HP ProCurve Switch 2610-48 review

13 Jun 2008

A fine choice for extending secure network services to mobile users with a good range of access controls and switch management facilities

Price when reviewed: 
436(£512 inc VAT)
5

Prices per port for Gigabit Ethernet are still dropping steadily but many businesses are quite happy with Fast Ethernet at the edge of their networks and don't feel the need for more speed. The latest ProCurve Switch 2610 family from HP targets these very users but makes a more tempting proposition as the switches come with enhanced access controls, traffic management and a handy lifetime warranty as well.

HP aims to score in the features department to increase the 2610's appeal to mid sized businesses looking to consolidate and secure services at the network edge. Along with port and protocol based VLANs the 2610-48 on review supports 802.1p prioritisation where you can tag traffic for one of four queues which use weighted round robin priority algorithms. For QoS you can create up to 120 rules for further prioritising traffic using criteria such as the source and destination IP address, ToS, DiffServ and VLAN IDs.

The switch is designed to deliver access controls to the network edge and targets a range of applications such as providing secure wireless guest access. You have options for Web and MAC authentication in conjunction with RADIUS servers. For web based authentication when a user connects to a port that has this enabled and loads a web browser they will be presented with a login screen. Their details are passed to the RADIUS server and if accepted can join a specific port-based VLAN.

The same applies to MAC authentication as the switch will block traffic until the RADIUS server has accepted the user's credentials. You can also configure features such as URL redirects allowing users to be passed to a specific web page after they've been allowed access. Note that you cannot have concurrent Web and MAC authentication active on the same port

For installation you can use a serial port connection but the switch's management VLAN does default to DHCP so you can avoid this altogether. The switch comes with remote browser access and the interface is common to all managed HP switches. A comprehensive alert log offers plenty of advice about network problems, the likely causes and suggestions for remedial action while above is a bar graph showing general port activity. However, it only provides access to a subset of switch commands and for the majority of access security and traffic management functions you'll need to use the CLI.

You also get a copy of HP's ProCurve Manager utility included which provides automatic device discovery and network mapping. It'll poll any SNMP enabled nodes such as workstations and servers and will advise if any are unreachable. It presents a general overview of the status of switches and end devices, general traffic measurements and a handy dashboard which gives a complete overview of general network traffic status. Windows Server 2008 users needn't apply as at the time of review this OS wasn't supported and the software refused to install on our test server. During testing we found the switch's cooling fan to be very unobtrusive but if you want total silence then go for the 2610-24 model as this is completely fan-less.

Typical competition to this switch comes from products such as 3Com's Switch 4200-50. It costs around £100 less but the stronger access controls and superior management tools make the ProCurve 2610-48 worth the extra outlay.