Recently Kien Tran has been working on trying to stage, test and burn in new gear for the new building. One of the core features of the new facility is that we’re upgrading key components to run 10GigE. Devices that need this kind of connectivity include network storage, and potentially our high end edit machines which need to have big fat pipes to the data in the data center.
Kien and I have debated and debated hardware, looking for big bang for the buck – not only for ourselves, but also for YOU guys. Often we’ll purchase gear that is actually a little cheaper or different than we would normally get for ourselves, because we want it to serve a dual purpose of being able to review, test and recommend it for others. After all, we know that a lot of people follow our lead on things.
So after much debate, I just purchased two ZyXEL XGS1910-48is switches for our network. These switches go for around $1,000 each, and they offer 44 GigE ports + 4 10GigE capable SFP ports.
This is actually a VERY risky move, for several reasons:
- ZyXEL has almost no information available about how these switches work. The only thing is the online manual.
- There are absolutely no reviews to be found anywhere online, there isn’t a single screen shot anywhere of their Web based management interface. I am always highly suspect of technology products with no reviews. You have to ask yourself, why don’t they make loaner units available to Press for independent evaluation of their claims?
- I’ve reached out to the ZyXEL PR team multiple times with ZERO response. (Feel free to let them know about us: Twitter, Google+, Facebook.) Meaning they don’t pay attention to Press, so if we run into any problems, we’re on our own. That wouldn’t be so bad if others had blazed the trail before us – but it’s doubly bad in this case. If these don’t work as advertised, I shall be very put out…
At any rate, this switch is supposed to do several things that we’ll be implementing (other than just fast data):
- sFlow monitoring – we should be able to somehow tap into the live flow of data through this switch to get reporting about who, what, and when is using up bandwidth. We’re going to need to find a sFlow monitoring application that we’ll run on another server in the data center to watch the traffic flow. And I want Kien to put up a real time bandwidth flow monitor on the rack or the wall so we can all see it at all times. For that we’ll likely have to use something like Scrutinizer NetFlow and sFlow monitor, or Paessler’s PRTG Network Monitor. If anyone has other suggestions, please Tweet them at me!
- Web Based Management – unlike Cisco switches this ZyXEL should allow for web-based interface management. Meaning we can log in using a web browser to control the device with a graphical user interface, as opposed to command line over an RS-232 port or something. The problem is, they claim on the website that you need Internet Explorer or Firefox to use the interface?!? IE? Really??? We’ll see if it works with Chrome or Safari, or if its a piece of junk interface.
- VLANS For Everyone – the switch is supposed to allow us to set up a guest VLAN, which would keep all of our guest users out of our internal network, as well as VLANs for voice, data, etc. This will allow us to segment our traffic. For example, our badge reader system could have its own VLAN so its traffic doesn’t mix with our normal network traffic.
So, we’re taking the risk on this one to find out if these switches will work or not. After we get them working and have some experience with them, we’ll share that info.
By the way, we’re a little overworked right now, so if there are any local Dallas network wizards who would like to volunteer some time to help Kien and I get everything set up and AWESOME, please contact me and let us know! We could sure use some help getting everything set up configured, etc. Lots of work to be done in the new building!!!
Finally, I started a discussion about these switches on the new Forums here. Feel free to comment.