What is our primary use case?
Alcatel is a good switching solution. I have not had any serious issues with the product in the last 10 years. I'm the direct contact of the administration so I would know. I don't remember if one or two times there was some little complication. But the issue is not actually from the switch side. The actual problem was in our fiber switch. So there were some very minor issues but nothing like a failure.
As far as the rest of our infrastructure, we use no particular VPN device because now we have a separate firewall device. So we have configured the VPN in the firewall devices directly and for the storage, we are using HP solutions.
What is most valuable?
We are not using many of the extended features of the product because our network here in this company is a very standard network. We are using optical fiber connectivity in all our departments, so the aggregation is good. The VLAN feature is very good and easy to manage. We have multiple VLAN and because the Alcatel product is easy to use, it is easy to manage and configure them through the switches.
What needs improvement?
The question of what should be improved is difficult because it can become very technical. From my perspective, I think that the switches should be compatible with all the other switches like Cisco and IBM or any other brands. Sometimes I feel that the Alcatel switches are not working harmoniously with some of the Cisco Switches.
I mostly have experience with Cisco which is supposed to be one of the best solutions. I had a lot of confidence in that product because I worked with the product and knew the reputation. I didn't listen to anyone in other companies that were using the Alcatel or other solutions. When I switched companies and found everything was Alcatel, I was afraid at that time that the product would not be so dependable. Now I am very confident from my experience with both products that these Alcatel switches are on par with Cisco.
Sometimes there are long vacations in Saudi Arabia of 10 days or 15 days in the government. So we are not in the offices for long periods of time. But over those periods we can keep our eyes closed and be confident while we are sleeping at night because we can have confidence in the infrastructure we have built. We never have any issues in our infrastructure.
For how long have I used the solution?
Our company has been using Alcatel brand switches for about 12 years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
This product is very stable.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
This is a very scalable solution. In my experience, it is exactly 100% scalable. For example, I have some older Alcatel switches and I was shocked last time when I purchased the latest model. When I went to the features, it was very convenient and familiar. Then when I finished the install and configured everything, I couldn't tell the difference between the new and older models because they look very much the same. There were no bugs or issues between the new and the old. So this is a very good upgrade indeed and the software is not changed very much in the newer models so that it is incompatible with older models. They are almost the same interface and the same configuration. So it's very convenient and easy for us to be in administration and management when products have this kind of consistency. We are not forced into big expenditures replacing old hardware for every upgrade somewhere else in the infrastructure.
The total number of users is more than 255 persons for those users on our system. I don't think that scaling that number of users will affect the switches.
How are customer service and technical support?
The technical support for the product is excellent. There are no issues with that. For the last 10 years that I have been here working on this infrastructure and I have not found any issue with the technical support if I contacted them. But I also remember only two or maybe three times I contacted the technical support for some information. It is very good and they are responsive. There is no issue at all.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
Actually, we are using multiple brands of switches from different vendors. It is all Cisco and Alcatel switches, but primarily Alcatel at this point. Some are the newest versions but not all and we maintain the older products. At another company, I used Cisco only because they preferred the Cisco product. So I have worked on Cisco for a longer period of time, but for 10 years I have been using both the Alcatel and Cisco switches.
The reason for switching to Alcatel comes down to I was simply changing jobs and that was what they used.
How was the initial setup?
Normally the setup is very easy and not complicated. I regretfully don't know how long it took to deploy originally because this has happened before I joined this company.
What other advice do I have?
As someone with long-term experience with the product, I can say that you can trust the Alcatel switches. Earlier, before moving to this company, I did not work with Alcatel switches. When I came here and found out that we have Alcatel Switches, it seemed a little strange to me that I wasn't going to be using Cisco switches. I continued for some time a bit worried thinking that we would have some issues. But now, after 10 years, I can say I have complete trust in this product.
On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate this product as a nine out of ten. The only reason it is not a ten is the compatibility issue where the Alcatel switches should be more compatible with other brands and not just amongst their own products. I don't think it is a serious issue as we use the Cisco and Alcatel together now. I just think this compatibility and flexibility could be better.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?