HisMajestyTheKing

Switches: managed or unmanaged?

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A colleague has too check what it would cost to replace the hubs and switches we have now with 1 or 2 large switches. He thinks of 3Com OfficeConnect Baseline switches because they're cheap. I'm thinking more of managed switches so it's possible to see where there are problems in the network. What should I look for though?

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managed vs unmanaged

expensive / cheap

loads of fietures / basic functionality

if your network used hubs, and the only reason you change the ones into shitches is performance - you need not a managed switch (unless your it budget has overload of mony to spend).

in case money is not a limit - hp procurve switches are the best (its not only mine opinion)...

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Personally i would probably go with a HP Procurve switch of some sort. like a 2524/48 pr 2626/50 if you want managed... They have great value, great professional support, and they are not as expensive as their competitors Cisco and extreme networks.

For a bargain price i know D-link makes managed switches too, but im not sure of neither the quality or performance of these switches.

Darking

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Tha main reason to replace the existing infrastructure is reliability. There are 8 hubs and switches (basic 3Com OfficeConnect stuff) throughout the house for about 40 network devices (workstations, servers and printers). It's an incredible mess. One or two large switches should replace everything, depending on how new cabling can be done. I've not doubt speed would increase but the biggest problem we face now is that one or more of the hubs gives bad signals once in a while and everything has to be reset. With our mess, troubleshooting is nearly impossible and nobody wants to take the time to see what exactly is wrong.

HP is out of the question as they're biased towards 3Com over here. They're biased about pretty much everything...

My idea was to put a switch in the basement and one in the attic and connect them and then devices as is easiest for cabling. It's not always easy to get cables from upstairs to the basement.

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if there's a question about it managed is usually unnecessary (and will go unused). in the states i like to use dell powerconnnect 24+2 (fast/gige) switches connected to an 8-port head gige switch, all unmanaged. does the trick and offers some expansion/reconfiguration options.

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Biased towards 3COM switches? Like preferring Chevy over Mercedes. Obviously, getting the best switch is not a priority.

That being said, I think the primary reason to get a managed switch is not for troubleshooting. It's for VLANs.

VLANs are terrific for segregating traffic (say, for security reasons). If you think you will need to do that in the future, get a managed switch now. Otherwise, save the money and buy unmanaged.

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> VLANs are terrific for segregating traffic (say, for security reasons).

Security through obscurity? Nice.

There is nothing obscure about VLANs.

They're a legitimate security tool. I too would've prefered some other switch, than HP, but now that Ive used them, they're pretty nice. (I dont much care for 3com either - whatever happened to intel's switches? they where the best)

We use these:

http://www.hp.com/rnd/products/switches/sw...es/overview.htm

Nice switch, lots of features, everything is hotswapable.

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Having used both unmanaged and managed switches I would now never want to use an unmanaged switch again. Where I work (a school) the policy used to be to do things as cheaply as possible, i.e. buying unmanaged switches, etc. What we've found is that buying the cheap stuff only ends up costing us more in the long run. You buy the cheap stuff and then a year or two later someone wants to change something in the network and the cheap stuff isnt capable of handling it so you have to buy something new. If you'd bought the more expensive stuff to start off with the second purchase (and the time required to install/configure it) wouldn't have been necessary and money would have been saved.

We now use managed HP Procurve switches all over (about 15 in all), they've been very reliable, HP's warranty is superb and no quibble (lifetime next day replacement). The thing that really makes the decision easy to justify is the fault finding on them. We installed the new managed switches and quickly discovered that a fair bit of our CAT 5 had been badly installed and had been causing major problems on out network. We had already manually debugged part of the network, which took hours and hours, the time taken to debug the rest of the network with the HP switches was minutes (we did the debug a couple days after installing the switches in order to make sure the switches had had time to see traffic over the cabling).

The cost difference between managed and (good) unmanaged switches is not huge and if the managed switches highlight 2 or 3 problems with your network they will have probably paid for themselves. Remember decent managed switches will offer features like VLANs, Port based Authentication, SNMP reporting, Multicast filtering, broadcast control, and lots more. You might not need the features straight away but you'll need at least some within the lifetime of the product. I assume you're buying switches with the intention of using them for the next 5-10 years.

One other point I would make is that I will never purchase 3com again. We have had nothing but trouble from 3com products. Their managed switches are far inferior to the HP ones (more difficult to use, do not provide the fault finding, not as good warranty, must pay for firmware updates, etc etc). I'm not saying HP are the best but for the price and small/medium networks they are highly recommended.

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I'll start by saying that I agree with others have said. Managed switches do have their benefits. (VLANs, QoS, SNMP reporting, etc).

At the moment at work we are running a Cisco Catalyst 2950T-24 (24 Fast + 2 GigE), as the main switch, with a bunch of unmanaged swicthes (DLink/Netgear) hanging off it, for further connectivity. The servers are all on the Cisco, and QoS is set to give those ports and ports to other switches higher priority over other ports which only have PC's connected. Works like a treat.

Just something to consider, (ie having all servers on managed switches, and PC's on unmanaged switches).

PS. Cisco has done a huge price drop on their SMB stuff recently, so don't discount Cisco (but you will need to shop around, as many businesses haven't dropped their prices even though Cisco has). I also don't have anything bad to say about HP Procurve stuff either...

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Don't for get Netgear managed switches. Great bang for the buck and many admin features.

I have about 5 FSM750s models and one 12port Gb L3 switch as my core switch.

I would if I could do it all over again perhaps get an HP, but formy current needs Netgear has been great.

The 3Com's handling my VOIP on the other hand are terrible.

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We've been using 7 Dell Powerconnect 5224 24 port Gigabit Ethernet switches (rebadged SMC TigerSwitch 8624T) for the past year and they've been great. Pretty cheap too.

They're not Full Layer 3 switches but they've proven more than good enough for our needs. (They only support 6 trunks per switch and they have no stacking ports so they're really only good in an environment with <= 150 devices.

We've had 3Com in the past... wouldn't recommend them at all.

We've also have a Netgear 24*10/100, 2 * GigE Switch and a couple of entry level Cisco 24*10/100, 2 * GigE. Both have been fine but the Ciscos cost 5 times more than the Netgear, so I'm disappointed it can't make coffee or play chess!!!

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We've been using 7 Dell Powerconnect 5224 24 port Gigabit Ethernet switches (rebadged SMC TigerSwitch 8624T) for the past year and they've been great. Pretty cheap too.

They're not Full Layer 3 switches but they've proven more than good enough for our needs. (They only support 6 trunks per switch and they have no stacking ports so they're really only good in an environment with <= 150 devices.

We've had 3Com in the past... wouldn't recommend them at all.

We've also have a Netgear 24*10/100, 2 * GigE Switch and a couple of entry level Cisco 24*10/100, 2 * GigE. Both have been fine but the Ciscos cost 5 times more than the Netgear, so I'm disappointed it can't make coffee or play chess!!!

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It seems 3Com isn't exactly popular :)

Why?

honold, they certainly won't buy Dell because whatever is purchased must be available at Ingram Micro or Techdata. I think 3com, HP, Netgear, SMC, D-Link, Linksys and Cisco are available.

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Been browsing the HP website. The unmanaged Procurve 2300 and 2700 and managed 2500, 2600 and 2800 series would be good. Haven't checked prices yet :)

For those who have experience with these, can any Gb port be used to stack onto another switch ?

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From the Installation and getting started guide for the 2300 and 2500 series:

Stacking the Switches (Series 2500 only)

The Series 2500 switches can be connected together, through standard

network connections, and managed through a single IP address. Up to 16

switches can be connected together in such a “virtual stackâ€.

You identify one of the switches as the “Commander†and give that switch an

IP address. Up to 15 other switches in the network can then easily be

configured as Members of the stack and managed through the Commander’s

IP address. The management includes Telnet access and web browser interface

access to the Commander and to each Member switch through the

Commander.

For more information on stacking your Series 2500 switches, please see the

Management and Configuration Guide that came with your switch.

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Don't for get Netgear managed switches.  Great bang for the buck and many admin features.

I have about 5 FSM750s models and one 12port Gb L3 switch as my core switch.

I would if I could do it all over again perhaps get an HP, but formy current needs Netgear has been great. 

The 3Com's handling my VOIP on the other hand are terrible.

Maybe this is what you need:

NetGear Releases 48-Port Gigabit Smart Switch Aimed At SMBs

http://www.networkingpipeline.com/showArti...icleID=47902168

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Everyone seems to like the Procurves, which I considered before I went managed. Instead, I chose 3com 4400s based on price/features/performance. I have only good experiences with these. Though I do not like having to pay for firmware upgrades (which are actually feature upgrades, so it’s not that bad) and the build quality isn’t that hot. But it’s a fine switch IME. A managed switch can easily pay for it self with just a few trouble tickets.

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Everyone seems to like the Procurves, which I considered before I went managed. Instead, I chose 3com 4400s based on price/features/performance. I have only good experiences with these. Though I do not like having to pay for firmware upgrades (which are actually feature upgrades, so it’s not that bad) and the build quality isn’t that hot. But it’s a fine switch IME. A managed switch can easily pay for it self with just a few trouble tickets.

I'm not sure about performance but for us the Procurves are far and away better than the 4400. We have a 4400 (a purchasing decision that we regret) and plenty of HP 2524's and 2650's. The easy of use of the software on the HP's compared to the 3com is staggering - the 3com interface seems very dated. HPs fault diagnostics are also worlds better. Can't fault the build quality on them either. I'm sounding like a HP fanatic here, I'm not, but I do find 3com really distasteful. Everytime we have bought something from them we have either been burnt or left disappointed.

I agree that a managed switch can pay for itself very quickly but I also feel that a 3com will take significantly longer to pay for itself than a HP purely due to the quality of the software.

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Another problem seems to be availability of 3Com stuff. Ingram Micro or TechData seem to have very limited stock and they say 3Com as a company isn't doing very well.

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