Switch choices....pros/cons of an Enterprise switch

reflection

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The topic of POE switch comes up quite often. There are lots of considerations if you are thinking about an Enterprise switch. Some are positive and some are negative. Here are my thoughts before you choose to go with an Enterprise switch:

Cons:
  • usually louder. There are multiple variable speed cooling fans. Not good for placing in a living space. (there are fanless versions that are silent)
  • much more expensive if purchased new ($2000-$15000+ depending on the model and license level). Obviously, there is no need to purchase new.
  • higher learning curve. Takes more effort to learn how to configure it.
  • consumes more power. This is important since it will be running 24/7. Check the data sheet and compare.
  • lifetime warranty does not apply to second owner.
  • usually larger. Rack mount versions are usually deeper than consumer switches.

Pros:
  • relatively cheap on the used market. Usually cheaper than a new consumer switch with the same number of ports and features.
  • more reliable. Will probably outlast a consumer switch. MTBF numbers are usually in the hundred thousand hours. Consumer switches usually don't publish MTBF numbers.
  • meets all the compliance certs for safety, EMI, EMC. You should not have to worry about it overheating and catching on fire or interfering with other equipment.
  • more features (but most users won't need all these features).
  • more security features (that can be important)
  • more available POE power budget and more reliable POE. It's not just passive POE that some basic consumer switches provide. Enterprise switches negotiate with the device for how much power is required.
  • if you have the funds to buy new, they do come with a lifetime warranty.

The biggest Con that most users will care about is the learning curve. Enterprise switches all have Web UI's, so that helps but the Web UI is limited to basic things like configuring VLANs. Enterprise switches are not for everyone. If you don't care about power consumption and noise and just want to do VLANs, than a used Enterprise switch is a valid option.
 
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SouthernYankee

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The biggest con is that you have to run the wires to one place. Also that a switch failure kills the complete system.
 

reflection

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The biggest con is that you have to run the wires to one place. Also that a switch failure kills the complete system.
Having a single switch design is a different discussion. Enterprise switches come in all sizes from embedded form factors to half rack chassis. I have an 8-port fanless compact Cisco POE switch in my office. Just because you are using an enterprise switch doesn't mean you necessarily have only one.
 
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Vinci

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The biggest con is that you have to run the wires to one place. Also that a switch failure kills the complete system.
You are correct that it becomes a single point of failure, but an enterprise switch is an enormous step up in reliability over anything consumer-level. I would easily put a single Cisco switch over a bunch of Netgear/TP-Link/etc switches. Enterprise switches have active cooling, beefy power supplies, and are generally built to a much higher standard. I have switches in production today that have been in continuous service for 12+ years. That's including small 24/48-port switches, some of which have never run in air conditioning... in Florida.
 
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