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Question Suggestions for Enterprise-level gear (used) for SOHO in mid-2021

fkoehler

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Feb 29, 2008
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One of the more common questions seen in the forum are along the lines of 'Whats the best switch for...".

We normally see multiple replies along the lines of D-Link, TP-Link, Acme, etc.

Oftentimes, a few replies will suggest used Enterprise-level gear for the same or lower price.

The downsides of this from a consumer POV are:
1. Usually requires domain specific knowledge to configure, no fancy GUI
2. Power budget is usually much greater than commodity as Enterprise is normally 24-48 port units
3. Licensing, which depends upon Manf. and may limit the ability to upgrade firmware (Cisco..)

Until recently, all my experience has been Cisco. Yes, we all knew Cisco was over-priced, and not always the best.
However those decisions were usually made above our level, and most large companies are paying 50% MSRP if not better.

There are folks who really want to get the most bang for their buck, and are willing to consider stepping up to real hardware.

In mid-2021, what are some manf's/platforms you pro's would recommend that hit the sweet spot of price vs performance available?

Until recently I normally gravitated to Cisco, however one poster on here pointed out Brocade 66xx series which looks fantastic the brief minute I checked it out. Downside is it seems to like Cisco, require some sort of license which could be a deal-breaker when buying used w/out current license info.


I thought some of the pro's out there might like to spread the word on any killer deals they believe are overlooked by many of us.
 

Fallen Kell

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
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I'm probably the poster about the Brocade. As for the licensing issues, there is a HUGE monster thread about these ICX switches over on "serve the home" (google "serve the home ICX" and it will be the top result most likely), that goes all into these switches, how to wipe them, install new firmware, and configure them in ways even that the documentation does not say can be done, as they have really done a fantastic job of dissecting the OS/firmware and hardware. I won't get into it on this thread or any other thread because there is something like 6000 posts in the thread, but the first page/post has been kept updated with latest information found.
 
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cellarnoise

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Mar 22, 2017
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Thanks for the reply and this thread.

I've looked these Brocade's up before based upon recommendation on this forum.

They look good, but burn more power than typical home stuff, though they are much more powerful than the typical cheap plug and play 1gb and probably 2.5 gbe non-configurable consumer stuff. They come with most needed? VLANs and other just over consumer stuff. Some with additional firewalls and many other configurable features! Just know that they take a lot of learning and deep configuring to manually plug all the internet holes and take more watts and possibly noise with small little fans.

I don't like noise or much power usage and I have been looking for better true programable switches for a few years. I don't really need more switch speed, though I would like to think I do... :)

Edit: I will add, what do you pros think the next considerable less than enterprise switches will be after the COVID chip shortage eases up? I think we will see a big leap forward in L3 or less low power consumer switches in a few months I hope? With much less power useage and more features based on chips on much smaller nodes than before. COVID has held up some much for coming up on 2 years now.

For my home office, I think I would like at least 2 ports of 10 gig and another 10 or so that can do 5 gig, at under 10 watts before I change. I am a small timer for sure. I would like to define my connection to the world and even divide my inside world between wired and wireless users. Without needing to learn a network gear language! :)

Each use case should be a lead in to helping with recommended switches...
 
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thecoolnessrune

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Jun 8, 2005
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You also have to really sit down and consider what it is you want to accomplish in a home.

For some, it’s about using it to train. In which case you’ll probably want Cisco gear because if you’re going for most bang for your time, chances are you’re encountering Cisco gear in the Enterprise.

Is it for home lab? Well remember a home lab isn’t really that *busy* most of the time. Are the switches again for training? Buy appropriately, otherwise, you prob ably don’t need that much.

Unless you’re doing netflows, analytics, L3 Services that would overpower a basic home router, etc, modern SOHO switches are great. We’ve long passed the era where even the most basic switches can’t do line rate L2 switching on all ports.

Like a lot of systems nowadays, we’re also dealing with increasing migration to Software Subscription models. So it really pays to dig into what you’re wanting to buy used and understand that a lot of higher end features are simply gated out of aftermarket equipment. We’re pretty far passed the days when you could use a key generator to give your old ASA 5505 unlimited clients. If you want to buy used, you need to really do your homework on what features are locked to the model, and what features are locked to SaaS subscription.

But modern SOHO switches from the likes of Netgear and similar can suffice for the vast majority of needs in that space.

Lastly, if this is for business, don’t discount software maintenance. Yes, there are companies that completely throw this to the wind (cheaper is better), but in most respectable orgs concerned with compliance to maintain, “price performance” means getting software updates and support, not just running on base licensing with expired support into perpetuity.
 

Fallen Kell

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Oct 9, 1999
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I don't think you will ever see L3 switches in the consumer environment. Mainly because it requires actual knowledge and configuration on the home user's part. As such, the OEMs will keep those features in the enterprise/office gear, as the consumers who have the knowledge already purchase that equipment when they know they need the features.

What I really wish to see in the consumer market would be at a minimum adoption of full 10Gbase-T switches. But I don't see that happening as the big OEMs have been investing in NBase-T network chips (which wouldn't be bad IF those chips supported speeds of 10gbe, but almost all of them only go to 5gbe). I mean, how hard is it to move to a standard that has been out for 15 YEARS now? But again, we won't see it.

I mean, state of the art is now 400gbe, and home users are still at 1gbe! Yes, I understand that your connection to the internet is barely 1gbe for those lucky enough to be serviced by a "high speed" ISP. However, this is all a chicken/egg issue. ISPs don't provide higher speed because they know the home equipment doesn't support it, and home users don't ask/demand higher speed because their equipment can't take advantage of it. So as a result, network speeds have been stagnant in the home use scenario for 20 years.
 
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thecoolnessrune

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Port / Power density is still too much of a problem on 10Gbase-T gear. A 2, 10Gbase-T ports alone take as much power as a whole 8 port Gigabit switch under full load. For customers in SOHO who are often buying small, tabletop, fanless switches, 10Gbase-T is out of reach.
 

Fallen Kell

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Oct 9, 1999
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Yeah, that is probably still a little bit a part of why we havn't seen 10Gbase-T, but modern implementation of the various controller chips even on much older manufacturing nodes (28nm) has brought power per port down to 1.5-2W, which is 1/2 the amount of power requirements from the first couple generations of gear. I don't see why a switch that needs 100-200W could not be created to support 5-8 ports now. Heck look at some of the older wifi routers that used 160W to know that you can power/cool such a device, and combine it with newer wifi chips and CPUs, you can easily squeeze in the extra 15W that the 10Gbase-T ports require and still not draw more than those older wifi routers did in the past (yes, it might require a beefier CPU as well since in these wifi routers, it uses the CPU to process the networking packets, so maybe that is why they don't do it, as on the enterprise gear, all that is done via hardware ASICs).
 

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