What is our primary use case?
Cisco Ethernet Switches are the product line I have the most experience with and have been my go-to solution for many years with mid to large organizations over the years. They are still top contenders for environments that need layer 3 functionality in a switch. They have a product line that covers the entire spectrum of switching technology from the high-end Nexus products through the traditional enterprise catalyst models and all the way down to the small business solutions. They seem to have the market covered with a solution to meet any IT shop's needs.
How has it helped my organization?
Cisco switches provide layer 3 functionality on the network taking that load off the security appliance and not requiring a router on the network. This prevents single points of failure for internal data routing and keeps internal routes off the security appliance workload. The CLI is the industry standard and most network professionals learn it and can use it.
The reliability of Cisco Ethernet Switches is amazingly impressive. Maybe I’m lucky but I have not experienced a Cisco Ethernet Switch fail unless caused by a power event such as lightning. I highly recommend connecting switches via fiber-optic connections due to the lack of electrical conductivity. I learned this the hard way when a building with the electrical systems not properly grounded caused a cascade of switch failures during a lightning storm.
What is most valuable?
The CLI is very valuable as it allows network professionals to work fast and customize the configuration however they need.
Cisco Ethernet Switches have great enterprise features like Cisco DNA Assurance. Cisco DNA Assurance features advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning. Cisco AI Network Analytics, a capability within Cisco DNA Assurance, allows easy management of all devices and services, prioritizes and resolves network issues, and ensures a better user experience across the network.
Also, appreciate the industrial line of switches for SCADA or other environments where switches are placed in unconditioned space and the temperatures fluctuate a lot during the seasons.
What needs improvement?
The typical areas of concern for Cisco Ethernet Switches are not technical but cost including support costs. I’ve never liked the fact that end users cannot download security patches without a support contract. I’ve had trouble getting approval to renew Cisco support contracts due to the cost.
The additional charges for the DNA capabilities of the switches further prices the switches are out of contention for a lot of IT shops. I understand the development of this technology is expensive but costs are sometimes borderline ridiculous.
For how long have I used the solution?
I have 25+ years of experience with Cisco switches.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Cisco Ethernet Switches are some of the most rock-solid hardware I’ve had the pleasure of using.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Cisco Ethernet Switches are extremely scalable and have the broadest line of solutions in the market.
How are customer service and technical support?
Cisco's technical support has deteriorated over the years. They have call centers all over the world and sometimes the techs experience levels seem to vary. This seems to be the industry standard though in my experience.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
I have been using Cisco Ethernet Switches my entire career. I really like them but they are not always cost-effective.
How was the initial setup?
If you know the CLI interface the setup is straightforward. If not you are in for a bumpy ride.
What about the implementation team?
It was deployed in-house.
What was our ROI?
ROI is longer than other solutions in the enterprise space but comparable in the small business area of Cisco’s product lines.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Find a Cisco partner that has a lot of volume and pressure them for a better price. There is a lot of markup on the higher end devices. Plan for support contract expenses for the life of the device. Also check the EOL details prior to purchase so you don’t purchase an older device that will not get the years of software updates and security patches you need.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We compared it to Meraki if cloud management would be helpful.
What other advice do I have?
You will not be disappointed with a Cisco solution from a technical perspective. Learn the OS via CLI and you will always have job security too.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?