Dell PowerConnect Switches Review

Easy to configure and integrates well with Cisco hardware, but incompatible with SDN

What is our primary use case?

Dell PowerConnect Switches make up part of our network and they are connected to our Dell servers.

What is most valuable?

Dell PowerConnect Switches are easy to configure.

These switches fully integrate into our Cisco switches without any problem.

What needs improvement?

It would be helpful if there were an option to use the device as either a switch or a pass-through for the traffic from inside to outside. This would mean that we would not have to replace hardware in some cases. I think that the IBM switches have this feature.

It would be great to have modules that integrate with SDN solutions such as Cisco ACI, Arista SDN, Huawei Agile, and IBM.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Dell PowerConnect Switches since 2012.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have never had a problem with any of our Dell switches. I would say that these switches are stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Two modules can be stacked on a single chassis. We have approximately 60 chassis with two modules each, so 120 Dell PowerConnect switches. These are connected to Cisco switches at one end of the network.

How are customer service and technical support?

My team has not had much contact with Dell technical support because the Dell switches belong to another team. We are only responsible for installing and configuring them.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We also have Cisco switches in our environment. It is probably 80% Cisco and 20% Dell.

I also have experience with Huawei, HP, and Juniper switches. Huawei switches used to use a similar set of commands, but they are different now. HP uses almost the same command set. Juniper switches are more difficult to work with.

In our data center, we have also used Arista switches.

How was the initial setup?

I have not found any problems with the installation or configuration of Dell switches. I used a basic configuration so it is simple. It takes perhaps half an hour to deploy.

What about the implementation team?

We have a team but I deployed this solution myself. There is a guide available to assist with the installation and configuration. The commands are similar to Cisco, which makes it easy to use.

What other advice do I have?

We have decreased our use of Dell PowerConnect Switches in the past year because we are moving to virtualization and using SDN switches. The problem comes about because it is difficult to see the server end-point directly on the SDN. For our Dell servers, we are replacing the switches with pass-through modules because the spanning tree loops are the same. 

My advice for anybody who is considering this solution is to consider issues that might occur when using devices from multiple vendors. We found this difficult because of the integration. We like Dell because it is easy to use and it integrates well with Cisco. However, we are now having a problem where it does not integrate well with SDN. If the environment requires connectivity to SDN then these switches may not be suitable.

Rating this solution as a switch, I would say that it is eight and a half out of ten. However, with respect to integration with new technologies, it is not mature enough and I would rate it a five out of ten.

Overall, I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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