Managing the Dell Networking X4012 Switch
If you are accustomed to the Dell X-Series of web managed switches, then this is going to look very familiar. Simple L2 and L3 features can be accessed and set up via the Web GUI. These switches are intended for the SMB segment where archaic CLI interfaces may hamper administration in simple networks. If you want to set up a port as a L2 or L3 port, or change VLAN attributes, one can do so through a simple to learn GUI instead of delving into CLI.
Security features are as we would expect. There are items like local user administration as well as the ability to use different authentication sources like RADIUS.
Features like link aggregation and spanning tree get their own menus. As an aside, advanced networking concepts are supported fairly well in the X-series networking GUI. We really like that feature. At the same time, most administrators are going to use this as a fairly basic L2+ switch at best. Browsing the GUI, one can see the robust feature set so if you are a power-user, you are going to be able to get a lot done here. This is far from an ultra-basic function set like you may see in other SMB switches.
Also supported are things like remote logging and alerting. This is important as we can see many of these switches being deployed in remote branch offices where IT will be managed by off-site teams.
Working with the X-Series web UI, some transactions are very slow, taking several seconds for a page load. As Dell’s networking team looks to refresh the X-series in the future, we hope they take into account the need to have faster page loads on every page. This does not take away from the functionality, but it does add time to complete simple tasks.
The lack of a 1GbE management port is a huge oversight in our minds. Let us say, for example, that you are a SMB admin with a laptop. Let us also assume that you have a 1GbE wired port on that laptop. How can you connect to a SFP+ switch? In the SMB space, directly attaching a laptop, or putting a device on a 1GbE management network is fairly standard practice. The Dell X4012 requires an admin to use a console port at the back of the unit for direct console access on a standard laptop. One of the biggest advantages to using a web-managed switch is being able to manage from the WebUI instead of an archaic networking command line. Not having the ability to access the web management interface directly from a laptop is a big oversight on Dell’s part.
As a note, switches like the Dell X1052 can serve as a 1GbE to 10GbE bridge and we expect most users to do this. The Dell X1052 has 1GbE ports so a direct connection for an administrator is possible. The Dell S4112-ON products have 1GbE management interfaces, three 100GbE QSFP28 ports, and twelve SFP+ ports on the front of their chassis, so it is not a physical space limitation in a half-width chassis.
Next, we are going to look at performance, power consumption, and sound levels before giving our final thoughts.