Huawei Ethernet Switches Review

Has valuable spanning tree protocol and routing features but they should improve the knowledge base library

What is our primary use case?

For my own use case, I am a reseller for the switches. For my clients' use case, it is using the products as switches to build out their network connections.  

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features will be those features that are really considered as basic features of this type of switch. That includes things such as spanning tree protocol, Huawei's proprietary intelligent stacking called iStack, and the routing features that come along with the switch software package.  

Because Huawei does not charge any license fee on extra features I can repackage it. When you buy a switch from Huawei, the switches come along with a lot of features that you do not need to pay extra money for but you can use these features to build out similarly to something like Cisco switches. There are some features that it does not include, so you have to pay some extra license fee to enable those capabilities.  

What needs improvement?

To improve the ethernet switches, I think first of all that Huawei should improve their knowledge base library. When people like me are trying to look for documents to study about the product to find a solution, sometimes the particular information I am looking for is quite hard to find. It should be an easy task to find a suitable document as a reference. By comparison, it is very easy to locate the information that you need for the Cisco systems. I just type the name of any features or any questions I might have into Google and I can find what I need in a matter of minutes. With Huawei, it is not that simple.  

I think the support also needs to be improved. Right now you have to be able to speak Mandarin in order to communicate with those technical experts and express your problem to make them understand what it is. When they know they can give you a solution to solve your problem, and the support is good in that way it is good. But they need more support for other languages. When I work with Cisco, for example, you can generally speak in English. I am not saying that the support people at Huawei do not know how to communicate in English at all, but find it quite difficult to communicate well with them because they have a very heavy Mandarin accent when speaking in English. It is better to just speak with them in mandarin if you can.  

Because I work only so often with the Huawei brand, I think these might be the only suggestions I have. I spent a long time with the technology but have not gotten very deeply into discovering the smaller details of Huawei switches until recent years.  

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using the product for three years.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of the brand is constantly getting better and has improved over time. Early on, I actually was working with this brand and have experience with it from seven or eight years ago for a short period of time. As I worked with it, I found it was sometimes hard to explain to the customer when the system became unstable. But Huawei seems to have resolved these issues now.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In terms of scalability, Huawei is catching up to the big brothers in networking. For example, it is doing more to compete with Cisco, i-Tree or Brocade switches. Their scalability is quite good and sometimes they develop proprietary technology similar to other brands, like borrowing from Cisco. But some people say that the brand is just trying to copycat features that already exist in other brands. To copy is good sometimes, but to develop their own new technology is more important than copying something from other companies. It is not quite best practices to steal some technology and ideas from other companies.  

How are customer service and technical support?

I would say that the technical support responds quite well. Because we are in the same time zone, it is quite easy to find people for troubleshooting or support. Just in case they cannot solve my problem, they can look for other knowledgeable resources within the same time zone who can address the issue. Some other brands, like Cisco, will usually pass the case to another time zone. They work in a protocol which some people call "follow the sun." So sometimes when people are working in one time-zone and they pass the case to people in another time zone, there might be some problem or some information that gets lost about the dialogue explaining the issue. When that happens, you have to repeat the questions and dialogue and it can take the people responding some time to pick up what had already been explained. So it wastes time at the end of the day.  

How was the initial setup?

I believe that the question about setup complexity really depends on which models of the switches are being used. For the middle to low-end switches, it is quite intuitive. But for higher-end models, you must have experience in understanding not only Huawei technology but should also have a very clear concept of what you want to accomplish in networking. So, configuration-wise, I do not personally find any difficulties in configuring Huawei switches provided that I find the configuration guide and read it briefly before I put in any commands into the switch. However, less experienced users could potentially have problems.  

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

Huawei comes with a lot of features out of the box that you have to pay extra for with other products. They do charge extra in the licensing for certain other features, however, so some of those capabilities are an additional charge.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I have used quite a few ethernet switches. I have mostly been involved with Cisco, Huawei, and Meraki and I primarily use these three brands. It is not really a matter of choosing only Huawei as a solution in my situation. As a reseller, I need more than one option to satisfy client needs.

What other advice do I have?

The advice I would give people who are considering this product as their switching solution is that if you are looking to satisfy the needs of a small scale project and want a pretty good price, then you might go for it. But you might be sacrificing security or risking involvement in a politically unstable situation. China and the U.S. are very tense with their political positions at the moment. They are facing some sort of trade war. If you need some components to produce or manufacture a product like a Huawei switch it is possibly going to be a tense situation. The chips are an important and really a vital component to complete development and upgrades or maintenance. Without that availability, the switch cannot work properly if something happens. So security and material swapping are the major issues to consider as a potential risk of adopting the product.  

On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate the Huawei ethernet switches as a five. I rate it a five, or really average, compared with a product like Cisco switches. Cisco switches really rate something more like an eight or eight-and-a-half.  

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

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