Review: Cisco né Linksys Managed Switch SRW2008

For some time, my home net­work has been suck­ing and with that suck­ing, has been real­ly hard to diag­nose.  I final­ly (this week­end) fig­ured out it was the Linksys né Cis­co 8 port giga­bit switch; the SRW2008 that I had bought to orga­nize my net­work and facil­i­tate jum­bo pack­ets.  And while I will write a review of the new switch, I must state cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly here that I was nev­er hap­py with the old switch — even before it start­ed cor­rupt­ing pack­ets.

The SRW2008’s first sin was that it would only work with IE on Win­dows.  There was some sort of shell inter­face on it, but it could not con­trol the major impor­tant func­tions of the switch.  Along with this minor nui­sance, the switch was incred­i­bly slow to boot (over a minute before pass­ing pack­ets), dif­fi­cult to con­fig­ure (it would blat errors in the mid­dle of it’s HTML inter­face with­out explain­ing them — and basi­cal­ly fail), and it’s firmware (as flawed as it was) was no longer, it seems, being updat­ed by Cis­co (which bought Linksys).

Of course, the largest flaw was that it was silent­ly cor­rupt­ing pack­ets and mak­ing my net­work unbear­ably slow.  Trash­bin.

It should be said that it seems Cis­co (et. al.) seem to be more inter­est­ed in sub­tract­ing fea­tures from their prod­ucts for mar­ket­ing rea­sons rather than pro­vid­ing the fea­tures that the hard­ware able to deliv­er.  A case in point (as I dis­cov­ered research­ing my new switch pur­chase) is that Cis­co (and seem­ing­ly at least HP and DLink) have “invent­ed” the new switch cat­e­go­ry they call “smart.”

A man­aged switch is dif­fer­ent from an “unman­aged” switch by the fact that it has an inter­face that allows it’s para­me­ters to be con­fig­ured in var­i­ous ways.  Unman­aged switch­es can sup­port all man­ner of things that they can auto­con­fig­ure (some now even sup­port jum­bo frames), but to make use of VLANs, one requires at least a man­aged switch.

A “smart” switch, seem­ing­ly, accord­ing to Cis­co, is a man­aged switch that can a) only be con­fig­ured by its we inter­face; and b) does not sup­port jum­bo frames.  There may be oth­er fea­tures that mar­ket­ing sub­tract­ed, but it’s hard to tell.  Sup­port for more advanced fea­tures may be beyond the fee­ble hard­ware.

Part B there is a bit of a shock, how­ev­er.  Switch­es have fair­ly large buffers for each port.  Jum­bo frames don’t even real­ly increase the buffer need (at a cer­tain speed, the same num­ber of bytes go out on the wire).  It’s also telling that “smart” switch­es from HP, DLink and Cis­co all share this short­com­ing.

So a “smart” switch is a switch that can enforce VLAN sep­a­ra­tion of devices at the edge of a cor­po­rate net­work but can­not han­dle the “stress” of jum­bo frames between bunch­es of NAS devices and the servers that con­sume them.  A smart switch can be slight­ly dis­count­ed with­out eat­ing the prof­it from oth­er switch sales.

Cis­co has had quite a few knocks to it’s rep­u­ta­tion this year and the likes of Net­gear, tp-link and ASUS are snap­ping at it’s switch-heals…

(In case you didn’t get it: don’t buy this switch or it’s replace­ment or smart switch­es from Cis­co, HP or DLink.  Stay tuned for anoth­er review of the Net­gear GS716Tv2.)

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4 Responses to Review: Cisco né Linksys Managed Switch SRW2008

  1. Pingback: Review: Netgear Gigabit Ethernet Switch: GS716Tv2 | Random Scribblings ...

  2. Parkland Homes says:

    Nor­mal­ly I dоn’t read arti­cle on blogs, how­ev­er I wish to say that this write-up very com­pelled me to check out and do it! Your writ­ing style has been amazed me. Thank you, very nice arti­cle.

    • dgilbert says:

      Nor­mal­ly, I’d think this com­ment is spam, but I can’t see any links or ref­er­ences in it. Sigh. We’ll see if he’s just try­ing to get whitelist­ed (it’d be a first)…

  3. Great Info!! Thanks for shar­ing this Cis­co switch srw2008. I have got bet­ter knowl­edge for this post.

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