InfoWorld review: Dell PowerConnect 8024F hits 10G paydirt
Dell's 24-port 10G switch packs a lot of bandwidth into its 1U form factor and backs it up with redundant power supplies and full Layer-3 switching -- at less than $500 per portFollow @pvenezia
The rest of the raw specs on the 8024F are about what you might figure for a 10G switch: LACP link aggregation of up to eight ports; support for 4,000 VLANs and 32,000 MAC addresses; Auto-MDI/MDIX; port- and flow-based QoS; Layer 2, 3, and 4 flow-based policies with metering; 802.1x; SNMP; OSPF; IGMPv2; VRRP; IPv6; sFlow; LLDP; and the rest of the usual suspects. There's also a feature called iSCSI Optimization, which purports to boost iSCSI traffic flowing through the switch by assigning iSCSI traffic to a non-default queue for lower latency and higher prioritization.
It should also be noted that Dell itself gave the 8024F a vote of confidence by shipping it as the reference 10G switch for my review of the Dell EqualLogic PS6010XV 10G iSCSI array.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Learn how to avoid getting all tangled up in wiring problems. See "Sound wiring, sound network, sound mind." ]
Managed by Web or command line
The management of the 8024F is handled through a Web GUI or traditional command-line interface extremely similar -- but not quite identical -- to that of Cisco IOS in form and function, but not quite the same. This shortens the learning curve for Cisco veterans somewhat, but the slight functional disparities can be frustrating at times. For instance, "conf t" is the traditional command to enter configuration mode on Cisco IOS. On the PowerConnect, "conf" will do the trick, but if you reflexively type "conf t" you get an error.
Also, the configuration is not structured the same way. Interfaces that are left to their defaults do not appear in "show run" output, which just feels strange to an IOS expert. These are minor quibbles, but when you're bustling through a switch configuration trying to find and fix a problem, it can get annoying.
The Web interface is likely to be the main configuration point of the 8024F, and it drives fairly well. I've never liked GUI interfaces for routers, switches, or firewalls, but the PowerConnect Web GUI isn't bad. It's very Spartan and quick, which is far better than some overly busy Web 2.0-style interfaces. Everything you need to do is on a tree in a left-hand frame, and the remainder of the window is given over to whatever element you've selected. Making sweeping changes to large numbers of ports through the GUI can be tedious, but that can be achieved from the command line in a simpler fashion. For individual configuration tasks, the Web GUI is more than adequate.
One nice feature of the 8024F is an RJ-45 console port and a true out-of-band Ethernet management port on the rear of the device. Prior PowerConnect switches used DB9 serial ports for console access, but the 8024F can use a standard Cisco console cable. The out-of-band management port is also handy on a switch of this type since it might be used in places where accessing the management UIs via in-band addressing would be problematic.
Overall, the Dell PowerConnect 8024F is a high-powered switch without the high-powered price, relative to others on the market. It offers plenty of enterprise features, but doesn't include the wealth of services found in switches costing two or three times more. However, there are many places where this switch could be an extremely powerful and cost-effective method of bringing 10G into the mix.
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