Cisco's FastHub 400 series has the bases covered

Cisco's FastHub 400 series has the bases covered

By J.B. Miles

Special to GCN

Cisco Systems Inc.'s dominant position in the network hardware market is evident in its full range of 10/100-Mbps Ethernet products, including the high-performance FastHub 400 10/100 stackable hub series.

Designed as a counterpart to Cisco's 2900 10/100 Fast Ethernet Switch Series, the FastHub 400 series offers both 12-port and 24-port units in both managed and unmanaged versions. All versions include integrated stacking connectors and a stacking cable'ordered separately'which allow up to four hubs per stack.

As many as 96 users can be aggregated into a single, manageable, logical repeater of 10-Mbps Ethernet or 100-Mbps Fast Ethernet. Cisco calls this configuration a FastHub Stack 10/100. The FastHub Stack can be managed by including a FastHub 412M or 424M managed hub in the stack. Up to two managed hubs per stack may be included for redundant stack management.

Tips for buyers

' Hub stacks may be used alone or in concert with network switches.

' Buy your stackable units from an established network hardware manufacturer. Some vendors are phasing out hubs, so support could be a problem down the line.

' 10/100 dual-speed Ethernet hubs, switches and network interface cards constitute the best upgrade path from legacy 10-Mbps Ethernet LAN systems.

' Look for modular hub designs if you want to add extra management or communications links.

' All new hubs should come with an internal switch or bridge for communications between 10-Mbps and 100-Mbps devices.

Both the 412M and 424M managed models support a wide range of management protocols, including Simple Network Management Protocol, four groups of the Remote Network Monitoring protocol, and Cisco's own Cisco Discovery Protocol and its command-line interface. A built-in Hypertext Transfer Protocol server also allows users to manage the hub stack with a standard browser from anywhere on the Internet.

Switched uplink

All FastHub 400 models, including the 412 and 424 unmanaged versions, come with an internal switch for connecting the 10Base-T Ethernet and 100Base-TX Fast Ethernet segments in the hubs. They also come with a single-port autosensing 10/100-Mbps switch uplink module for creating switched uplinks to the network backbone.

Managers have the option of adding one single-port 100Base-TX module for uplink connectivity of up to 100 meters, or one 100Base-FX switch module for creating long-distance fiber uplinks of up to two kilometers.

The units are well-designed and highly scalable, especially when combined with Cisco's popular 2900 10/100 network switches.

While other companies, including IBM Corp., are pulling out of the 10/100 hub market, Cisco is holding its ground. If you buy a Cisco FastHub 400 10/100, you most likely will be able to count on Cisco support for years to come.

The only downside I could find to the FastHub 400 10/100 Series was the relatively high prices of the various models, which range from $895 for the 412 unmanaged hub to $1,995 for the 424M managed unit. That's a lot to pay for a hub, but performance and reliability could justify the price.


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