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Network Engineer at a government with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
The unique ring topology protocol and pricing makes this a unique solution worthy of consideration
Pros and Cons
  • "The unique ring topology is actually a handy innovation."
  • "The price is low compared to the competition."
  • "The training and resources for learning are lacking."

What is our primary use case?

I have been a network engineer since the mid-nineties. The company I am in now has19 buildings and 50 plus switches, all Extreme. We use lots of gen one and gen twos — either the X460s or X690s — using the SummitStack. That is our standard variant of the Extreme Networks.  

We do have a couple of old 460s and a couple of old 480s, but we use the SummitStack for those versions instead of the Black Diamond.  

What is most valuable?

I have been using ExtremeSwitching for so long that it is really natural for me. I just use them. I guess if I had to pick something I really like, it would maybe be the ease of using their protocol. They use ring topology protocol. Using that protocol is somewhat unique to Extreme. It is actually really handy.  

What needs improvement?

I think Extreme can learn a few things from Cisco's approach. That is not to say that trying to become Cisco would be an improvement for Extreme. It is just that they might acknowledge the differences in the direction the solutions have taken and maybe learn from what Cisco does right. They are different even though they set out to accomplish the same thing.  

To call Extreme wrong for their approach would be like telling people in Great Britain that their drivers are bad because they drive on the left side of the road. They have been driving on that side of the road and that's what they chose to do. They are not going to just go and change it one day so they all drive on the right side of the road. It would be a pretty big undertaking in adjusting to it. I do not think that is going to improve Extreme's product to try and imitate Cisco. Making that kind of a major change is not something you should do just to be like another product and it would not be a way to improve what you do.  

I would say that they could learn from what Cisco does right. Extreme needs to improve on their training. They have been working on it, but they do not really have enough training classes and learning resources for users at this point. When we first put ExtremeSwitches in, it was very complex. I think that might have been because no one had any real experience with the product and people were more likely to be familiar with Cisco if they did have experience. The training was not up to speed.  

Extreme aught to take that into account and at least offer more resources to learn the products. If engineers are coming from the Cisco world, it is really like pulling your mind through the looking glass or driving on the other side of the road. It is just a totally different way of thinking. Cisco had a 12-year head start on the market. More people see switching from a Cisco perspective.  

Other than offering training, they are getting better. When I have a problem, I can at least look up a solution online. But with Extreme Switches, if you look online, you are just not going to get as much information and options as you do with a search for problems on Cisco. Everybody and their brother could tell you stuff about Cisco because they are familiar with it.  

In some way, it is a benefit to have less information. When there is not as much stuff out there, then you have less stuff to sort through. With Cisco there is so much you might have to determine where the reliable resources are. With Extreme the resources are more limited but sometimes that means that you will not get the answer you are looking for.  

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using ExtremeSwitching for at least eight years.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

After the first year where we were having some stability issues, things came around. Now we are good for stability. If any part of what we have breaks, Extreme will just replace it.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Extreme is quite scalable. We have a lot of buildings (19) a lot of switches (50+), and multiple fiber rings. I do not think we are limited in our ability to grow from that at all.  

Right now, there are only two of us doing the maintenance. Before I got sick earlier in the year, there was only one person on the maintenance. So now it is two people on the team, but working with Extreme is not the only thing that we do. We share the responsibility.  

I have no idea how we compare in size to other similar companies. We have 550 employees, and we are a 24/7 shop, like police and fire — or maybe public works. We have to be ready when we are needed.  

How are customer service and technical support?

Tech support, in my case, refers more to training than calling in tickets. When Extreme bought Enterasys, they had a bit of a rocky start with that merger. But Extreme's tech support has been okay. We have got a better integration partner now and that helps.  

When we first bought the Extreme product, they had all of two classes. That is it. They were both online. The two of the courses put together were only a week long. That was all the training you could possibly get for Extreme Network Switches at the time.  

Think of that compared to the kind of training and support you can get from HP and Cisco on their equipment before you go to implement their products. Extreme's programs did not even come close to covering everything. There were parts of the product, like their management platform, that they did not even mention even though it is a valuable part of the system.  

They have been improving on their training, but I do not know how far they have taken it at this point.  

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have worked with both Cisco and Extreme at different times. It is almost like Alice in the Looking Glass when you compare Extreme to Cisco. Cisco uses iOS. Extreme uses xOS. These two solutions are so different. With Cisco, you configure by port — you assign everything to a port. With Extreme, you assign everything — all the ports — to a VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network). It is almost like they work in the opposite way of each other. You have to get used to adopting the mindset of the solution you are using and just do it their way.  

Extreme hardware is also less expensive than the Cisco equipment. That is a biggie in making the comparison.  

How was the initial setup?

I think the initial setup was complex. Really it was extremely complex.  

We did an RFP (Request for Proposal) and a vendor came in to put the product in. One of the problems we had that we obviously could not have known at the time was that the vendor did not necessarily know enough about how Extreme worked. It was a systems engineer from Extreme that implemented the RFP and even he did not know the product well. Then he left Extreme to go to another company. We were left holding the bag.  

For the first year, there were some glitches and gotchas that we kept running into. But after that year — and after we switched integrators — then we were in much better shape.  

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

All I can say about Extreme pricing is that it is much less expensive than Cisco and more expensive than HP. It is less expensive than Tesco by a mile. On pricing, it is going to beat most of the major competition.  

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

The products we buy are influenced by our company's business model. Everything we want to implement that is over 30-grand, we have to do an RFP for. So a lot of times to get under that threshold, we go with the lowest possible bidder just to get things done. We have bought stuff that I have never even seen before. I had never even heard of Tegile Arrays until we bought their products. I had never even heard of Extreme Networks until we bought their products either.  

What other advice do I have?

Advice that I would give to people considering switches is that I think Extreme products are pretty feature-rich and they are definitely worth considering alongside the competition. They just have to be aware they are not going to be working like they would with Cisco, which means fewer resources and potentially fewer candidates to work with the solution as engineers.  

On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate ExtremeSwitching as an eight-out-of-ten.  

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Network Administrator at a healthcare company with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 5
Stable, easy to set up, and the technical support is good
Pros and Cons
  • "This is a very reliable solution."
  • "I would like to see some kind of packet tracer where people can study how the switch is operating."

What is our primary use case?

We are in the healthcare industry. Most of our switches are modular because we need a lot of ports in one location.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is reliability.

What needs improvement?

The pricing could be improved.

I would like to see some kind of packet tracer where people can study how the switch is operating.

White box switching support is something that I would like to see in the future.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with HPE ProCurve for at least 17 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This is a very reliable solution. In the 17 years that I have been using this product, I have had two power supply failures. However, these did not result in downtime because each switch has at least two power supplies. I was never left without the switch working due to a hardware failure.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have more than 1,000 users in total but on a daily basis, there are 600 to 700 users in two locations.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support from HP is very good. The last time I had a question, not a repair, but just a question of any kind was perhaps 10 years ago. I normally have a good recovery plan in advance of making any changes, which means that I don't have to bother the HP help desk with frivolous questions.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Prior to this solution, I was working with Cisco switches, which we still have a lot of. We have physical network layers and for some purposes, the Cisco switches are very good. My preference, however, is ProCurve.

I have experience with switches from Dell. They lack some features but they are much cheaper than HPE.

How was the initial setup?

I find the initial setup to be easy and straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

I perform the implementation, deployment, and maintenance. If I need to clear up the fiber channel, a transceiver, or something else, then I do it myself. If we need to connect and patch one of the switches then I just configure a port, send an email, and the local staff can do the patching.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

This is an expensive switch.

What other advice do I have?

My advice to anybody who is implementing this solution is to plan well. Most of the reason for error is poor planning. Be sure to ask your vendor questions because there are no dumb questions. Rather, silly mistakes happen when people implement without a full understanding.

This is a good product but there is always room for improvement in these kinds of devices.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Network Infrastructure Administrator at PCC Intermodal
Real User
Easy to set up and configure with excellent pricing
Pros and Cons
  • "The functionality is very good."
  • "We've only been using the solution for half a year. We haven't run into any issues, but maybe over time, that may change. It's too soon to tell. Offhand, there aren't any features that are lacking."

What is most valuable?

We can configure it on our own and it works well. We don't need to do many changes on the device.

Its configuration is similar to Cisco switches. We don't have any unexpected problems with this solution.

The pricing is quite good.

The functionality is very good.

What needs improvement?

We've only been using the solution for half a year. We haven't run into any issues, but maybe over time, that may change. It's too soon to tell. Offhand, there aren't any features that are lacking.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using the solution for half a year.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very stable. Once we set them up we don't need to worry about them anymore.

How are customer service and technical support?

We've reached out to technical support, and we've had a good experience. Dell offers very good support.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We also use Cisco switches. They are very similar to this solution. Cisco and Dell have the same functionality. For Dell, however, it's two devices in one cluster. Still, it's very similar. I don't see any big difference between Cisco and Dell.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. It has an easy configuration. Once it's set up, you can basically walk away and forget it. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Dell costs less than Cisco. Cisco, in comparison, is about four times more expensive.

What other advice do I have?

We're just customers. We aren't partners with Dell.

The solution is fairly easy to use. We configured it and plugged it in, and now it works without a problem. We haven't had any issues with this platform after a year and a half of use.

We don't have any use cases with these devices currently. We do have corporate support from Dell because we bought switches and servers. I don't administrate servers, I only administrate on network infrastructure. 

The implementation we've done so far has been quite small. However, Dell is very good for big companies.

I'd recommend people buy the solution. It's much less expensive than Cisco, and yet it has the same functionalities.

I'd rate the solution eight out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Department Leader: Project Leadership Production Compact at a retailer with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 5
Easy to manage, scalable, but could be more secure

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution in our server room for end-user network conductivity.

What is most valuable?

One of the main features of this solution is it is easy to manage.

What needs improvement?

The security of the solution could be improved, it is really important to us.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of the solution is good but could always improve.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution is scalable and we have approximately 1,000 computers using it.

How are customer service and technical support?

The support is good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have…

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution in our server room for end-user network conductivity.

What is most valuable?

One of the main features of this solution is it is easy to manage.

What needs improvement?

The security of the solution could be improved, it is really important to us.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of the solution is good but could always improve.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution is scalable and we have approximately 1,000 computers using it.

How are customer service and technical support?

The support is good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have previously used HP and other Cisco switches.

How was the initial setup?

The installation could be easier.

What about the implementation team?

We have five technicians for the deployment and maintenance.

What other advice do I have?

I would recommend this solution to others.

I rate Cisco Catalyst Switches a seven out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Get our free report covering Juniper, Arista, Cisco, and other competitors of Cisco FabricPath. Updated: January 2022.
564,322 professionals have used our research since 2012.