Switches – Don’t over-do it!

Old 6 Comments on Switches – Don’t over-do it! 10

Unless you’re in the real enterprise world, you don’t need Cisco switching. I know that statement will bring the wrath of enterprise switching lovers, “how DARE you say that we don’t need our reliable Cisco switches!”. In all seriousness though, unless you have a wired network of hundreds or thousands of users, why do you need enterprise level switching ?

I’ve seen Cisco Catalyst switches in the most ridiculous of places. In fact, literally just last week, I saw a Cisco Catalyst 2960 deployed in an office with 8 computers, 1 server, 1 wireless access point and 1 hardware firewall. Seriously ? Why would that even be remotely necessary ?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for no-name brands with un-manageable platforms. But there are so many switches out there (yes, even Cisco manufactures them) that are built for smaller organizations, that offer QoS (Quality of Service) and have management interfaces where you can manipulate features.

From my interactions with other professional technologists, switching seems to be something that not many people understand is scalable. It’s not a choice that pegs you between either a Yugo or a Mercedes. I know we all love the best of the best, and I know we prefer to work with top of the line equipment that will continue to function even if it’s being subjected to a nuclear war. But we also need to remember, we’re responsible for coming up with solutions that fit the needs of the environment we’re working with. Barring some very few select situations, there is no justifiable reason why a small office with less than 10 employees would ever require an enterprise grade network switch like the Catalyst 2960. Remember, keep it scaled appropriately.


Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

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  1. Tux June 17, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Cisco pdts are quite expensive for SMEs but if I got the money & thinking of future expansion, why not!

    • Martin Lehner June 20, 2014 at 12:41 am

      What kind of future expansion though ? Do you NEED that Cisco enterprise solution, or will something else (even still from Cisco) do the job ?

  2. Nicholas Fusco June 20, 2014 at 9:52 am

    I bought a Cisco SG-300-10p switch for my home, for the use of LACP and to setup some VLANs, and even that was overkill, but the SG200-8 switch looked like garbage (its certainly better than it used to be though, I guess) and i’ve heard bad things about the cheap Netgear small managed/smart switches. It’s hard to get what you want at a decent price and still have reliability.

    • Martin Lehner June 20, 2014 at 11:23 pm

      I’ve had good experience with the SG200-8, and it’s non-gigabit brother. I will agree with you, I’m not a fan of Netgear-anything. I personally like Cisco’s Small Business Smart Switch line of products. You get Cisco quality in a package more geared towards smaller organizations.

  3. Danny June 21, 2014 at 8:18 am

    I disagree. At home I have a Cisco Router & Switch… 48 port switch…. With only about 4 computers in my home…

    Why do I do it? Well to have IOS and learn every aspect of it 😀

    • Martin Lehner June 21, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      I don’t think you’re disagreeing with me per se, as I don’t disagree with you. In your situation, you’re buying something for yourself in order to learn the platform. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and it makes complete sense. My post is about recommending solutions to clients, and potentially ‘over-engineering’ something that isn’t required. In some cases, true enterprise-grade switching may be required even in a smaller setting. It’s all about assessing the needs appropriately and not just defaulting to the ‘high end’ every time.

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