REVIEW: D-Link SmartPro DGS-1510-28P

D-Link SmartPro DGS-1510-28P

Due for release in March (2014), the DGS-1510 series is the latest addition to D-Link’s SmartPro lineup of small business network switches, adding support for high bandwidth 10GbE fibre both for server uplinks and switch stacking. The supporting fabric is, naturally, also beefed up to cope with the extra workload and a number of other enhancements applied to the specification further extending an already comprehensive L2/L3 feature set.

All Of The Sizes

D-Link SmartPro DGS-1510-28P

There are four models in the DGS-1510 SmartPro series, each equipped with four SFP ports for fibre connectivity and either 16 (DGS-1510-20), 24 (DGS-1510-28) or 48 copper UTP ports (DGS-1510-52). There’s also a PoE enabled version of the 24-port model (the DGS-1510-28P) which we were sent for testing which, although not available at the time of the review, was being marketed online for around £425 (ex. VAT).

For companies in serviced offices the smallest of the new D-Link switches could easily be used standalone but most customers will opt for rack mounting for which brackets are provided. Installation is easy and there’s nothing remarkable about the all-metal chassis design with power applied at the back and the network interfaces spread across the front panel. The usual LEDs indicate port status and activity, and there’s also a separate RJ45 connector for local console management using an adapter cable shipped in the box.

Fans are needed to keep the electronics at the right temperature in this range of switches with either one or two, dependent on model, venting to the side. Our PoE switch had two fans, resulting in a noise profile which, although not overly intrusive, we felt best suited to data centre or cabinet deployment rather than an open plan office.

Of course PoE switches are, of necessity, big energy consumers, but support for the 802.3az Energy Efficient Ethernet standard enables all the DGS-1510 switches to scale back on power when network activity is low. Added to that proprietary D-Link Green 3.0 technology allows other energy saving measures to be applied, such as shutting down unused ports and turning off unnecessary LEDs.

Optical Options

D-Link SmartPro DGS-1510-28P

The UTP capabilities are generally unremarkable with the ports provided all Gigabit capable and the D-Link switch automatically adapting the setup of each to match both the speed of the attached endpoint and the type of cable. The four SFP ports, meanwhile have a dual role and can either be used to connect to servers, switches and so on or, by using optional direct-attach cables, to provide the interconnect for a physical switch stack.

Up to six switches can be stacked this way to provide up to 288 switched Gigabit ports managed as a single unit. Added to which there’s support for “virtual stacking” whereby up to 32 distributed switches can be managed together, albeit without the benefit of the high-speed interconnect.

However you choose to use the SFP ports, you do still have to buy transceivers before fibre can be attached with two of the ports limited to Gigabit while the other two (the SFP+ ports) can take either Gigabit or 10GbE transceivers.

Pricing is largely dependent on the type of fibre involved and the bandwidth required. Gigabit 1000 BASE-SX transceivers, for example, can be had for as little as £56 (ex. VAT), whereas you’ll need to spend between £200 and £360 (ex. VAT) to get 10GbE connectivity. Direct attach cables for stacking also have to be bought separately.

Power Over

The DGS-1510-28P we looked at also features Power-over-Ethernet with support for devices drawing up to 15.4 Watts (802.3af) or 30 Watts (802.3at). This can be delivered across all 24 ports although, with a power budget of just 193 Watts overall, the number of devices that can get their power this way is a little limited.

On the plus side small businesses generally only use PoE for simple wireless access points and IP phones with low power requirements. Added to which there are controls in the management interface to cap and schedule power delivery on a per-port basis, to better share out what’s available.

Features To Go

D-Link SmartPro DGS-1510-28P

Installing a DGS-1500 switch is a fairly straightforward process, the default settings enabling it to deliver L2 switching straight out of the box. You can then go in and configure the various “smart” features to, for example configure VLAN and QoS (Quality of Service) options to segment and prioritise traffic, with useful automated setup of these options specifically for voice and surveillance networks.

Static routing between VLANs is another welcome option, along with a number of network security features including 802.1x authentication and traffic screening based on MAC or IP address. Built-in protection against traffic flooding is yet another option as part of the integrated D-Link Safeguard Engine.

In terms of how you configure and manage these features you’re somewhat spoilt for choice. To begin with there’s a CLI for both local console use and remote access plus SNMP support and a custom Network Assistant utility for Windows which can discover and manage switches without the need to change the host IP address. For our evaluation, however, we used the Web interface which is what most small businesses will opt for unless they have an existing SNMP console.

Like other vendors, the D-link interface treads a fine line between making the switch easy to manage and providing access to some really quite advanced features. To this end it features a real-time representation of the switch front panel at the top showing the current status, however, you can’t then click on this to drill down and manage the various settings.

Instead you have to rely on menus and associated configuration windows underneath, an approach that takes a while to learn with a fair amount of technical knowledge assumed. That said, it gets the job done and does so without the need to learn the underlying CLI command set or invest in an SNMP console while still providing access to the tools needed to exploit the functionality on offer.

Who Needs It?

As to who should buy the DGS-1510, it really comes down to bandwidth. The 10GbE capabilities are the key differentiator so it will mostly be companies wanting to stream large volumes of data around their networks and provide high bandwidth pipes to servers. The extra throughput can also be of benefit when taking backups and replicating information between servers.

It’s also worth noting that the DGS-1510 series switches look to be competitively priced compared to Gigabit-only switches. As such companies not sure if they need 10Gbe might want to consider them purely for their L2/L3 capabilities, with the option of upgrading to get the extra bandwidth later should the need arise.