SMB Switching options - cheaper vs more expensive switches


I had a client ask me why I recommended HP Procurve switches (pricey) versus cheaper Netgear type switches.  I threw out the usual, warranty, command line, stacking speed agruments but that didn't really enlighten them.  I did a couple quick searches for comparisons but really didn't result in anything.  So my question is what is the real difference?  Horsepower?  Speed? OS coding?  Reliability?  I don't necessarily know so really just looking for some suggestions.  It could be any solution.

For discussion, our networks are usually 50-150 ports.
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You get what you pay .

This switch really stands up when a mix of  lower speed adapters used. Cheaper NetGear switches frequently run the  entire network at the speed of the slowest adapter. HP procurve makes sure that any two computers communicate at the maximum speed possible.

So unless client is not concerned about their network speed they will choose HP.

So button line :

Big advantage to this switch is the ability to accommodate gigabit connections at full gigabit speeds.
Daniel HelgenbergerCommented:
SMB's all want to expand, and you will sooner or later need these Netgear Switches gone for reasons below. Also, a backbone switch is one of most important things in a network. You do not want it to fail or be a bottleneck. Money spent here have a good ROI:

The topmost imported thinks about sitch performance is their backplane bandwidth, the FIFO latency and the throughput / forward rates.
If you compare for example the HP PC 2910al (one of the most competing products of HP I think as long as you do not need a modular system) and the top line Netgear GS752TXS, you will find not much diffence there; they even cost almost the same. You get what you pay for.

But, there are a lot of security features, a bigger ARP table and last but not least - I have yet to see a Netgear switch with a CLI. This makes no difference if you have only one or two. But, see above - you will most often by more switches in the future. And there you hit the wall with netgear; you cannot stack GS752TXS with bigger (modular) systems since it is already the top of the line.
Here's another argument to make - Diagnostics. A Netgear's diagnostics is extremely limited. The easy response to a lot of problems is to replace hardware and hope for the best. Going with HP/Cisco/Juniper you'll have much better diagnostics and manufacturer support for when issues arise. This argument is difficult to put a value to when a customer has never experienced a business-impacting issue that couldn't be troubleshot due to cheap equipment. This isn't all too different from selling insurance... no one wants to pay for it until something happens and you want insurance to pay out.
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ClearBlueTechnologiesAuthor Commented:
Interesting info. So basically if you are small and don't expect to grow, you could get away with it.  If you are larger, expect to grow or want more control over how data passes across your infrastructure you need to more enterprise grade switch?  I get the backplane, CLI, ability to grow within the product line...all valid points.  How do you test or know the lower switches are talking at the lowest speed vs the highest speed?  That is great information I am just curious how I would test that to make sure we are getting the best network speed?
ClearBlueTechnologiesAuthor Commented:
@Rauenpc -  great point!  We are building a lot of SMB Infrastructures now to support full VoIP systems as well and that try to make that point but the problem is that until they have a realtime app on the network they typically don't realize any issues on their network except Up/Down.
Although the diagnostics argument is similar to insurance policies, you could potentially use insurance as a comparison. The following is an unpaid argument by rauenpc... (geek, I know ;)

Business owners get all sorts of insurance policies. They cover the building, the employees, and the business as a whole against things like injuries, damage, and other forms of litigation. Do they expect those bad things to happen? Do they expect a work-related injury to turn into a legal battle for pain and suffering followed by a tornado that knocks over the building? Expect, no... but they recognize this as a possibility and consider the effects on the business.
Nowadays the network is just as important. No network in many businesses equals no business at all. No phones in many businesses equals no business at all. So if these little devices can make or break a business for a period of time, why go as cheap as possible with little to no support? Buying the better switch is somewhat like getting an insurance policy. Do we expect the network to fail? Expect, no... but we should recognize that as a possibility and consider the effects on the business.

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ClearBlueTechnologiesAuthor Commented:
All of the answered added value to the question.  Thanks for all your input!
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