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We putting up a rack of 12 (maybe 24-30 later) servers (moving off AWS) and we have only a modest level of networking skill on our team (an out of date CCNA admin).

In looking at two possible switches, I wonder if there's a reason we'd go with the recommended FastIron enterprise level switch rather than the seemingly easier to configure DLink switch listed below.

D-Link DGS-1210-48 Web Smart 10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit Switch With 4 Combo SFP Slots

  vs.

FastIron GS 648P

The D-Link switch appears to have all of the necessary features to support our need (VLAN support, trunking, the basics), and it has a remote management web-based UI, where the FastIron, I believe, only has console access (we don't have a KVM as all the servers & firewall also have an IP based management console).

Any reason to fear going with the D-Link option in this case?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

It really depends on your network requirements and load. For example, for my most recent project I selected expensive, high-end switches because our SAN requires jumbo frames, flow-control, and large packet buffers. Most low-end switches can't provide all of those features or not all at once.

Many low-end switches do not have adequate backplane speeds, so you cannot make full use of each port in both directions at once.

Many low-end switches are not manufactured as robustly (cheap fans, cheap power supplies, etc.) so they are, in general, more likely to fail.

So... Do you need to be able to read/write at Gb speeds on a majority of the ports at once? Do you have specialized network requirements? Is reliability extremely important? If so, then you want the FastIron. If not, the D-Link will probably be fine for a while.

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Great point on the backplain, we're running a hadoop cluster, so transfering gigabits at a time between boxes is a major desire. But the specs say that it's got a 96GBit backplain, meaning full duplex at 1Gbit, so I presume it's ok. The spec sheets seem to just show that most of the differences are things we won't use, except that we can trunk fewer ports together on the Dlink –  davidparks21 Mar 7 '13 at 7:50
    
It may be outside of your budget but since you're running hadoop what about using dedicated fiber optic connectivity for that? Separate from the ethernet network. –  aseq Mar 7 '13 at 20:20
    
I calculated that the disks aren't likely to saturate the 1Gbit copper port we've got it wired with now, so I'm not overly concerned about a single being underutilized. We do have the option of aggregating 2 nics if we really want to beef up throughput. –  davidparks21 Mar 17 '13 at 13:26
    
Not sure this answer has any merit. I use a low end netgear switch in the rack - that is 48x1gbit port, 4x10gbit SFP+ and all the features you mentioned. Budget was ridiculously low compared to stuff like cisco. THere is a miggle ground here. –  TomTom Sep 22 '13 at 7:31

This is not easy to answer. It depends on your budget and how critical it is to be online 24/7.

If your budget is very limited but still you still have strict uptime requirements (somewhat mutually exclusive, you get what you pay for) you could get two of the cheaper switches (and 2 firewalls (could be linux servers) etc.) and implement a load balancing solution using something like haproxy.

On the other hand it pays off to go with sufficiently robust hardware from the start. Cisco switches will just work for decades, can be expanded, have redundancy etc.

If you go with the cheap switch don't expect it to do much more with it than vlans (personally I'd avoid vlans if at all possible). Cheap means it's not gonna be very good at much beyond being a plain switch. With regards to cheap perhaps also take a look at dell switches.

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