Initial thoughts on the ProCurve 1810G-8

I've just been asked to deploy some HP ProCurve 1810G-8 switches (J9449A) into a network environment containing a large number of managed and unmanaged ProCurve switches. This network has an existing ProCurve Manager installation which controls all policies for existing managed ProCurve switches. Whilst on paper the switch looks pretty good, it is not really an appropriate product for medium-sized business networks. Some of my basic complaints about the product (based on the shipped firmware version, P1.6):

  • Uses a two-piece plug-pack power supply
  • Does not ship with DHCP enabled.
    • Not only that, but every one of the 1810G-8 switches on my network has lost its DHCP IP address within 1 week of being configured, meaning a painful reconfiguration through the factory default address. I'm presently investigating whether firmware upgrades fix this.
  • Does not ship with SNTP enabled to use the DHCP-supplied NTP server address (in fact, it cannot)
  • The SNTP client is rather slow to sync - in excess of 6 seconds on one switch i checked; several minutes on some switches.
    • The SNTP client is also unreliable, losing perhaps 40-45% of its packets on one switch i checked.
  • Appallingly slow speed administrative interface when accessed via HTTPS.  I have seen login times greater than 5 minutes. The web interface is the slowest, most unreliable i have ever seen on an embedded device.  Every Netgear, D-Link, Billion, or Belkin ADSL modem i've ever encountered performs better.
  • Does not support standards-based loop detection (STP/RSTP)
  • Web-manageable rather than command-line based, so does not integrate in any useful way with ProCurve Manager
  • My ProCurve Manager 2.3 installation goes into a memory-consuming loop when policy activities are viewed on a 1810G-8
  • Web interface renders correctly in Firefox for Windows, but not Firefox for Linux (the versions i used were 3.5.4 and 3.0.17 64-bit, respectively).  In the latter, the menu is spaced much too widely, and thus requires excessive vertical scrolling to navigate.
  • There is a serious bug with firmware upgrades which wipes out the pointers to both primary and secondary images, making it impossible to upgrade firmware.
  • The self-signed certificates generated by the switch do not contain a unique switch identifier in the Certificate Authority name (it is called "self-signed").  This means that if the certificate is installed into your browser, you can never connect to another switch of the same model, due to a clash of CA name and serial number.  It also means that there is no way that you can be logged into two switches via HTTPS at once.  The obvious solution to this is to use an external certificate authority, but i could discover no way to generate a private key and certificate signing request (CSR) in the switch's web interface.  I'd be happy to hear of a workaround for this.
  • The switch doesn't seem to have a permanent clock.  Combined with the slow SNTP sync time, this means that every time it is rebooted, there are log entries with an incorrect date & time stamp generated.

And a quick nod to what's good about the product:

  • Price - retails at a little over AU$200. Comparable with equivalent products from Netgear.
  • Full wire-speed switching - 16 Gbps backbone on the 1810G-8.
  • HP's lifetime warranty.
  • Small case, quiet operation.
  • Reasonable feature set given the price.

It should be obvious that i consider the 1810G switch an ill-conceived product for medium-sized networks.  It shows how HP's embracing of the "cheapest possible price" philosophy has resulted in their product quality decreasing significantly.  The 1810's quality is not up to the standards i expect, and thus is not worthy to bear the ProCurve name.  In my dealings with 1810Gs, i've already spent enough time on them to make their cost of acquisition equivalent to a 2510-24.  Over a 5-year period, the 1810G willcost more to manage than an equivalent fully-managed switch. An ideal low-end 8-port switch for medium-sized ProCurve networks would have the following features:

  • Integrated AC power. It is perfectly acceptable for this to make the switch case 30% to 50% larger in size. A transformer inside the main chassis is much easier to manage than one in a power brick somewhere.
  • Full management interface on par with ProCurve 2510 or 2610 series. It is perfectly acceptable for this to add 50% to 100% to the price. This would still be a great value switch, given HP's warranty service.
  • Available in 8- and 16-port configurations.
  • Ships with DHCP & RSTP enabled.

Basically, we're talking about a ProCurve 6108 in a fanless chassis, without GBIC slots, at a more reasonable price point (AU $300-$400).