Cisco Ethernet Switches Review

Provides stable security and configurable VLAN management


What is our primary use case?

We use Cisco as a business switch on a small network of about 30 users. We use it for internet sharing, as centralized management for the network and active directories, as a domain controller, and for file sharing.

How has it helped my organization?

This product provides us with stable security and configurable VLAN management.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable part of this solution for us VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network), MAC authentication and security.

What needs improvement?

For Cisco, the interface between fiscal small business switches and the Cisco Catalyst or Enterprise switch is a little bit different. So, I needed to take some time to understand how this will impact the network if we plan to scale it in the future and to learn the different interfaces. I think it would be better for Cisco to unify the interfaces between their products. It might make it easier for users to use different models concurrently as different versions of switches and improve scalability.

It is not really a feature of the solution itself, but I also think that the technical support directly from the company should be better in the area of handling integrations.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this product for around 10 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I am very satisfied with the stability. We have not suffered any stability issues with the product being unstable on the network and it is not difficult to support. It is a very rare thing to have something happen that is related to the stability of the product.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Once you understand how the product works, it is easy to configure. I do not see any significant limitation on the scalability of the product so long as you have chosen the right product for use in your environment.

How are customer service and technical support?

In most cases when I need to solve an issue, I search for a solution on Google and in the internet communities. I usually find what I need there. So mostly I don't need any help from support.

When I contact support, most of the time they provide good information and they are helpful, but sometimes they will not help. The problem is with acknowledging the need for integration support. If you call about integration between products, they might say something like "this is Cisco and we do not support this other product, we are supporting only Cisco products." Cisco is not the solution for everything, and they must know that the product integrates or gets integrated into a network. They are aware of that and should have the experience to help users integrate products when their product is involved. 

So, overall I'm satisfied with technical support if I call with an issue that is related only to the Cisco product, but sometimes I'm not satisfied when an issue is related to integrating or connecting with other products.

Technical support could be better in this way.

If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?

As I moved around between three or four companies to get better jobs and positions, all of them were using Cisco. In some places, we were using HP ProCurve switches. Having that experience previously is the reason why we went with Cisco for the network at this company. It costs more, yet we get a stable product with the most features. Cisco is more reliable, especially in a critical environment.

How was the initial setup?

For small networks, the initial setup is straightforward. You can simply connect the product to the network and it would work. But the configuration for VLANs, to configure specific ports, and to configure security, the product has a little different interface than other Cisco solutions. So the first time setup it easy. You just have to connect and it is plug-and-play. But the difference in the interface between models makes it harder to understand the version and adapt to the differences from the other types of Cisco switches. If the interface had been the same, it would have been very quick to set up.

What about the implementation team?

Actually, I did the deployment by myself. I didn't need any help or support from the vendors. If I do ever need help, I usually go to the internet and use the community and forums. In extreme cases — and very rarely — I contact the vendor directly. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It is certainly not the least expensive product for switching, but I think it is the best and if you have the budget it is worth it.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I evaluated other options by my previous experience, so, in a way, we did evaluate other choices, but I had already made up my mind because of what I knew.

What other advice do I have?

Cisco is the better solution if someone is considering it and they are willing to pay for it. The product is expensive to buy. In my current position, the budget is not a problem. If other people are in a similar situation where they can afford Cisco, I recommend Cisco. If they do not have a big budget and they need to be more budget-minded, I can recommend the HP ProCurve (now HP Networking) and D-links (Ethernet Switches) as my first choice for less expensive options.

On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate Cisco ethernet switches as an eight. It is not a ten because of the differences in the interface and the quality of integration support with other products.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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