Economical auto-sensing switch impresses

Economical auto-sensing switch impresses

It wasn't too long ago that only high-end switches had decent management features. But recently vendors have been introducing low-cost switches with management features that rival their high-cost-per-port brethren.

The Allied Telesyn AT-8126XL is a good example of an economical switch that still has SNMP management, a Web interface, and a good deal of flexibility. I found the AT-8126XL a snap to install and administer, and I would recommend it to IT shops that don't have their hearts set on a single vendor solution across the enterprise.

The AT-8126XL offers 24 autosensing 10/100 ports, as well as two option ports that allow for 100Base-T or 100Base-FX uplinks. Although it lacks high-end features such as RMON, the AT-8126XL's management features are adequate for most applications. In fact, the AT-8126XL is somewhat unique in that both its Web and Telnet/serial interfaces are very easy to use.

The AT-8126XL supports port-based virtual LANs (VLANs), but it does not support the 802.1Q standard for VLAN interoperability. It can pass on 802.1Q packets, so it can coexist on a VLAN-equipped network. Unfortunately, it does not support assigning multiple VLANs to one port, which limits its usefulness for some network functions, such as allowing multiple segments to access a single server while blocking cross-segment access.

The Web interface to the AT-8126XL is simple and easy to work with. Ports clearly show their status in a graphic that replicates the product's real-world faceplate, and it's easy to manually set ports to 10MB or 100MB and full or half duplex rather than allowing autodetect to take over. Refreshingly, the simplicity of the graphical interface is not simply hiding a complicated Telnet/serial interface.

The AT-8126XL's character-driven interface is similar to many others, but it offers the advantage of hot keys that allow working without worrying about VT100 arrow-key emulation or other hassles. Changing the switch's IP address and SNMP information is just as easy using Telnet as it is with the Web interface.

The AT-8126XL is a solid product from a company with a history of producing quality low-cost products. If it meets your needs, I highly recommend it.

The bottom line

Allied Telesyn AT-8126XL

Summary: A good choice for branch offices or other network regions that do not require high-end features such as RMON and 802.1Q VLAN support. For its price range, it has an excellent feature set. It's simple, reliable and has solid management tools.

Business Case: Not every network switch has to be a Cisco 8500. The AT-8126XL is very attractively priced and offers all the features that most midsize networks need.

Pros Low price

Good manageability

Easy-to-use Web interface

Easy-to-use Telnet/serial interface

Cons No RMON capabilities

Does not have full 802.1Q support

Does not support assigning multiple VLANs to one portCost: Available on application from Web site.

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