The explosion of multimedia applications, video and digital convergence is demanding more and more bandwidth from network infrastructures. Incorporating Gigabit Ethernet into a network of desktop PCs is a proven solution to bandwidth problems, but it is so costly that most small companies cannot afford it.
|VINCENT A. RANDAZZESE
Assistant Technical Editor
ZyXel Communications can alleviate these concerns with its GS-108, an eight-port 100/1000-Mbps switch priced at only $175. With hardware prices this low, it makes financial sense for SOHOs and SMBs to get wired for Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, especially when compared with a more costly T1 line
The GS-108 is housed in a small plastic case and is powered by an external AC adapter. Eight 100/1000 Ethernet ports are located on the front of the unit, as is the WAN port. All ports are clearly labeled. The device's realtime LED indicators report power and connection speed by color. For example, if a port's corresponding LED is green it is operating at 1,000 Mbps. If the LED is orange it is operating at 100 Mbps.
The switch features auto-negotiation capability, which allows it to detect the speed of incoming signals and adjust on-the-fly without user intervention. The switch will allow data-transfer speeds up to 1,000 Mbps in half- or full-duplex mode, depending on the network.
The GS-108 is easy to set up and monitor, thanks to the clear and concise user's manual. Installation was straightforward and simple. Once the device was installed, CRN Test Center engineers conducted file transfers between two machines over an Ethernet LAN. Over a 1,000-Mbps connection, the increase in performance compared with a 100 Mbps connection was very noticeable. In environments where multiple PCs transfer data to each other or to a server, the GS-108 will certainly enhance performance.
The switch does not have a crossover port, so a crossover cable is needed to daisy chain additional switches and hubs. That said, the GS-108 is not designed to handle the traffic generated by a large enterprise. It is truly a tool for SOHOs and SMBs.
For solution providers selling to the SOHO and SMB market, Gigabit Ethernet can be an integral part of any solution. However, it is important that solution providers focus not just on one product such as the GS-108, but on developing complete Gigabit Ethernet-based solutions.
ZyXel's channel program has two partner levels based on purchasing commitments and sales volume. The company offers sales and technical support, as well as lead generation, cash incentives, product evaluation units, and sales and marketing materials to all partners. Partners in the two levels can also receive free, lifetime dedicated technical support. Solution providers in the upper tier have access to priority technical support and preferred placement on the vendor's partner-locator Web site.
The GS-108 comes with a warranty covering two years parts and labor. The average reseller margin is 18 percent.
CHANNEL PROGRAM SNAPSHOTS
> GS-108 GIGABITSWITCH
COMPANY: ZyXel Communications
DISTRIBUTORS: Ingram Micro, Sprint North Supply
Note: Vendors can earn up to five stars for technical merit and five for their channel program. If the average of these two scores is four stars or greater, the product earns CRN Test Center Recommended status.