Cisco Ethernet Switches Review
Remote management and monitoring, multi-layer switching and flexibility are valuable features.


Valuable Features

Remote management and monitoring, multi-layer switching, flexibility, per port configurations, possibility of port aggregation, standard management interface, loads of documentation available from Cisco and Partners, multitude of troubleshooting tools embedded in the OS, QoS.

Improvements to My Organization

Ease of deployment of internal networks, separation of departments traffic, replacement of hubs (and the respective absence of collision related network unavailability), implementation of VoIP, improved configuration and access management.

Room for Improvement

VTP should be configured as Transparent by default.

Use of Solution

Several years, on different projects.

Deployment Issues

A close look at each part-number characteristics is recommended, especially regarding the type of Uplink Ports (do you need fiber or copper uplinks for example?) and specific protocols (do you need BGP? is RIPv2 enough, for instance), as some of them are only available in specific models or with additional licenses. Selecting the licensing type can be the slightly tricky part, although you can usually upgrade it later.

Stability Issues

Not unless it was caused by malfunction or a mixup in configuration.

Scalability Issues

On the specific cases I used, never. Adding new switches to the networks is painless (but please be careful with the VTP configuration though, as if it’s not configured you do have the possibility of a new switch giving you trouble with the VLAN configuration).

Customer Service and Technical Support

Customer Service: Excellent.Technical Support: Besides the great set of documentation available, partner support is usually good, no issues so far, on different projects.

Previous Solutions

Previous configuration was based on a basic router and switch configuration for each separate network, interconnecting at router level. The needs included reducing equipments, add management to the network to allow central monitoring and configuration, and adding new functionalities to the network, as well as having a buildup of different networks to separate traffic.

Initial Setup

Straightforward if you’re installing for the first time. If it’s not the first installation, and you have multiple VLANs in place, be careful with the VTP configuration setup, as a misconfigured switch, since it’s on VTP server mode, can give you trouble.

Implementation Team

Mixed types of implementations. Mixed expertise levels - some partners have better technicians than others, but never had a case where the technician didn’t leave with the configuration completed.

ROI

Generally a reduction on the number of equipments to manage, less time to manage and higher uptime.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

Day to day costs are the maintenance costs from the manufacturer (different levels available), and part of the time of the IT Team. Setup Costs have depended on projects, and specific setup needs.

Other Solutions Considered

A few, namely Huawei and HP. While Huawei did allow some of the same characteristics at a lower price, available expertise and documentation, tipped the balance to Cisco, and the greater flexibility and feature set tipped the balance from HP.

Other Advice

Check that it’s the most cost effective solution (it’s very expensive if you only want to connect 4 users and a printer.); Check the model that fits your needs, regarding number of ports, and PoE for instance (no need of PoE for most uses.); Main uses would be to use a solution with multiple internal VLANs (needs at least IP Base License), VoIP implementations, and adding security and manageability to the network; Carefully check what License Feature set you need (there are 3 levels, LAN Base, IP Base, and IP Services), depending on your needs. You may be able to upgrade the software feature set later, but should check ahead.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.

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