NETGEAR Switches Review

Enables us to run our backups much more quickly and has a good balance of price, performance, and features

What is our primary use case?

NETGEAR is our distribution switch for our local area network. We have about 80 data hosts connected to our network. They go through another set of switches into this distribution switch. From there they connect to our gateway and to our servers.

The switches are on our premise and there's no special software other than that it's just a network switch.

How has it helped my organization?

It has improved my organization because now the entire network is quicker. A lot of users tell me that things seem faster but they can't really elaborate. My guess is everything is just a fraction of a second quicker going through the network and that adds up at the end of the day.

What is most valuable?

SFP, speed, and 10-Gigabit are the most valuable aspects of this solution. We're an architecture firm and we sometimes deal with large files. Anything we can do to eke out even a fraction of a second less time to get something done over the course of a year adds up. If I can get 10-Gigabit running in my server room, which I am right now, even though we're only gigabit to the desktop, due to the client computers we have, I can get more performance from everybody. I'm ready to start bringing in 10-Gigabit Ethernet to the desktop once I get the hardware to do that.

It's easy to use once you actually read the instructions. There is some searching you have to do on the documentation to find exactly what you're looking to get done but it's all there. NETGEAR's forums were very helpful because people actually pointed me in the right direction when I had problems setting it up.

We use it for IT switching. It is the distribution switch for our network and then I have access switches that feed into this switch that are also 10-Gigabit. IT switching is very nice. I run my backups much more quickly. It works out to about as fast as I thought it would be. I'm quite pleased. It's definitely worth it for what you're getting; a lot of switches, a lot of networks. I looked at a lot of different possible models and products before I bought these and I settled on NETGEAR because I thought there was a good balance of price, performance, and features. And so far, it has worked out.

I have POE switches going into this switch, but I don't use this switch particularly to distribute power. The model I have is not a POE switch. It's just the data switch.

We have server aggregation. Our main file server is aggregated through two SRP interfaces on the switch.

We also have wireless access in our network, but it doesn't talk to this switch directly. It goes through one of our access switches.

What needs improvement?

The feature to change settings on the switch needs improvement. I understand why it's there, I can change the settings on the switch and I have to actually hit save to lock them in, otherwise, on a reboot, the changes revert to the earlier settings. I've forgotten to hit save a couple of times. It should have more of a big red obvious "You need to hit save" button to lock your changes in; that would have been helpful. There were a couple of times where things suddenly stopped working and I realized it was because I rebooted it and undid what I just fixed.

The web interface has been a little sketchy on occasion. Sometimes I have to reload the page to get things to show up properly, but the switch itself seems fine. The web user interface is a little wonky at times.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using NETGEAR Switches for three months. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

So far stability has been good. Now that we've gone live with them, I have not had to restart or shut them down at all.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

If I had to do it again, I might've gotten a bigger switch with more ports on it because I'm using up more of them than I originally thought I would. But that's really not a scalability issue with the switch, that's just me not planning properly.

Only I am responsible for the maintenance of the switches. I'm an IT manager. 

In terms of size, we have about 70 employees, all of whom have ethernet connections through access switches to this switch. This is the core of our network.

I don't plan to increase usage much, if at all. This is what it's going to be for the next few years.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have not used technical support. 

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

NETGEAR replaced some Nortel switches that were about 11 years old. They were end of life and they were not as fast. I had gigabit and 100 megabits switches. I am hoping to have these for another 10 years. I'm going to get 10-Gigabit and gigabit for my network speeds.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward once I figured out what I was doing. It was fine once I acquainted myself with the switch and with some of the features. I was not pressured to get this done quickly. When the pandemic hit, we all went home so I had an empty server room in which to work so I could try to see if they worked and if they didn't, I could try it a different way. I did not have to risk taking down the whole network with people there. That was just a fortunate happenstance.

My implementation plan was to set up this switch along with my new access switches, which were also NETGEAR. I set them up disconnected from our live network. I put everything together, including the SFP uploads, in test client and test phones, and set everything up the way it was going to be. About a month and a half ago, I went in, unplugged the old switches, put in the new ones, and turned it on. It was very quick and easy but it took about a day and a half because we have a lot of cables.

In actual time, it took about a month and a half to deploy. But in actual work hours, it probably took about four days because we were doing it in fits and starts because we were trying to move out of the office when COVID hit.

There's a learning curve, but it's not as difficult as I thought it would be.

What was our ROI?

ROI is a soft benefit. It's hard to know. I don't know if the old switches would've died this morning. 

We have them for two purposes. One, to speed up our network. Two, to refresh with new hardware that isn't a decade old. So it's hard to determine.

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

Technology keeps changing so you don't need to buy something that's going to last 100 years. Buy something that you know you're going to have to replace in five or 10 years and price it accordingly. We were told that the Nortel switches we had bought would last for 10 to 20 years and that we would never have to replace it. Networking got faster in the years between and frankly, those switches got filled with gunk, they physically start wearing out, and fans die. As long as you know that it has a five to 10-year window, why would you pay 20 grand a piece for a switch? I just don't understand that.

There are no additional costs. We pay for licensing, hardware, and cables. That is it.

The pricing was definitely reasonable, I don't know if I'd say low. I think all networking equipment is more expensive than it should be. But NETGEAR had the price point that least annoyed me.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Cisco, Juniper, Dell, and HP but they were all nearly twice the price of NETGEAR. I also had some hesitation to some. There seems to be some hesitation by some IT professionals to use NETGEAR for their enterprise and business networking, but so far, I'm happy.

We also considered Ubiquiti. We have a couple of Ubiquiti wireless access points. So I said, "Well, I'll just look at them." Ubiquiti was a possibility, but a lot of what this came down to was that there seems to be some hesitation in the IT world about using NETGEAR for enterprise and for business use. They do have a pretty large in-home user market. 

I have a couple of older NETGEAR switches that are at least as old as the Nortel ones that I just replaced. They have been on for 15 years and have never been down. I thought that if they're still going, they can't be that bad. I'll try it.

The primary reasons we chose NETGEAR over Ubiquiti, Cisco, and other products are because NETGEAR seemed stable and it frankly seems easier to set up, especially more than something like Cisco.

What other advice do I have?

My advice would be: Don't rush it. Give yourself time between getting the switch and putting it in. That helped me do this properly. Have patience. Read the documentation. Be organized.

NETGEAR has the ability to label the interfaces and you can label different things on the switch in the web interface, while our old switches didn't have this feature. That helps me keep track of what's where. Being organized is really the key to all of this. When I am home I can dial into our VPN, look at the user interface of the switch, and I can tell you what's in every port on that switch.

I would rate NETGEAR Switches a nine out of ten. The only thing that would take away a point would be the user interface. The web interface sometimes needs refreshing and doesn't keep up with what I'm trying to do.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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