Netgear GC108PP Management
As is a theme with the line, management is perhaps our most and least favorite part of the switch simultaneously. The Netgear 8-port 1GbE GC108PP switch is designed to utilize Netgear Insight cloud management. This is in many ways similar to a Cisco Meraki offering, with a twist: it is from Netgear. We wanted to test both local and Insight cloud management here. Upon using Netgear’s Switch Discovery Tool, we saw something that we were not accustomed to:
The tool did not find this switch. We tried running the tool with a few other switches from Netgear and they worked. For some reason, we did not get a hit after multiple attempts with the GC108PP.
Local Management Unregistered
When we logged into the switch this is the admin splash page we saw in our browser. Before getting too far, we have V220.127.116.11 firmware here but we updated to V18.104.22.168 which was the newest version available at the time of this review. We tried both to get our noise readings but also checked the management features.
Upon logging in with the default password of “password” (no username) we are asked to change the password. This form does not accept “password” so it requires a change upon first login. We explain how California regulations are forcing this change in Why Your Favorite Default Passwords Are Changing.
Netgear is effectively requiring the registration of its switches. Upon logging in, the switch tells you to register. The web management interface is quite barren and missing the features advertised with the switch in its unregistered state.
The switch can still be used by plugging-in cameras or other devices and using the switch as effectively an unmanaged unit, but functionality such as setting VLANs is not available in the web GUI.
Local Management Registered
If you want a more standard Netgear management experience, you need to set up this switch in a fairly specific way. You need to download the Netgear app to your mobile device. Then register the switch with Netgear. Once you do that, you can request local-only management instead of Insight Cloud portal management. For some sense on how much registration unlocks, here is the dashboard with all of the features. Just see how many more menu options are available.
You can see by the sheer quantity of menu options how much more is available with local management once the registration key is added.
Moving up Netgear Insight Cloud
This is a switch we are using solely to power devices. Patrick our Editor-in-Chief will be using this switch for a project he wanted to do. As a result, I did not want to register the switch in my Insight account. We thought about making a third account for the switch but want our users to be sure to read the terms and conditions. There are provisions for Netgear to advertise to you as well as user content licenses being granted. With the new operating model around registration and Insight, Netgear is turning what should be a simple solution (providing 1GbE networking to a handful of ports with power delivery) into something that has IP implications and agreeing to advertisements.
In the Netgear Insight portal, we get the layout of the Netgear switch and all of the configuration options we would expect.
The other nice feature, and why many will certainly like the Insight feature is the ability to control and monitor multiple devices at once. That is important when you, for example, want to add a guest WiFi VLAN or add a new network feature. Having a single place to go is undoubtedly beneficial.
Netgear management comes down to two very different ways to look at it. If you simply want a basic switch to power a handful of PoE/PoE+ devices, then having local management without needing Insight is ideal. The Insight registration offers what you probably want, but requires that registration step. For organizations deploying multiple switches, along with other gear, the Insight management interface is clearly a better solution with a single place to go to see a network. With a $10,000 switch, the only buyers are organizations that want that higher-level of manageability. In a switch that costs around $120, it seems like there are going to be a mix of buyers. Personally, I prefer a full local management without registration option.
Netgear would be well-served thinking about an on-prem management solution or a private management solution like some of its competitors have. Unlike some smaller/ niche networking players, Netgear has been around for a long time, so it is likely Insight will be around for years. At the same time, many SMB buyers will purchase a switch like this and hope to forget about it for a decade. Running a control plane in a VM can make more sense for those buyers.
Next, we are going to take a look at the performance.