Linksys has traditionally offered a wide range of budget-priced unmanaged switches for small businesses, but its expanding range of products shows how seriously it takes the managed switch market. The latest to join this burgeoning family is the SRW2008MP, which delivers an octet of fixed Gigabit ports and full browser-based management capabilities. However, this switch goes much further, as all fixed ports are 802.3af PoE compliant and each delivers the full 15.4W of power.
At first, we were impressed with this compact box, as you need a decent-sized power supply to be able to deliver full power on all ports, but Linksys has been a bit crafty as the switch doesn’t have an internal unit. Instead, it uses an enormous external supply that’s nigh on half the size of the switch. The disadvantage of this approach is that although the switch can be rack mounted, you’ll have to find extra space for the supply. However, this has allowed Linksys to reduce internal cooling to a single fan, which results in low operational noise levels.
Along with the fixed Gigabit ports, you get a couple of mini-GBIC slots, and Linksys offers 1000BaseT copper SFP modules and SX or LH modules for long-distance uplinks over fibre-optic cabling. These are the dual-personality variety, so using them will disable the corresponding fixed copper port.
For installation, you can access the switch’s CLI through a serial port connection. Although the interface is easy to use, all you can do is set up management access and security, modify basic port settings and update the firmware. For general management, you’ll need to use Linksys’ WebView browser interface, as this facilitates full access to all the switch’s features. The homepage provides a graphic of the switch, showing active ports along with maximum and consumed power. Being fully 802.3af compliant, the switch will only turn the juice on to ports that have a PoE device connected, and we tested this successfully with an Axis 211A IP camera.
The port management tab provides status tables for all ports, and from here you can access PoE settings. The table displayed shows which ports are supplying power, plus the allocation and consumption in milliWatts. You can also apply one of three power priorities to ensure critical devices are kept running if consumption exceeds the total available.
The switch provides plenty of other features, although the supplied manual offers no more than a list of simplistic descriptions for each function. The WebView online help is a slight improvement, but the general lack of useful information means many features may well lie idle. This is a pity, since the security facilities are extensive, and include access control lists based on IP and MAC addresses, plus support for RADIUS, TACACS+ and 802.1x port authentication. Linksys has targeted the VoIP market too, so you’ll find extensive QoS options for prioritising voice traffic.
The sheer range of features packed into the SRW2008MP makes it good value for small businesses that need a low-cost combination of Gigabit Ethernet and full PoE, but beware the huge power supply and Linksys’ poor documentation.
This Review appeared in the July, 2007 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing
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