Suddenly a wild switch appears…

After my disappointment at the Ubnt Edgeswitches not supporting IPv6 routing I thought I’d be leaving my plans to upgrade the core network in my lab for another year or two, but then I had a thought, if two years ago my Nortel 5520 switch was being knocked out cheap on EBay as it had gone end of life, was there something newer going through the same thing now?

The answer as it happens is yes, the Extreme Networks Summit x450e-48P has recently dropped out of support, and apparently at least one US Government agency was using them, so you can pick them up from EBay from a re-seller for about $200. Cheap as chips!

They do IPv6 routing (although you’d need to find one with the Advanced license for  OSPF) and the firmware is available free from the Extreme Networks site (although I haven’t got the SSL module yet (because of US export restrictions you have to be a company in the US to get into the download area, and I’m not a company so I’m waiting to see if they hand it over anyway!).

There is less power available for PoE (370W rather than the Nortel’s 500W) but I’m not running enough PoE kit to ever hit either limit, so that not an issue, and best of all, they’re bright purple, so how could I refuse?

This is why there is now one sat behind me as I put together its new config. Replacing my 2851 router and 5520-48-pwr switch with this unit should get me faster routing and at least 100-150W off the power usage, which will help with the Arizona summer heat.

We’ll see when she’s up and running of course, but if it knocks off 100W I’ll be happy, and the payoff in power savings should break even in less than two years.

Now I just need to learn the ExtremeOS syntax, documentation seems pretty good though…

It’s Missing Which Feature?

Living in Arizona as I do, and it being hot like it is right now, my mind wondered to my lT lab. Sat there, fans whirring away turning electricity into little flashing lights and heat, could I do something to ease the load on the A/C and perhaps save a couple of dollars off the electricity bill too?

My main servers are pretty new, and don’t use a lot, so there’s not much I can do there, but my core network is some pretty old kit. My Nortel 5520-48-PWR switch may be the cheapest way to get 48 ports of Gigabit PoE enabled managed switch, but it’s not exactly quiet or energy efficient.

To replace it with something new would cost me far more than I’d save in power. I figured that the break even needed to be three years or so max to make it worth splashing out, otherwise I may as well wait a year or two for things to drop in price, or the new shiny to come out.

Thinking further, I also have a 2851 Cisco router in the mix, as the Nortel doesn’t do Layer 3 for IPv6. Ah ha! if I can replace both devices with a single budget L3 switch, I could make a power saving, stick the existing kit in the network lab that’s only on when I need it and justify some shiny new toy *ahem* essential piece of network hardware.

I’d need it to have a decent CLI, so ‘smart’ web GUI only switches were out, as they’re usually pretty awful to use. I do have a TP-Link Smart Switch on my desk, which means I only need one cable back to the rack. It does the job, but it’s not exactly nice to use, or full featured.

Based on some rough numbers, the saving in energy bill was only going to be a few hundreds a year, a decent saving, but not if the break even point is 10 years. This wasn’t going to get me top of the line kit, but at $750 odd a Ubiquiti  EdgeSwitch ES-48-500W was a 3ish year break even, and I’ve already got one of their WiFi access points, so they weren’t an unknown quantity to begin with. The numbers looked good, I could knock off at least 200W of power consumption, buy a new piece of kit and believe I was saving money while I do it! What more could you want?

Man-maths in hand, I pulled up the spec sheet, non-blocking, 10G uplinks, PoE+ Layer 3, STP, Link Aggregation, Policy Routing, all the things you need, and no support contract for firmware updates. Everything you’d want to see in a switch (if you were interested in switches!)  my heart soared. Could this be the one?

I pulled up the manual, looks easy enough to configure. But wait, the routing section doesn’t seem to mention IPv6. Surely this is a mistake. Perhaps they’re going to release it as an update later, they did with some features for the Wireless Access Points?

Over to the Ubiquiti forums, and a quick browse later my suspicions are confirmed. Not only does the current EdgeSwitch series not do IPv6 routing, it cannot do IPv6 routing, so not even the hope of it being enabled later. My heart sank. I’d need a second device to replace the router to make the savings worthwhile, but the payoff would be longer than justifiable.

This is rather infuriating, I can understand leaving features out for cost purposes, but given that IPv6 is becoming more prevalent (Even Cox manage to issue me IPv6 addresses!) I’d consider it core functionality going forward. Certainly given the life-cycle of networking kit I’d not want to buy something without parity between the IPv4 and IPv6 functionality. In the more than 10 years between the my Nortel hitting the market, and the EdgeSwitch being released you’d have thought that IPv6 routing would have become a standard feature.

I could still either route using a virtual router on my ESXi platform, but I’m not sure if my already laden TS140 can push the packets fast enough with the other core VMs running. My pfSense firewall is virtual, but internal routing is handled by the 2851 so I could use that, but then the saving isn’t worth it.

I’ll put this on the back burner and revisit it when the next version comes out in a year or two, hopefully the next iteration will fill this rather glaring hole in the feature set.