Monday, February 25, 2008

Another Dell PowerConnect 2716, please?!?

Back in April 2007, I purchased a Dell PowerConnect 2716 to replace my dead Linksys 8-port gigabit network switch.

"Web-Managed" (limited) features

The PowerConnect 2716 is not without its issues, nor is it an enterprise-class switch. While marketed as a "managed" switch, it is actually "Web-Manged", and is rather limited compared to a "full managed" device.

While the 2716 doesn't support the VLAN trunking protocol (VTP), there is decent VLAN support once you overcome the limitations of the GUI and the documentation.

By "Web-Managed", they mean it literally. There is no serial port, SSH, or other methods for remote access other than through a web browser. While the web management console on the 2716 makes heavy use of JavaScript, fortunately it works well with and has official support for Mozilla Firefox.

Still a good switch for the price

The price-to-features comparison still makes this a switch to consider. I received mine directly from Dell for <$170, including shipping. Not bad for 16 gigabit ports and some management capabilities. Compare to a "full"-managed switch from Dell that starts at $349 for 10/100 (PowerConnect 3524), or $833 for gigabit (PowerConnect 5424).

Dell sales issues

Now - even considering the above shortcomings - for the price, all I want is another one. Unfortunately, Dell certainly doesn't make this easy. The quickest approach would be to order directly through their web site, bypassing their troubled sales departments. However, I believe I received a considerable discount last time by calling and speaking with a sales rep. Though trying again within the last week, the same process now apparently involves being transferred through 3 different people - an operator, a pre-sales representative, and finally a networking specialist!

Additionally, at one point during my attempt, I was told that prices on previous orders were good for a year. However, I was unable to find anyone that would honor my previous <$170 price. The PowerConnect 2716 currently lists for $202, on sale from $269 - shipping not included. I just have a hard time believing that the price has gone UP on such a mature product.

Additionally, I wouldn't be surprised at a high turnover in employment within Dell's sales department. However, considering the above issues, I was surprised when I emailed the sales representative that handled my first order, and received back an auto reply. He was out-of-office, but apparently still with Dell Sales. Unfortuately, even 4 weeks later, I still haven't received any reply back from either him or his out-of-office contact.

To add a feeling of insult to the entire situation, just after I gave up on my purchasing efforts, I received a "60 Day Notice - Don't Let Your Dell Service Contract Expire" email, regarding the warranty expiration on my existing unit.

Update (2008-02-29):

Just found and purchased one on eBay (using "Buy It Now") for $150 + $15.42 for shipping, handling, and insurance. I'm expecting to receive it sometime next week, but have been very impressed with the seller so far. I've no reason to doubt that it'll arrive exactly as advertised: less than 4 months old, in brand new condition, with the original packaging and all the accessories. Appears to be a better deal than my original purchase from Dell!


Anonymous said...

any update on this one?
I have a netgear that has failed (previously discussed on your site) and I'd like to consider the dell as a replacement.
Sadly, in australia dell don't release a price on their website - you have to call a sales rep :-(
However, I have a rep that I have used over the years that has been excellent - I'll email them - they always reply within 30 mins of getting my email (when in of course!).
Feedback on how teh switch has behaved on this forum would be nice though.

Anonymous said...

Just bought a new one for $184 plus tax. They show three versions of the same product: the only difference is Next Business Day service agreement. That is what drives up the price. Purchased it directly from the Dell web site