Continuing the year-end series I started a few days ago, I'm going to detail some of the networking and infrastructure components of my lab, with special emphasis on what I rely on day after day.
I've been reviewing Dell's PowerConnect switching line since its inception a few years ago, and have yet to be disappointed with one of their switches. They're not top-end Cisco gear, but they also don't carry top-end prices, and that means quite a lot in both lab and SMB infrastructures. Make no mistake, there's some big Cisco iron in the lab as well, including a 6509, and a 4506, switch. Those switches are used in production as well as forming the baseline for all switch testing. However, as part of my testing of the newest PowerConnect, the 6248 (look for the review in an upcoming InfoWorld issue), I pulled the 6509 out of the core, replacing it with the 6248. The lab network is fully L3 switched, so this put the full weight of the lab through the new Dell L3 switch, and I have yet to pull it out. I might even leave it in place for awhile. Since I did this a month or so ago, the new core has switched petabytes of data without missing a beat. The long-term testing I've been doing with older PowerConnect switches has also gone well -- I haven't had a single hardware problem with any of those switches to date, from the 6024 to the 3424P that runs PoE to all the phones.
The configuration file syntax has changed significantly with the 6248 vs its' predecessor, the 6024. Gone are the scattered commands and repetitive port configurations, and in their place is more in line with true Cisco IOS configs, with each port granted a separate place in the config for individual parameters. It's much, much better.
The Cisco gear hasn't had an easy life, like most of the lab gear, but lives up to Cisco's reputation for reliable, dependable, high-performance switching products. As a general rule of thumb, you can't go wrong buying Cisco switches -- even though you might spend a bit too much. Both the Cisco and Dell switches coexist peacefully, with PAgP aggregate links and 802.1q trunking. No muss, no fuss, it just works.
There isn't a significant WiFi implementation in the lab, just a few Apple Airport Extremes and actually a few Linksys 802.11G units. They work well and are largely set-and-forget.