Juniper switch proves to be credible choice

Juniper switch proves to be credible choice

Review shows the EX 4200 to be fast, feature-rich and manageable

Manageability and usability

Assessing switch manageability is a two-part affair, with objective and subjective components. The objective part is easy, because it's based on empirical observations: We verified the EX 4200 supports management over IPv4 networks via SNMP, telnet, Secure Shell, Web, SSL and syslog. Commendably, none of these methods are enabled by default, and each (along with an FTP server) can be individually toggled on and off.

In terms of usability, the JUNOS CLI very easy to operate, even though our experience with JUNOS was limited and dated going into this test.

Unix geeks are sure to appreciate JUNOS's FreeBSD heritage; indeed, the system's CLI is a process running atop a C shell that users can drop into. The CLI also supports matching of output against regular expressions, and the syntax of many configuration parameters resembles that of many Unix configuration files. Anyone who's spent significant time in a Unix or Linux shell probably will feel at home with the JUNOS CLI.

IPv6 isn't yet fully supported in the EX line. The switch does not yet support routing of IPv6 traffic (this is slated for a release by year-end), though of course L2 switching is possible. Switch management over an IPv6 network is possible, but Web and SSL access methods aren't supported.

Not quite reset

Our final check of device management involved a factory reset, which is generally considered a best practice when decommissioning a device (it's also a regulatory requirement in some industries).

Juniper offers four reset methods: There's a front-panel LED option, a CLI command and USB and TFTP file transfers of a new image. Unfortunately, the easiest of these -- using the front-panel LED menu -- doesn't fully restore the switch to its factory settings. After the reset, we found SSH keys and configuration files we'd previously stored. The USB and TFTP downloads actually do overwrite the existing file system. In any event, users are well advised to verify that any reset device really has been wiped clean.

Even considering the few shortcomings we found, the EX 4200 turned in solid results for a new product -- more solid, in fact, than some other vendors' third or fourth efforts. While Juniper clearly still has work to do, especially in its multicast code, the EX 4200 represents a real challenge to Cisco for enterprise access switching.

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