Technology / 

02 Jun 2008

Cheap Gigabit Switches

One thing just leads to another around here. My search for a decent VoIP ATA (basically, an Ethernet to analog telephone interface box) led me to discover that I’m all out of ports on my current Ethernet switch that holds together my home-office network. Oops. Guess this VoIP project just got a little bigger.

It’s been a while since I’ve bought much home networking gear, and I was impressed when I fired up NewEgg to discover how far prices on Gigabit switches have fallen. But looking at the specs on them convinced me that not all are made equal – and some of them seem downright trashy. I’ve done battle in the past with crummy, low-quality “consumer” networking gear in the past, and swore never to buy hardware purely (or even mostly) based on price again.

My absolute requirements are:

The major ‘nice to haves’ in a new switch are:

My requirements aren’t that stringent – pretty much any run-of-the-mill 8-port switch satisfies them – so really it’s an exercise in balancing cost against which of the ‘nice to haves’ I can get.

Decisions, decisions. The J9029A is pretty tempting, but it’s leaning distinctly towards overkill for a home LAN. However, I really like the idea of being able to set up VLANs at some point in the future; say, to take all the VoIP devices and put them on a separate VLAN and subnet, and then put that whole subnet behind a separate NAT router and give it a separate internet-facing IP address. (Obviously this would cost money and require purchasing a second public IP from Comcast.) I’m not sure if this will ever be necessary, but it seems like SIP+NAT is just a bad combination, and the glacial pace of IPv6 means it’s a problem that’s not going to go away any time soon. Being able to just segment off all the telephone stuff from data (and maybe making SAN stuff separate from that) seems like a nice feature.

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