HP ProCurve Switch 3500yl-24G-PWR review

£2040
Price when reviewed

Gigabit Ethernet prices have dropped so low over the past six months that high-speed networks are now a reality for all sizes of business. This has given many vendors the opportunity to offer affordable switching products with multiple features, and HP’s latest ProCurve Switch 3500yl-24G-PWR delivers them by the bucketful.

HP ProCurve Switch 3500yl-24G-PWR review

The switch offers basic routing, virtual stacking capabilities, traffic management including QoS, user authentication and full support for PoE (Power-over-Ethernet) on all copper Gigabit Ethernet ports. For the latter, the 3500yl provides the full 15.4W on each port. There’s no need for power-management facilities, as it can handle multiple 802.3af-compliant products with ease. And the switch also allows 10Gb Ethernet uplinks over copper and fibre connections.

10Gb Ethernet prices are similarly starting to fall, bringing this technology within range of mid-sized businesses. The 3500yl requires a single expansion module fitted in the large slot at the rear and this comes with a pair of fixed 10GBase-CX4 copper interfaces. The two Media Flex sockets on each side accept the shorter X2-compliant transceiver modules. HP offers X2-SC modules for 10GBase-SR, -LR and, more recently, -ER. None of the 10GbE modules support LC fibre connectors, though, so if you’re planning on using, for example, Intel’s 10GBase-SR server adapter you’ll need an SC-LC converter cable.

Switch installation is simple enough and starts at the well-designed command-line interface, where you can set up basic switch information and IP addressing. HP has now implemented access to PoE functions in the switch’s web interface. This allows you to see total power consumption, those ports providing power and which PoE device types are connected. It’s possible to enable and disable power on individual ports and set per-port priorities for allocating power, although the latter isn’t really necessary, as the switch can supply a total of nearly 400W.

Apart from the extra PoE functions, HP’s web interface hasn’t changed, but it’s still one of the best around. The homepage offers an alert log with advice about network problems, likely causes and suggestions for remedial action, while above is a bar graph showing general port activity. Stacking can be configured directly from the web interface, where you can place up to 16 switches into a single, logical stack. One switch is designated as the stack commander and all others as stack members, which assume all administrative passwords of the controlling switch. If you do enable stacking, you can’t use HP’s switch-meshing feature.

The bundled ProCurve Manager software takes over from HP’s TopTools utility in name only, as it’s actually the same product. However, this is one area where HP stands out from the crowd. This utility provides extremely good device-management and monitoring features, along with a complete dashboard of bandwidth-utilisation graphs. You can also opt for the Plus version, which adds extensive network-analysis functions to the mix.

At just over £2,000, the 3500yl is a top choice for extending Gigabit Ethernet to the network edge.

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