Please share with the community what you think needs improvement with NETGEAR Switches.
What are its weaknesses? What would you like to see changed in a future version?
I have noticed one thing where we have taken up the multicast group interval time. We have needed to increase that setting. What we found happening were streams would stop until they were reestablished. By taking up multicast group interval time, it resolved that issue. There has been talk in the roadmap from my conversations with the NETGEAR product development guys about a more streamlined web interface that is more friendly to audio visual personnel, such as general technicians. It would be comparable to a package type web interface. That is one of the conversations that we have had that would be beneficial to having a more streamlined web interface. Something that we have also spoken about were VLAN profiles. E.g., preconfigured VLANs that would have a multicast traffic configuration applied where you can select a VLAN that is already preconfigured for standard 1 Gigabit IGMP based video, and then another VLAN that is configured for Dante audio. That is beneficial to where you can check port by port or VLAN by VLAN, enabling a specific protocol. It naturally sets QoS settings as well IGMP settings for that VLAN according to the type of traffic. Another thing that would be a big ask is audio video bridging (AVB). Being able to pass AVB traffic over these switches, that would be a huge add. There are not many switches out that support that. The GS728TP NETGEAR switches used to or still do support AVB, but it would be ideal if the 4300 Series could support it as well.
An area for improvement would be creating a wizard that can do a lot of common stuff. Instead of having some manual configuration for common features, they may want to have a single wizard that could be put in place which would let you walk through creating multiple VLANs and different routes between VLANs in a wizard. Then, you wouldn't have to dig in so deep. This would benefit a lot of our technicians, though if you have a lot of networking experience then the settings make a lot of sense. The very common settings are easy to use. However, some of the more advanced concepts are where it gets complicated, so a wizard for users would make those easier. Therefore, the only area they need to improve on is creating a wizard to help with some of the more advanced features.
It looks like they're going to come up with an auto-config, so if it's a slightly different switch, when you plug them together they will auto-recognize each other. Also, if they could come up with ways to look at metrics on it while the video is capping through the system, that would be nice. There could be some interesting uses for that, but it's a long way off.
They need to continue moving forward with their consulting in the AV realm to find out what is needed. They are some differences in the M4300 line and the larger M4500 line right now. They could produce a 1 Gigabit variety that could be a bit cheaper that might fit into that, since the majority of the projects that we see are still in that 1 Gigabit bandwidth threshold. Along with that, a great option would be if it would provide the same modular ability on a lower level. The only true con for NETGEAR is they are known more for residential applications, wireless routers, wireless pieces, etc. They don't have the reputation of a Cisco or Extreme on the enterprise side. That is the only real "X" against them right now. They have a business portfolio but they are not ranked as high as a Cisco or Extreme piece. They are working on this, as they don't have the name brand loyalty or recognition in the enterprise space that the other vendors have.
One thing I have asked for, something that NETGEAR lacks that I would love to see — and from what I understand it's in the works — is a REST API to programmatically interface with multiple switches. That would be a great feature.
Since this is my first time working with this specific switch interface, the interface was pretty intuitive. The only area I found a little bit confusing was how they separated IGMP. So IGMP integration could be found both in the switching area of the switch, but also in the routing area of the switch. Therefore, it wasn't super clear which of those did which. As a beginner with the switch. it was a bit confusing at first to know, for example, "Where do I need to set this up? If I'm doing this, why does this work, and why doesn't this work?" Otherwise, the interface of the switch is pretty simple. I just found the IGMP a bit convoluted. I was able to reach out to another guy who had used this particular switch in the past. He sort of explained some of the nomenclature that NETGEAR uses to explain things. It's just different from some of the other (especially lower-end) switches that I've worked with. It is just finding out how people explain their particular way to doing things. The IGMP specifics of the web management console could use a bit of clarification. This is sort of a specific thing. Every switch manufacturer has their own idiosyncrasies, like managing Dell switches for QoS, I find to be really weird. However, QoS on the NETGEAR was brilliantly easy and super self-explanatory. I would like an email notification in case of errors or failures. If it was possible for the switch to email out an error log or notification note, especially in cases where we have the switches offsite (on the other side of town), then if something was to go wrong, it would be great to know about it before our client goes to use it for a big event, and it doesn't work. While I know that it does do SNMP, which is sort of standard, in the AV world, that is not always an option for us. We are usually running our own little network box and don't always have access to an SNMP server. We may just have simple Internet access or something similar. This is a very common feature on other managed equipment, like control systems, projectors, and certain power management devices. These have that email notification built into them. A use case that I can think of is say somebody accidentally cuts an uplink wire between two switches. It would be fantastic if your core switch or one of the other switches could notice that disconnect and fire on an email to the manager, or the client, saying, "Hey, we've detected this problem. It happened at this time and date." Instead of having to run around the building trying to find out why things aren't working, you could have that information from a service standpoint ahead of schedule.
NETGEAR's web interface describes settings with names and sentences which are different from other switch manufacturers. Therefore, you must figure out what each one does before you can use it. If you compare it to Cisco, for example, their web interface is a bit more intuitive. The web interface could also be improved when it comes to multicast settings. Especially, that IGMP is spread to “Switching” and “Routing“ is confusing. At first, it is unclear what needs to be setup where. Support for IGMPv3 querier would be appreciated. Currently, only a version 2 querier can be sent by the switches, which is a bit outdated, since version 3 has been on the market for a few years now. Cisco does support querier version 3 in their small business switches. The ‘how-to’ guides could do with some improvements. We got in trouble following the stacking and Dante set-up guides. If these would have been accurate, we would not have lost three days.
They need to implement a fully-featured CLI in their enterprise-class switches if they want to compete in that space and market.
I'd like to see a little bit of slowdown on the firmware updates. They've been doing a lot of them. I don't know if that's just because it's such a new product line, but the firmware updates have been a little annoying because they've been coming once a week. For a switch, that's a little extreme. It's worked for the most part, but we've had to power cycle a few devices. We've had to ask customers to manually power cycle them with the power cord, after some of the firmware updates. Their updating needs a little improvement. But if we're talking about a scale of one to ten, as far as hassles go, where ten is a huge hassle, it's been a two. It would be nice if it came in a couple different colors. Right now, they're just white. Some customers want the whole black setup, they want everything to look black and to be black and these only are offered in white. I had one customer not want it because it was white.
Right now I'm working with their technical support. When the power does go out, or if we do a soft shutdown, some of the transceivers or the monitor don't recognize when it turns back on, so I have to physically unplug it and plug it back in and then it works. We're working with NETGEAR's engineers to figure out why that's happening. Besides that, everything else is working great. It's on a UPS so it hardly ever goes down.
My one issue with it is that not all the features of the switch can currently be managed via the portal. For some of the more advanced features, you still have to configure the switch. We tend not to use those features, so it's not a problem. It's coming along. Quite regularly, the platform is being updated so those features are definitely coming. Every month or two, when I log in, there are new features available online. So we can start to implement the features that, historically, we'd have to go to site to implement. They're not features that are critical to our use. It's the wireless access-point aspect and some of the routing capabilities on the wireless access point that I'm referring to. For example, the peer-to-peer bridging isn't available. You have to configure the access points directly for that.
The remote management tools still need work. They're good, but they still need work. One of the big drawbacks is that the whole tiered administration doesn't work. They've got a tiered user structure where there is a global admin, and then what they call a manager, and then there is a user. The problem is, if anywhere along the line somebody opens up a support ticket, all the correspondence winds up going to the global admin, it doesn't go to the person who opened up the support ticket. They can't seem to get that changed, even when you tell them specifically that the global admin is not the person dealing with this problem. That's very frustrating. Another issue, a technical problem they can't seem to solve, is that it doesn't support multicast packets. In layman's terms, Mac computers can't print over the network. Also, they've got some PoE models, but they need to expand that line a little bit. Finally, it would be nice to have the ability to have SNMP enabled at the same time Net Insight. I would also like to see integration with Auvik.
I've used and sold NETGEAR stuff for a long time and I was really excited about the cloud product. But, there are some design issues on which they really missed the boat. The problem has to do with rack mounting them because the lights and jacks should all be on the front, and the power on the back. The way they did it makes it really difficult to use them in a rack environment, because when the lights are on the opposite side of the jacks. They just don't lend themselves to a rack environment. I'm absolutely amazed that they did what they did because they've been building switches for years and this totally violates all of the design parameters on all their other products. You can't have a device that's expected to go into a rack environment - and they ship with the rack mount - yet the jacks are on one side, and all the indicator lights you need to look at are on the back. You usually can't see the back side of a rack. You can't get back there to see, so it's just crazy. It's like they designed it to hang on a wall, rather than to be mounted in a rack. They're really missing their bigger opportunity by doing that. It's so bad that I have to consider whether or not to use them. What good are indicators if you can't look at them? And you can't do so in the current design because they're on the back side. If you look at their entire product line, nothing is like that. It just makes no sense at all. If they would put the power on the back and the indicators on the front, it would be like every other switch they manufacture, and it would resolve all those issues. I want to use it. I just hope that they fix their design. Another issue, when it comes to NETGEAR's competitors, is that other companies are offering the cloud management at no extra charge, whereas NETGEAR charges for it. You have to pay per-device for licenses.
The management of them, itself, is not so good. You have to go between many different browsers, even some super-old browsers, to be able to do it. That is a super pain. That's critical. If this list were much longer than that, nobody would use their product.
Their old firmware was a problem for us and we're still working on it. It didn't apply correctly so it took about half of our switches offline, which meant we couldn't use some of the functionality like the firmware updates. Unfortunately with that firmware, which they've sorted out, if you don't go through all the firmware and make sure it's past that point and back online, that's an issue. It's something to cautious about. Before you send this to a customer, make sure it's updated to the most recent firmware, otherwise you can't use the features which are the reason you bought the switch. That would be a cautionary tale. And because it's new, there are firmware updates coming pretty often. One other issue was that we did have was one hardware malfunction where we had to replace a switch, which is unusual for NETGEAR. They have some of the best products out there for small to medium-sized businesses. They do have a warranty replacement for five years on the switches, so we got it replaced. It was a bit of an inconvenience. So be a little cautious when buying the equipment. It is still new, it's not like the established NETGEAR switches. There might be some hardware problems in your first year.
The main negative thing is the speed. When you use the portal, if you have a lot of customers and locations in the portal, and you need to scroll through those clients or those locations, it takes a pretty long time to load those pages and to select the client. That's the problem in the portal on the laptop, and it's the same problem in the portal on the app.
There's very little that I see as having large room for improvement, as far as the switches we're using go, for the most part. What I'd like to see is more compatibility with virtual stacking, so that 4300-series switches and 3300-series switches will actually stack together and that virtual switch stacks, themselves, are not limited to just six devices, so that they can create larger loops with more bandwidth and more redundancy. I like the NETGEARs because they do everything exactly how I want them to, for the most part. There's not a lot that I would require for them to do better. It might be nice to see the little things like providing some switches with four SFP ports like they used to have, instead of just two, in those lines that we're looking at on the stackable side. Right now, it seems I have to have either eight SFP ports or two and there's no in-between, that's also stackable and managed, or at least stackable. The problem is that there's got to be enough of a need for them to actually create them. For me, those are little things that I would like to have, just to allow for a little more flexibility in what we're doing.
One area that has room for improvement, and I know NETGEAR is working on it, is adding more features to the product lines in terms of what we can manage through the Insight portal. There are certain features that we can turn on and push down to all the devices, but not all Layer 2 or Layer 3 settings are there yet. NETGEAR is working on that, but one of the things that is not 100 percent is the feature set that they make available through the Insight interface.