20 dedicated RJ45 gigabit Ethernet ports, and either another four RJ45 or four SFP ports rated for one gigabit. (Credit: CBS Interactive)
The HP ProCurve 2910al is more a design of function over form, with its 24 Power over Ethernet plus (PoE+) gigabit Ethernet ports on the front. The ProCurve offers configurable power up to 33W per port — although the switch only has a 382W PSU, so power has to be rationed accordingly across the ports, whether through a priority system or manually setting power output on each.
Like most network gear the RJ45 ports are auto-sensing, switching from 10Mbit, to 100Mbit, to 1000Mbit where necessary. To the right, there are four GbE SFP ports, however if you want to use these you'll have to sacrifice four of your RJ45s. If you plug in an SFP cable, the RJ45 port associated with it will automatically disable, including PoE.
The left features a USB port for diagnosing and secure updating of the device (featured on the rear on the 48 port switch), and RJ45 console port and LEDs for power, fault and device location are here as well. A button on the front cycles the RJ45 jack lights between activity, full duplex, speed, PoE information, although a fifth "user" option is present, marked by HP to be used for "future development".
Reset and clear recovery pinholes are found under these. The first clears error conditions and runs a self test, or in combination with the clear button resets the switch to factory default. The clear button actually wipes out the admin password should you forget and allows access again to the device — although those concerned with security can turn this off through the CLI.
Probably the only curve on the ProCurve. (Credit: CBS Interactive)
Flipping around the back we're presented with redundant and external power supply inputs, the notched IEC cable that's indicative of a Power over Ethernet device and a single screw for earthing. The ProCurve can be built to your needs — it has two live swap-out bays into which three different types of modules can be put — a dual 10-GbE CX4 module, a single 10-GbE Interconnect Kit or a dual 10-GbE SFP+ module.
CX4 and SFP 10GbE switchable modules plug into the back of the switch.
(Credit: CBS Interactive)
Sadly this doesn't mean that modules can be pulled, inserted and things will just start working — a reboot will most likely be required to initialise the module, and as such HP recommends you power down the unit to swap things over anyway. Of course you don't want anyone nicking your modules, so it's not a quick release system — requiring a Torx T10 driver to unscrew the two spring-loaded screws on each module before it can be removed.
Torx T10 security screws hold the switch together. The only "security", like Apple, is by virtue of less people using them. You can pick up a torx kit from Bunnings rather easily.
(Credit: CBS Interactive)
Accessories are light, the switch itself coming with mounting brackets and screws, four rubber feet, an RJ45 > DB9 cable and a power cable.
Its title alone makes it clear that this is a PoE switch — although non-PoE versions are available. There's also a 48 port version available, should your needs scale this high. You don't get any extra processing grunt with it though, it uses the exact same hardware as the 24 port version, just with extra sockets.
Empty traces on the motherboard show that HP uses the exact same board for its 48 port version. The black cable connects the motherboard to the USB port.(Credit: CBS Interactive)
Internally is a dual ARM1156T2S @ 515MHz, with a 4MB flash ROM for firmware and 512MB of SDRAM. A 1GB CF card is supplied, featuring a primary boot image, secondary boot image for rollback and some configuration details. 6MB of packet buffer is supplied. Airflow runs from right to left, courtesy of four 40mm Delta fans pushing 24CFM at 54.5dbA, which are reasonably quiet for the equipment involved.
The ProCurve's primary and secondary boot images are stored on CF card. To the right is a socket for one of the modules. (Credit: CBS Interactive)
"HP Innovation" includes using thermal glue, so we couldn't get the heatsinks off safely to take photos. According to the specs though, it's a dual ARM1156T2S @ 515MHz.
(Credit: CBS Interactive)
Initial configuration must be done through local console, although once it is set up on your network, remote administration is possible through telnet. RADIUS and SSH are also supported, as are TACACS+ and MAC authentication. Logging in through Teraterm Pro, the console could either be displayed as a menu or a command line.
Console setup is fairly straightforward. (Credit: CBS Interactive)
The main menu of the console. (Credit: CBS Interactive)
A web UI is also available, covering most of the common functions found in the CLI. It makes extensive use of Java, and although makes some things quicker to use than the console, HP has done the bare minimum here rather than putting in effort, and finding options quickly or managing the switch efficiently is more of a chore than it needs to be.
The initial configuration screen is a graphical view of the ports, which you can select to disable or enable each individually (multiple ports can be selected by holding CTRL), or mouse over to see the status. It's a good start, but the rest of the sections in the UI simply use lists and require a lot of clicks — basic tasks like creating VLANs, trunking and link aggregation were easy enough, but we'd much prefer a unified interface built around the graphical port view, and it seems HP has missed an opportunity to increase the usability of its product.
The web UI is quite Java heavy. Ports can be selected and enabled/disabled graphically. (Credit: CBS Interactive)
The amount of pointless scrollbars can actually obscure elements here. Clearly HP has aimed for functionality first, usability second. (Credit: CBS Interactive)
DHCP snooping, dynamic ARP protection and source port/protocol/multicast filtering are available, as well as port based and user based access control. Ingress rate limiting and IPv6 are also supported.
Service, support, warranty
A lifetime warranty is particularly appealing, as is lifetime software updates, with a next business day replacement. HP offers a number of "care packs" for service from three to five years, including options for 24/7 phone support, four hour on-site support, and 13x5 or 24x7 hardware replacement services.
You can find the 2910al-24G-PoE+ online for around AU$4999. If you don't need PoE, you can pick one up online for around AU$3500. The 48 port version can cost you up to AU$6500, while with PoE this jumps to AU$8900.