Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why Cisco? Part II HP Procurve Alternative to Cisco Switches

I just discussed why I like Fortinet FortiGate firewalls over the Cisco PIX or ASA. Now, I thought I would spend some time discussing HP Procurve switches.

Like I said in my previous post, I don't have anything against Cisco. I still manage a bunch of Cisco routers. I was Cisco certified (CCNA & CCNP, I let them expire). I think Cisco has a great product line and there is no doubt they are the leader when it comes to networking gear.

However, for the last 4 years, I have been managing and purchasing HP Procurve switches and I must say, I like them a lot.

Like the Fortinet FortiGate, HP Procurve switches are easy to configure/manage. For configuration, they have a CLI, a DOS-type menu, and a web interface. I personally like the CLI and menu system, but the web interface is great also.

The HP Procurve line also has some of the cheapest per-port prices on managed switches I have seen. They have great modular switches and the 5400 series has models with gigabit and POE-capability on every port.

The icing on the cake though is the lifetime warranty. I know it is hard to believe, but it is true. As long as you own the device, HP will send you replacements for hardware failure. We had some 8-10 year old Procurve switches at the City of Provo (we replaced most of them eventually in order to get higher throughput) and any time a module or port went out (not very often) Procurve sent a replacement.

To be fair, Cisco might offer some advanced features in their switch lineup that the Procurve cannot compete with. Also, there is some advanced licensing that you need to purchase on some of the Procurves to unlock some of the more advanced routing capabilities. However, for the most part I think the Procurve is an alternative to Cisco switches.

What types of switches do you use? Do you like them? Why or why not? What are some features that Cisco offers in their switch lineup that I should check out?

1 comment:

  1. Like you I also have nothing against Cisco... When it comes to switching, firewalls, and VPN there are so many more products out there that are easier to configure, maintain, Cost much less, and work just as well if not better. Over the last couple of years I’ve purchased and worked with Cisco, HP Procurve, and Extreme Networks switches. My experience on the firewall/VPN side has been with Cisco, Nokia based Checkpoint, and Juniper Networks products.
    Out of the switching products I prefer the Extreme Networks Black Diamond and Summit line. Just like Cisco they are feature rich and dependable but one big thing is they cost about half the price of Cisco which adds up to big $$$ over time. Plus I think the Extreme Networks CLI commands are much easier to work with and make much more sense. For instance when you want to create and configure a VLAN you type “Create VLAN BLUE” and to add ports “Configure BLUE add port 1:1-1:48 untagged” all from the admin interface. No going into privilege mode, then global config mode, then interface mode, then switchport mode access or trunking. And to disable port 12 in slot 1 it’s “Disable port 1:12” that’s it. None of this shutdown or no shutdown crap after you go three levels deep to get to the interface you want to disable. As far as performance goes, they use none blocking technology which means if you buy a 48 port Gig switch you get 48 Gigs worth of throughput. But you are right when it comes to HP, no one can beat their warranty and price per port.
    On the firewall and VPN side I prefer Juniper products over Cisco and Nokia because they’re easier to configure and maintain plus their SSL VPN devices rocks compared to both of them. Let’s just say no more headaches! It took some getting used to using the Web interface for configuring them as oppose to the IOS CLI command way but it’s still faster believe it or not.
    It’s hard to tell diehard Cisco engineers there are alternative products out there that are equal to or better then Cisco due to what I call the “Cisco tunnel vision” they have or lack of experience with trying other vendor’s products. I should know I use to be one of them. Fortunately my eyes were opened when I was working for a smaller company that didn’t want to spend all that money to upgrade their infrastructure so they tasked me with finding alternatives and I must say I thank them for that not only because it added experience to my repertoire but because it broke me out from the tunnel vision I once had.