Survey: Hardened PoE Switches for IP Video

Author: Antony Look, Published on Oct 29, 2010

Deploying IP cameras in environmentally demanding applications such as utilities, public safety, transportation, marine, manufacturing, railway, etc. are increasingly common. In these environments switches with the proper regulatory approvals to withstand harsh operating conditions are either mandated or strongly recommended.

Even commercial sector IP camera deployments outdoors may warrant the use of hardened switches to provide better reliability, uptime and overall equipment longevity.

In this report we provide an overview of several manufacturers specializing in industrial-grade Ethernet switches appropriate for IP video applications. Furthermore, we look exclusively at those providing PoE and/or PoE+ capability. We narrowed and focused our research on companies mentioned in our LinkedIn discussion: What Switches Should be Used for IP Video Surveillance.

Manufacturers Included

For our survey, we included the following companies:

We did not include Cisco in this report. While they do have industrial switches, those models not support PoE.

Differentiation Examined

We identified a number of points of differentiation that we examine inside the Pro section:

  • Advanced networking features supported
  • Managed vs unmanaged switches
  • Port density
  • HPoE support
  • Price range amongst hardened switches
  • Price premium of hardened over non-hardened ('normal') switches

Key Findings

In our survey, we identified the following key findings:

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  • Hardened managed switches generally support key networking features, e.g. STP/RTSP for layer 2 redundancy and IGMP Snooping/Querier for multicast filtering
  • EtherWAN, Korenix, and Planet offer a 'smart' compromise between managed and unmanaged; Moxa, Garrettcom and Comnet do not
  • Other commonly found managed networking features (SNMP, Port Mirroring, Link Aggregation, and 802.1x)
  • Hardened switches tend to be of lower port densities such as 4, 6 and 8 port models
  • Hardened switches generally available in DIN-Rail form factors with wider operating temerature ranges (e.g., -40 to 75 degrees C)
  • Moxa, EtherWAN, and Korenix supported PoE+ (802.3at), while Comnet, Planet, and Garrettcom did not
  • Garrettcom and Moxa exhibited the highest pricing; Planet and Korenix had the lowest priced offerings
  • The Cisco IE3000 and IE2955 series industrial Ethernet switches do not have PoE offerings
  • Average price for an unmanaged 4-port 10/100 PoE hardened switch was roughly $500
  • Average price for a managed 8-port 10/100 PoE hardened switch was roughly $1100
  • Average price for a managed 24-port 10/100 PoE hardened switch was roughly $2500

Recommendations

Many critical infrastructures such as for smart-grid applications for utilities and communications networks for ITS will typically require high levels of availability. This goal requires redundancy enabling standard protocols such as STP (802.1d) and RSTP (802.1w) at layer 2 or routing protocols at layer 3.  All the managed switches across manufacturers appeared to provide STP/RSTP support. Interestingly, Korenix offered STP/RSTP in their lower tier Web-Managed models. Unmanaged switches do not provide support for STP/RSTP.

Harsher commercial sector deployments may only require the additional physical ruggedness available in these industrial-grade switches (i.e., less business critical application therefore, no redundancy or STP/RSTP required), so the lower priced unmanaged versions will present the more cost-effective option.

The lower 10/100 access layer port densities (e.g., 4, 6 and 8) of industrial-grade switches typically resulted in 100 Mbps fiber based (100BaseFX - SM or MM) or even 100BaseT copper uplinks for backhaul towards the head-end. For bandwidth intensive video applications, consider the use of GigE fiber/copper or GigE SFP ports if warranted (e.g. 4 ports fully loaded with megapixel MJPEG IP cameras).

PoE/PoE+ power budgets are an important consideration in planning an IP video deployment. Some manufacturer/models were found to support full class III (15.4W) or even full PoE+ (30W) simultaneously across all PoE enabled ports, while other switches specified a maximum PoE budget, requiring more thoughtful planning and provisioning. For example, all Moxa PoE+ (802.3at) switches support 30W simultaneously across all PoE ports. Planet's entire line of PoE switches supports 15.4W simultaneously, as well.

When the average $1100 cost of an 8-port hardened PoE switch is compared with the Cisco managed SRW208MP switch featuring 8 10/100 PoE ports at an approximate online price of $300, the premium cost for industrial-grade ruggedness is roughly $800.

The Cisco managed SRW224G4P switch (commercial non-hardened) featuring 24 PoE ports costs $450 compared to a $2500 average for an industrial-grade 24-port PoE switch. This again, represents a significant premium cost ($2000 more) for hardened specifications and regulatory approvals.

Overview: Comnet Hardened PoE Switches for IP Video

Comnet offers industrial-grade PoE capabilities only amongst its managed switch line.

There are two Comnet PoE switch models:

  • CNGE2FE8MSPOE - Fully managed 8 10/100 PoE ports and two (2) GigE Combo ports in a DIN-RAIL form factor (online price $1000)  
  • CNGE2FE24MSPOE - Fully managed 24 10/100 PoE ports and two (2) GigE Combo ports in a 1RU rack mountable form factor (online price $2300)

Key Features:

  • Both the 8 and 24 port models provide two (2) GigE Combo ports
  • Both provide full Class III (15.4W) simultaneously across all 8 or 24 PoE ports
  • Both have an operating temperature range of -40 to 75 degrees C
  • Both support key open standards networking features

Comnet does not achieve the diversity and breadth of hardened PoE switch offerings as other manufacturers such as Korenix, EtherWAN, and Moxa. However, Comnet does hit the performance 'sweet-spot' in terms of placing PoE capabilitities within fully managed GigE SFP capable devices - in otherwords it's easier to upsell the idea of scalability than to not have the initial capabilities required. The $1000 price tag for the 8-port PoE model is competitive with the equivalent Korenix and Planet lower cost offerings as well.  It's just that Comnet can't offer a sub $300 unmanaged 4-port PoE switch when the application has simple requirements.

Overview: EtherWAN PoE Switches for IP Video

EtherWAN's diverse portfolio of switches, generally positioned for more 'industrial' applications are grouped into 4 categories: Hardened Managed (3 of 17 series with PoE), Hardened Unmanaged (5 of 13 series with PoE), Non-Hardened Managed (0 of 4 series with PoE), and Non-Hardened Unmanaged (4 of 12 series with PoE). Each series provides one or more 'flavors' customizing fiber connectivity options (single-mode vs. multi-mode, SC/ST/FC connector types and distance requirements).

The company, with 51 total PoE switches, offers a high degree of flexibility in configuring switch features, environmental, and chassis options:

  • 4, 8, and 16 access 10/100 port versions
  • 100Base FX up to 20 Km, and 1000Base LX up to 40 km fiber ports
  • GigE Combo Ports
  • Managed, Un-Managed and Web-Smart
  • Class II, III, and PoE+ (802.3at) capabilities
  • Hardened and Non-Hardened; DIN-Rail and rack-mount
  • Up to -40 to 75 degree operating temperature ranges

EtherWAN switches should be considered in transportation, and other industrial applications where adverse environmental conditions (temperature, dust, moisture etc.) may present a challenge, DIN-Rail mounting is used, and fiber based connectivity must be supported.

The non-hardened/unmanaged EX17008 is priced at MSRP $260. The unit comes in a desktop form factor providing eight (8) 10/100 ports (each port supporting 15.4W PoE), and features EtherWAN's Web-Smart management capabilities.

The hardened/managed EX78401-01B retails at $950, and provides four (4) 10/100 ports (each port supporting 15.4W PoE) and one (1) GigE Combo Port (SFP/1000BaseT). For 4x times the PoE port density (16 10/100 ports + 1 GigE Combo port) and similar hardened/managed capabilities the EX76401-01T has an MSRP about twice that of the 4 port PoE model at $1910.

The fully managed offerings support a robust set of open standards networking features such as STP/RSTP, IGMP snooping, 802.1x, SNMP, and 802.1Q VLAN trunking and would be appropriate for more advanced networking environments. The unmanaged category actually consists of Web-Smart and Un-managed models. The Web-Smart versions support a very nominal set of features (port based VLANs representing the most useful), while the unmanaged models have no configurability at all. Simple standalone deployments or network environments not requiring the redundancy services of STP/RTSP should consider the lower cost unmanaged switches. 

Overview: Garrettcom Hardened PoE Switches for IP Video

Garrettcom's Magnum 6K line is a family of managed industrial Ethernet switches comprised of 13 different chassis types. Each of the chassis types are highly configurable with numerous available modules. The modules provide customization options for various fiber and copper types and densities, as well as PoE ports.

The 13 chassis types and their configurable PoE densities are as follows:

  • 6K32F has 4 slots, three available for PoE (MSRP $1150)
  • 6K32FC has 4 slots, three available for PoE (MSRP $1250)
  • 6K32T has 2 slots, any module in any slot  (MSRP $1300)
  • 6K32TRC has 2 slots, any module in any slot (MSRP $1450)
  • 6K25 has 3 slots for any module (except double Gb and fixed Gb modules) and one D-slot for GBIC only (MSRP $950)
  • 6K25e has 4 slots, three available for PoE     
  • 6K16V has 2 slots, any module in any slot      
  • 6K16 has 2 slots, any module in any slot       
  • 6K8 has 1 slot, any module         
  • 6KQE has 1 slot available for PoE
  • 6KQ6KL and 6KM have 2 slot available for PoE

The 6K32F base chassis (MSRP $1150) can support a maximum of three (3) 8-port PoE modules (P6KP8-RJ45 -- MSRP $600) for a total 24-port 10/100 PoE at a price of $2950. Realistically an additional GigE uplink module would potentially drive the cost to $3500 to $3800 - compared to the Korenix JetNet 5728G-24P at $2200 this places Garrettcom, cost-wise, at the higher end.

The 6KQ, 6KQE, 6KL, and 6KM are smaller form factor chassis that support only 4-port PoE modules per available slot. For example the 6KLP-48VDC (MSRP $750) is a 4-port 10/100 PoE base unit that can accept one additional 4-port 10/100 PoE module (P6KL4-RJ45 -- MSRP $320). This yields a fully managed industrial-grade 8-port 10/100 PoE switch for $1070 - closer to $1700 with GigE uplink module added. Again compared to the equivalent Korenix and Planet 8-port 10/100 PoE + 2 GigE port offerings at $1000, Garrettcom's product is priced considerably higher.

Garrettcom's products appear to be suited for higher-end applications. The Magnum 6K base chassis comes loaded with a base MNS-6K software image that provides the managed 6K switches with a robust set of networking features - e.g. STP/RSTP, 802.1Q, IGMP Snooping, SNMP, Port Mirroring, Link Aggregation etc. The optional MNS-6K-SECURE software image provides all the features of MNS-6K, but adds a bundle of security related networking features - e.g., SSH, 802.1x, DHCP server, syslog etc.

Garrettcom also provides two (2) unmanaged fixed configuration PoE switches:

Both models provide 4-port 10/100 PoE, but the PES42 can be fitted with 100BaseFX fiber options. The unmanaged PES42H-48VDC retails for $315 and provides 4-port 10/100 PoE (no fiber options). The PS14H-48VDC has an MSRP $260.

Overview: Korenix's JetNet PoE Switches for IP Video

Korenix offers 11 series of industrial-grade PoE switches (22 total models) that can be considered for both 802.3af and 802.3at IP video applications. There are five broad categories that Korenix offers:

  • Industrial Managed Ethernet PoE Switch
  • Industrial Web-Managed Ethernet PoE Switch
  • Industrial Ethernet PoE Switch, Unmanaged
  • Industrial IP67 Unmanaged Ethernet PoE Switch
  • Industrial Grade 24VDC Input PoE

The Korenix portfolio of hardened PoE switches range in MSRP $195 (JetNet 3705 - unmanaged 5-port 10/100, 4-port PoE) to MSRP $2200 (JetNet 5728G-24P - managed 24 10/100 PoE+, with 4 GigE Combo ports).

Key Features:

  • 18 of 22 models are DIN-Rail Mount form factors and have no Gigabit Ethernet options (JetNet 5728G-24P, 5728G-16P, and 5720G-8P are 1RU and the 3706-RJ is wall-mount - all 4 models support GigE options)
  • Various temperature ranges available (-10 to 60C, -25 to 60C, -10 to 70C, -20 to 70c and -40 to 70)
  • 100BaseFX Single-mode (30Km) and Multi-mode (2Km) fiber options available (3705f, 3706f, and 4706f series)
  • Gigabit Ethernet Combo ports (1000BaseT/SFP) available only on the JetNet 5728G-24P, 5728G-16P, and 5720G-8P models. 5710G model provides two (2) 1000BaseT uplinks
  • 14 of 22 models support 802.3at (PoE+)
  • Managed switches support key features/standards such as STP/RSTP, IGMP Snooping, IGMP Querier, 802.1Q Trunks, SNMP, QoS, Port Mirroring, 802.1x etc. - exact feature set varies between managed switch models

Korenix PoE switches are highly price competitive to other hardened switch manufacturers. Their offerings include the key management features and generous PoE/PoE+ power budgets. For example the JetNet 4706 (managed 6-port 10/100 with 4 of the 6 ports providing PoE+) retails for $590. Moxa's EDS-P506A-4PoE, a six (6) 10/100 managed switch, supporting PoE+ on four (4) ports has online price of $1419.

Like many other hardened switch manufacturers, Korenix's offerings are of lower port densities (mostly 4 10/100 + 2 10/100 or 100BaseFX uplinks). The limited uplink capacity may pose a concern when less efficient codecs (such as MJPEG) are deployed in IP video applications across multiple ports. Korenix's 8 port and higher capacity switch offerings support GigE uplink options.

Overview: Moxa PoE Switches for IP Video

Moxa's PoE switch offerings are positioned for more environmentally harsh vertical markets, such as utilities, transportation, marine and industrial. There are three essential categories or SKU prefixes to consider:

  • EDS - DIN-Rail Mount form factor
  • IKS - Standard Rack Mount form factor (1RU) - 2 slots for modularity
  • TN - M12 type circular connectors for high vibration and shock environments

The portfolio consists of 5 series of switches supporting PoE (802.3af) and 2 series supporting PoE+ (802.3at). Four of the seven series of switches are managed and support open standards such as STP/RSTP, IGMP Snooping, port-based VLAN and 802.1Q VLAN trunking. The remaining three series of PoE switches are unmanaged and provide only the most basic set of switch features.

Some Key Highlights/Features:

  • Most Moxa PoE switches come in lower port densities e.g, 4, 6 and 8 port 10/100 -  the TN and modular IKS series chassis can be configured up to 16 and 24 port densities
  • Each model available in standard temp (0 to 60C) or wide temp (-40 to 75C) operating range
  • Chassis configurations provide options for various fiber based connectivity (SM vs MM, connector type and distance requirements)
  • DIN-Rail form-factor switches (EDS sku prefixes) only support 24/48 VDC power input

Moxa's switches should be considered when deploying IP video in harsher environmental conditions as there is a price premium for the various hardened switch regulatory approvals. For example, the EDS-P506A-4PoE, a six (6) 10/100 managed switch, supporting PoE+ on four (4) ports and no fiber options has online price of $1419. The extended temperature range model (EDS-P506A-4PoE -T) is $1615 online.

The unmanaged EDS-P206A-4PoE (online price $469), supports six (6) 10/100 ports (4 of which support  PoE+) is nearly $1000 less than its managed counterpart.

Overview: Moxa PoE Switches for IP Video

Planet's industrial-grade PoE switch portfolio consists of one (1) fully managed ISW-1022MPT (online price $999) and eight (8) Web-Smart models (lowest priced Web-Smart model: ISW-504PS at $249).

Key Features:

  • All models DIN-Rail form factor
  • No PoE+ (802.3at) supported on any model
  • Full 15.4W power budget across all PoE enabled ports
  • Web-Smart management provides 802.1Q Trunking
  • No STP/RTSP support in Web-Smart Models
  • All Web-Smart Models available in -10 to 60 or -40 to 75 operating temperature range (fully managed ISW-1022MPT rated at -40 to 75C)
  • All Web-Smart models are 4-port 10/100 PoE switches with either one (1) 10/100 or one (1) 100BaseFX fiber uplink option (SM, MM, or SFP)
  • Only the ISW-1022MPT model provides a GigE uplink capability via two (2) Combo Gigabit SFP ports

Planet's price competitiveness is on par with the Korenix brand industrial-grade switches.  Planet has about half the number of models as Korenix. The Planet ISW-1022MPT (online price $999) is a managed 8-port 10/100 PoE hardened switch best compared head-to-head against the 8-port PoE+ capable Korenix 5710G at MSRP $1120.  Both support key management features. The Korenix 5710G supports PoE+, while the Planet equivalent does not. However, the Planet ISW-1022MPT provides two (2) Combo ports for fiber or copper GigE uplink capability, while the Korenix model provides two (2) copper only 1000BaseT uplink ports.

Another interesting difference to point out: Planet's Web-Smart models support 802.1Q trunking but don't support STP/RTSP, whereas Korenix's Web-Managed models don't support 802.1Q but do provide STP/RTSP L2 redundancy protocols. When a layer 2 redundant switching topology is required for an IP video application, at a 'budget' price, then Korenix's Web-Managed switches provide the networking features required. Otherwise, consider Planet's 504PS for example, at $249 vs. Korenix's JetNet 3706 at $490 (similar 4-port PoE models).

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