out into the field. That narrowed down the time it took to find the issue and fix the issue.
What is most valuable?
The fibre ports that are 10 Gb capacity helped with the travel of a lot of regular as well as video data. Fibre can handle a lot more virtual data than copper twisted-pair, so we got a lot more data and a lot more traffic signals back through the fibre ports, faster, than with copper.
The switch provides an edge solution for campus networks running many devices and the management of this edge solution is very user-friendly. The edge solution is great for high availability. With the edge solution, each traffic signal has several items that need to be plugged into the traffic signal switch that we're testing, and with all the ports being used, the switches worked fine. We also didn't have any security issues with the edge solution; that part was great.
The speeds the switch provides are excellent. I don't know the exact speeds, but they were fast enough for internet communications through the switches when sending data and receiving data.
What needs improvement?
I could see them possibly creating a more intuitive software. It's very user-friendly, but there are some things that aren't very intuitive when programming the switches. We happen to have an IT programmer, the IT part of the City of Modesto was able to help us out, but if another company didn't have IT in their company, it might be a little harder for someone.
For how long have I used the solution?
We used Alcatel-Lucent OmniSwitch Ethernet Switches for about six months.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
They're very stable and rugged switches.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
It was extremely easy to add the ones that we did and I could see it being easier to add more.
How are customer service and technical support?
The customer service was exceptional. They were always quick to answer emails or phone calls and were able to deduce any issues we had, over the phone. They were very knowledgeable.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup of the switches was straightforward. All three switches could be configured the same way, just with different IP addresses. But all the ports were configured the same. It was pretty simple in that regard.
We moved from another solution, and our admins required training for this solution. Alcatel-Lucent's customer service employees came to us and did training and helped us configure the switches, in person.
Including the training, our deployment took one day. Our implementation strategy was to get them configured, put them in the field, and make sure everything was connected properly. There were four users in our organization: the traffic operations engineer for the city, me, as an assistant traffic engineer, and two traffic signal technicians. For deployment we needed one person and we didn't have any maintenance to do.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We had about six different companies that we were testing, including Moxa, Cisco, RUGGEDCOM, and EtherWAN switches.
We tested them in traffic signal cabinets. They were not directly exposed to the weather, but they did get hot and cold. The OmniSwitches were very ruggedized and never had any issues with the heat, especially given that we get triple-digit temperatures here in the Central Valley of California.
Alcatel-Lucent had one of the better customer service departments, in terms of responding in a timely manner and quickly getting done the things we needed done. Their switches were pretty comparable to the rest of the products when it comes to functionality, size, and capabilities. They were all pretty similar, but Alcatel-Lucent's customer service stood out and their software was one of the better, user-friendly solutions, for people who are not used to doing internet technology based work.
Currently we do not have any OmniSwitches in use. The city decided to use a different software and brand of switch. We did use them for six months. Our internal city system is already Cisco, so the IT director and the public works director decided to keep the city system with one company.
What other advice do I have?
I know these switches have redundancy software capabilities, but we only tested three switches, so we didn't really have the amount it takes to test redundancy and resiliency at a larger scale. We didn't quite have enough to test that to its full extent.
Overall, everything worked as they said it would. Based on our experience, Alcatel-Lucent was a very good company, friendly and easy to work with. They had a good product that was able to meet all our needs.