Why we moved from Cisco switches to Huawei Cloud Engine switches

I don’t work for Huawei and nor have they commissioned me to write this. I hate having to say that but I feel like I need to. I like to write the odd article about tech and why I have deployed it as it’s a genuine customer view/end-user view and I like to report on good or bad that I see as I go through my IT life.

One of the most recent projects that has just gone live is moving our Cisco switches (Core and Distribution layers) to Huawei. In part there are a number of reasons why we moved away from Cisco.

  1. For starters the commercials for Huawei are considerably cheaper when you sit them next to Cisco. As an example buying into the Cloud Engine series which in my mind is the same as buying into Nexus for Cisco is as much as 60% cheaper.
  2. The actual through-put on the Huawei switches are for the most part higher than Cisco. I don’t have any hard facts to back this up so don’t shoot me down, I am just going on what I found in my R&D
  3. When you look at features that you get for you hard-earned cash you do get a hell of a lot more for less
  4. Our first experience of Huawei support whilst on a POC was first class and they are a lot more agile than Cisco when it comes to bug fixes and changes. I realise that Cisco are huge but we need to work with more agile vendors so this suits us
  5. In fact the actual POC and getting access to the loan equipment was excellent, they really went the extra mile to make sure we had the full experience, again I have found Cisco to be a bit anal when it comes to that type of thing, especially when you are not a huge customer.
  6. We got access to their “Hedex” documentation store which is awesome. Basically they give you an offline copy of all of their documentation, but to top it off the documentation not only has numerous config examples, they are all really good and they actually walk you through a technology from basics. Awesome when you are stuck on site and there is no Internet and you need to configure TRILL for example.

In closing if you are in a similar situation to me (limited budget, aged network etc) and you want to future proof your network I would consider Huawei. Ours have been in production for three months and have shown no issues at all. If you are a die-hard Cisco guy like me then you will be able to transition quickly to the Huawei IOS. In fact I will put a post out about that soon.



5 thoughts on “Why we moved from Cisco switches to Huawei Cloud Engine switches

  1. Secret April 24, 2014 / 1:21 am

    Our security manager would never let us do that. Huawei is banned in 2 countries (USA and Australia) because their hardware was found to contain spyware. Noteably Huawei’s roots were a branch of the Chinese government.

    So yeah, go for it if you aren’t transmitting any data that you don’t mind the Chinese government viewing and collecting 😉

    • infrastructureguy April 24, 2014 / 8:13 pm

      Thanks for the comment, I didn’t know about their roots in government. I guess with anything Chinese you have to be mindful of their exports. I can share your security managers concerns, however we are not having to adhere to PCI nor do we have to worry about keeping our traffic 100% private. Sure we secure our network as best we can like any good IT should. When you hear about the NSA and the like it’s not just the Chinese who need to be kept at arms length, it’s a world gone mad and you have to wonder if you can trust anyone!

  2. Leigh December 6, 2014 / 2:09 pm

    I don’t buy the spyware stories. So you have CE switches passing 10Gb/s or so of data.. How are they going to spy on that and where is it going to go? How would it get out anywhere? Sorry, it’s just FUD from western companies/governments who want to protect their own.

    Who cam blame them!

    And then what do we find? Cisco,Juniper and others all are accused of doing the exact same thing but for the other side.

    I’d have no problem using Huawei products from the security point of view.

    • infrastructureguy December 6, 2014 / 3:51 pm

      Fair response Leigh. Our switches are still performing and we have been looking at other huawei products to replace our aged cisco kit.

      FUD is a killer and I agree it just helps to feed the vendors greed and keep us hooked on their stuff!

    • Stoat May 23, 2016 / 2:24 pm

      All the “spyware” stories have been thoroughly debunked.

      It’s worth noting that the earlier scare about “insecure” Huawei switches was actually about 3com switches with Huawei badges on them, dating from the days of that joint venture.

      I’ve also deployed a stack of Cloudengines. The experience here was much the same, but we also had pitches from HP, Brocade and Juniper along with Cisco and Huawei.

      HP/Brocade/Juniper/Huawei’s pricing were all pretty close. The outlier was Cisco at 3-4 times the cost, with simply astronomical maintenance/support charges and myriad extra charges for “features” which were standard in everyone else’s product.

      Cisco approached the deal (we’re a university) as if it was a done deal and simply rubbished the competition without showing any actual USP of their own.

      What clinched it for Huawei was their pre and post-sales support, along with misgivings about HP and Brocade’s long-term committment/stability (this was at a time of a lot of bad news for both companies, plus we’d had some dealing with other kit in the past which didn’t leave us happy)

      Bear in mind that _all_ these 64-port 10GB/s TRILL devices that were on sale in 2014/2015 (often implemented as 48*10 + 4*40) are based on the exact same Broadcom Trident2 switching chipset (Yes, even the Nexus boxes).

      This is the age of commodity silicon switches, even at the high end. Differentiation is now around support, build quality and the command structure/command set.

      Having spent upwards of $250k on Huawei hardware on our small research campus servicing 3000 hosts across 5 buildings: Would I do it again? Yes, in a heartbeat. Huawei have gone above and beyond their obligations in every single instance of trouble we’ve had (almost entirely caused by misreading the manuals) and when we had an actual, honest-to-goodness device failure (PSU in a S5700) the replacement was onsite the next day.

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