Smart switches, which offer web-based traffic management, are intended as a cost-effective solution for smaller businesses looking for basic Layer 2/3 management capabilities without the expense of a fully-managed switch. Although they've been around for several years, the commoditisation of the core silicon is driving prices ever closer to that of unmanaged models.
D-Link's latest 24-port EasySmart model is a 1U rack-mountable 10/100Mbit/s switch for just under £100, making it even more attractive to cash-strapped SMEs. But smart switches live or die on how easy they are to use – after all, one of the key selling points is that you don't need users trained in configuring complex devices via a command line.
Smart switches should operate as a normal unmanaged switch requiring no configuration when you plug it in. The DES-1100-24 does this, but to access the web management interface proved troublesome. It ships with a default fixed IP address of 10.90.90.90, so to enable DHCP you need to connect to it with a PC set to the same domain – using DHCP if a suitable server is found would be a more sensible option, especially given the target SME market.
That niggle aside, the web interface is admirably clear and simple. Most users will probably head straight to the QoS features, where you can implement per-port 802.1p priority levels and bandwidth control.
The interface is fairly jargon-free, but lacks any help facility – for that you need to open up the PDF manual, which is reasonably detailed but does assume a fair amount of background knowledge.
Virtual LAN (VLAN) setup is extremely simple if you choose the port-based VLAN option. You click checkboxes for the member ports and give it a name.
Alternatively, you can use 802.1Q VLANs, which is obviously a little more involved. For smaller companies with limited expertise, port-based VLANs are a good compromise. Each port can be assigned to a separate VLAN if needed.