What is our primary use case?
We use the solution in-house. The network we have is not a very large one and we have in the vicinity of 300 terminals. So, it is used with IP telephony.
We also use the solution for all the classic interactions between the terminals and memories, which is how these switches are classically used. This is different than the cases that we study and we tell our clients what to do since we are an engineering consultancy. So, we work with the government building for more than 3,000 access points. This would involve hospitals with 2,000 or more access points in respect of medical energy. We are currently working on towers building and are endeavoring to move into a passive optical local area network.
The switches will be replaced by splitters. This is a completely optical device by which the switch is at the office or the room end. I foresee this as the future, in which the entire layer of switches will disappear. I don't know if you are up to speed on the current trends, but these concern passive optical local area networks in which all the intelligent switching is in the main room with the big OLTs. In this case we are splitting an optical, meaning the fiber will go to the room or even to the device, not to the office. This will depend on whether the device has an optical interface.
So, we are making strides and advising our customers, which is not easy.
How has it helped my organization?
The solution did improve our organization. For example, we had an application, which is a building beam for building information modeling. This involved tremendous number crunching and many files involving the building engineering structure. We were suffering from latency from the network speed and had to make servers especially for this application. These servers are virtualized. Of course, the speed of the switches allowed us to have a stable installation especially for this application. We are talking about a major application, involving a software collaborative work such as Autodesk Revit.
We are now discovering these and are at ease with this new installation. We now feel at ease when it comes to working on this.
What needs improvement?
The price should be lowered as concerns flash backup. This would enable us to get rid of all of the mechanical, hard disks, as we currently have a mixture of flash and classic hard disks. I feel that technology is progressing fast enough and I believe that in the near future, within the next 12 months, we'll be able to add all flash backup systems to our solution. As for the switches, I think they will be all right for some time to come. If the network were to improve sufficiently, we would be able to make more use of the cloud, even as concerns the telephone. However, this is not the case at present.
It is difficult for me to point to other areas needing improvement as we have been using the technology for a relatively short period, only around five months, and I am trying to digest what we have. My network engineers would be in a better position to address this issue. Also while our installation is not that large, we are working on huge projects. These are new to Morocco, consisting of two or three years, which is not that much.
This said, we would like to see additional backup solutions, since we have several degrees of backup. For the moment, the final one involves magnetic tapes, which is an IBM solution. We would like to take the thread of these magnetic tapes and have Huawei help us with strategic backup. One of the reasons we backup our system is for fear of ransomware, but we are required to backup everything by the end of each day or at the close of each week. It would be nice to see other solutions which would allow this, as I am not satisfied with the current one involving the use of magnetic tape.
I am not certain that using the cloud is a solution for the time being in Morocco. We are looking with Huawei at the possibility of using hardware. This is a point of concern.
Moreover, we would like to see more security applications. We have network security, such as Fortinet and Fortigate, but we would like to see Huawei come out with its own solution. Maybe this already exists but, if so, it is not yet very well known.
We are satisfied with the switches and, in our approximately six months experience, have not encountered problems. We have not had stoppages or buffer memory. What I would like to see is a complete solution in which the network security is integrated with the switching as well. This way, we could have a single source for the network and not need to rely on Fortinet and Fortigate.
As far as wifi access is concerned, we do have a system, I believe called HP Aruba, but it is old. It would be nice to see this integrated. We are not looking to change things in the short term, but to undertake a six to ten month overhaul involving the wifi and integration of 5G and IOT into our network.
For how long have I used the solution?
We have been using Huawei Ethernet Switches for around five or six months. It's a new experience for us.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
So far, so good when it comes to stability. In the six months which have transpired since using the solution we have yet to encounter any problems. With Alcatel we encountered several problems over the same period. These were solved with internal memory of switches. With Dell we had to restart it to clean the buffers. Since we started using Huawei Ethernet Switches we have not even had occasion to call support. This is in contrast to our experience with Alcatel, although I must point out that they solved our issues rapidly.
How are customer service and technical support?
The support is there and I did not have any problems with it. They intervene very quickly when the backup is there. They answer all questions and the online help line is efficient. It's very good. Huawei also has hundreds of engineers, including Chinese and Moroccan. So, it is well established, which is not the case with others. We have been working for many years with big telephone and communication companies and recently, about three years ago, they got involved in business applications. They have a policy, which is not in place from the beginning. They started to attack the business applications. They had the switches on the floor. I am talking about the Datacom, big structures. They then extended it with a great team. I believe they have involvement in 5G in Morocco, which will be operational by the end of the year, perhaps sooner. They are well established in this country.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
There was a need for us to upgrade our network to one gigabit and to enable fiber channel capabilities. We contemplated all the options available in Morocco, meaning Alcatel, HP, Huawei and several others, all of the ones utilizing Oracle. In the past we made use of Avaya, as we are an engineering consultancy, meaning we deal with big offices and hospitals. So, we know about these things.
We considered all the capabilities of these switches, as well as the price and performance. We came to the realization that Huawei provides much better performance for the same price, even when taking into account very aggressive commercial policies. The prices were lower by 20 or 30 percent with more powerful features. Very importantly, we were able to to take out a five-year guarantee, with a four-year extension option. We are talking only about switches, not servers. In contrast, the other solutions only offered one to two years tops.
How was the initial setup?
The deployment took some time and I would have liked it to be faster. It took a couple of weeks or so.
What about the implementation team?
When it came to the initial setup I had my engineers do all the work. It took us a couple of months to decide on the configuration and to choose the switches.
This said, I would have to consult with our network engineers to properly address the initial installation. It is they who provided me with three detailed reports about the solution and its capacity.
I do know that we conducted meetings with HP, Huawei and Alcatel. While I don't know what the future of switching holds for the latter I can say that Alcatel is alright. With this company we had some installation done of high end products for a hotel.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
The price is the best, 20 percent cheaper than apple to apple and with an extended warranty.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
You should know that we also contemplated the Cisco Suite, but found it to be excessively expensive. It is simply overpriced. Even as Cisco is very established in Morocco, big telecom companies are going the route of Huawei and Nokia. Cisco provides its own passive optical solution. We are contemplating the solutions offered by IBM, Nokia, Cisco and Huawei and our focus is on big installations campus-wise and on big hotels. We are trying to introduce the passive optical technologies, with all the advantages they offer.
What other advice do I have?
We are dealing with all these things in our office. We now have ease when it comes to back-up. We have a very fast spotted system with hard disk storage of 36 terabytes, meaning it is a mixed hybrid which combines flash disks and classic CDs. I am talking about the interface. The old 32 terabyte flash is extremely expensive. We are a mid-sized company, not very big. So our approach is to have this hybrid flash storage system, which allows us considerable speed but with a reasonable price.
As mentioned, our solution is a hybrid. We have certain applications in the cloud, such as office 365. We have other applications, such as engineering software. We also have it in private cloud. For the time being we have a mixed solution as we cannot, at present, put everything in the cloud. In Morocco, the internet connection speed is good but it can be better, since we have huge files with which we must work interactively.
So, sometimes we work on-site and then the file will be stored in the cloud, but all the number crunching is used in working stations on the site, not PCs.
Internally there are around 70 users making use of the solution in our organization and externally around 40 engineers and technicians who are connected to our network country-wide. We even have our mailing system in-house. We use an English-based electronic document, such as PDF, which we have in the cloud. For the moment, our solution is a hybrid between the scientific and office application.
We are using the solution daily and it comprises our entire network, all our work. If it stops we lose money. We use it all the time. Of course, we have the standby generator and all the redundancy of static uninterruptible power supplies, since a single hour of stoppage would equal thousands of euros lost. We are very careful about that. We have one or two configured switches so we can just plug it in and continue to work. We have yet to encounter this problem.
My advice to others who are considering implementing the solution is to negotiate aggressively. Huawei is very good at negotiating, but it is important for the consumer to know the nuts and bolts of the proposal and to derive from it the maximum. Someone with technical knowledge can get many more concessions from Huawei than one without.
I rate Huawei Ethernet Switches as an eight out of ten, as nothing is perfect. This is because the deployment took some time and I would have liked it to be faster.