Small business networking hardware
November 26, 2007 9:32 AM   Subscribe

Supporting about 35 computers and have had two switches (Netgear, Linksys) die in the last year. Looking for suggestions of brands we can stick with that are cheaper than Cisco.

Our network is a mix of Linksys, Netgear, and I think maybe a d-link switch floating around somewhere. Our network has a single 8 port gigabit switch plugged into which we have a 16 port switch, several 8 port switches, Linksys wireless AP, our router/firewall, and the servers. About 8 months ago one of the 8 port switches died, and yesterday (yes, on a Sunday of course -- luckily I keep spare switches around), the 8 port gigabit switch died. I'm going to be chasing Netgear since they seem to have a decent warranty, but I'm now wondering if there is a decently reliable brand of switches that doesn't cost several arms and legs.

I'm just looking at unmanaged switches. We're going to be moving locations early 2008 and I figure it is a good time to get all the hardware setup with the same brand and same models so I can keep the correct spares in stock. Now, we haven't even had this entire setup for more than 2 years and most of the equipment is under a year old. With about 6-7 switches, having 2 go out so soon is really annoying and not good for business.

So, I'm quite willing to listen to any suggestions. I have poked around a bit this morning and noticed Cisco hardware is still way expensive, Netgear now offers a lifetime warranty (which only helps after the fact.. warranties sure don't keep hardware from failing), and that there are a bunch of various brands I don't know anything about.

Thanks again!
posted by prggr to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
HP does ok. The reason folks buy cisco isn't the gear itself, it's the support contracts where anywhere in the world I can get a replacement to my site within 4 hours.
posted by iamabot at 9:39 AM on November 26, 2007


I *highly* suggest HP's Procurve line which have lifetime warranties. You can get them fairly inexpensively off from Ebay.

I have a 40 port 4000M on my shelf as a backup switch.
posted by SirStan at 9:48 AM on November 26, 2007


And by lifetime warranties, I mean the 4000M I have had the management board go bad in it.. HP overnighted me a replacement switch core (no switch modules or power supplies), and I returned my damaged core. No creditcard, no questions. Their support guys are top notch.
posted by SirStan at 9:50 AM on November 26, 2007


And of course, if you are an elegable 501c3, there is Cisco @ TechSoup that comes with a 5 year support contract for almost no money.
posted by SirStan at 9:51 AM on November 26, 2007


actually Dell's switches are surprisingly good. their warranty/replacement is also excellent.

I'm a Cisco guy myself, and know what they can cost. Having argued with my CIO to spend $12,000+ on a 48pt GigE switch is not fun. have you considered their Catalyst Express 500 series?

invest in your network now and you'll not have to deal with this kind of stuff in the future.
posted by spish at 9:53 AM on November 26, 2007


Dell, HP's Cisco are all generally the way to go, if you don't need 4x9's uptime you can get away with 2business replacement.

If you don't care about support, Ebay or find a reseller and make them warranty the gear for 3 years.
posted by iamabot at 9:58 AM on November 26, 2007


Thirding HP. Their switches, even the managed ones, are cheap and very nice. Every time one of my inherited 3Coms dies I replace it with an HP and I have yet to see one skip a beat.

I've also had good experiences with Ciscos, though they are pricy, as you say.
posted by pocams at 9:59 AM on November 26, 2007


Haven't used HP stuff, but manage about 30 Cisco routers of various levels, yeah it's the support and quick replacement even at 3am. For switches, your 'unmanaged' knocks me for a loop, maybe still out of your budget but maybe Enterasys.... I have about 1,500 Enterasys switches in my network, I <3 them. They make some 8-12 port small business like things but I'm not familiar with them. Their 48 port or 7x72 port switches are a pleasure to work with.
posted by zengargoyle at 10:50 AM on November 26, 2007


HP is great, Cisco costs 50-100% more per port than anything else. Get a 48 port of whatever you decide on.
posted by rhizome at 11:11 AM on November 26, 2007


Dell switches are fairly cheap and have never failed us, and Linksys has also been surprisingly good (they're a great cheap alternative if you need PoE switches as well - 24 ports for $450). Both of them produce enterprise quality web-managed rackmount switches for a fraction of what you will pay for Cisco.

It sounds like your network is a little cobbled together - unless you have those 8-port switches at your employees desks because you don't have enough wall ports, you should really consolidate switching to a couple rackmount 24 or 48 port switches in your network closet. I've never found the little desktop switches (especially Netgear) to be reliable for core network switching, regardless of the office size.
posted by chundo at 11:59 AM on November 26, 2007


Thanks for all the responses so far. Seems general consensus is HP or Dell. We sell widgets online and so reside in a 20,000 sqft warehouse and so distances are great and the computers in various areas tend to be clustered. That's why the extra 8 port switches.. Like for shipping, I have one line going all the way out there to its own switch which then feeds the 6 computers/printers that are out there. I like the idea of consolidating down to one 48 port switch, however, I really don't like the idea of running 6 individual lines 200' around whatever obstacles and then having to do it again in the future if we need to add a computer in that area. Maybe there's some trick I'm not seeing in that regard?
posted by prggr at 12:04 PM on November 26, 2007


I've had bad experiences with Netgear switches in the past with ports that stopped working. Dells seem to be great, as do HPs. Since switches are pretty cheap these days, it's always a good idea to have a spare or two. If you're moving, I strongly suggest getting the new place wired up. If you even *think* you need a port in a certain location, get it wired, especially in the warehouse and especially in the out-of-the-way areas. Heck, even double-up. It'll be much cheaper to do it all at once than a year down the line.
posted by edjusted at 12:36 PM on November 26, 2007


No problem with the big warehouse and splitting it all up into smaller switches, it's very common to work with that topology. No need to account for the 543 rule or anything like that if you stick with switches all around.
posted by rhizome at 12:47 PM on November 26, 2007


Makes sense. I would still advise avoiding Netgear, however.
posted by chundo at 8:02 PM on November 26, 2007


I have a network with 10 hp 2848s, and they are great, very solid. I have also used 4000/8000ms and they worked really well also.

As far as smaller edge switches, I have probably 15-20 smaller 8 port switches from just about everyone, and netgear is the worst. I have a bunch of linksys gigE port switches, and for some reason, all the fans are screwed and they make all sorts of noise, but they are still solid.
posted by brent_h at 10:33 PM on November 26, 2007


Thanks for all the great responses. I'm going to go with HP at this point. Lifetime warranty sounds too good to me. :)
posted by prggr at 7:08 AM on November 27, 2007


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