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Getting Started with Cisco’s 500 Series SMB Switches

Did you know you could get a very good Cisco switch less than $1000? You can with the Cisco Small Business 500 series switches. A rack mountable and stackable managed switch. A Catalyst 2960 can costs around $2000!

*Prices quoted from CDW at the post’s published date.

There’s no catch here. It’s a feature-rich switch. Comparable to a Cisco Catalyst 2960 – the next step up from the 500 series – the biggest differences I see are:

  • CLI – TextView
    • Not quite IOS but the commands are very much the same.
  • Marvell silicon
    • Not the Cisco manufactured silicon.

For a small and medium business, the Cisco 500 series switches are great. It’s a stackable up to 8 switches and is capable of doing 10 Gigabit. Those are features required for a growing SMB. But in this post I will be focusing on getting it up and running.

Cisco Small Business 500 Series Switch

To get the Cisco SMB 500 switch online, you can either begin configuring the device through a serial console cable or allow the switch to acquire a DHCP address.

I’ll start the configuration at the command line. First thing to notice is, the switch doesn’t use IOS. It uses a very similar command line called TextView. The commands are almost identical, maybe even the same.

The default username and password of the Cisco 500 switch is cisco / cisco.

Here’s my initial configuration to enable network connectivity:

switchad0a6e#conf t
switchad0a6e(config)#vlan 101
switchad0a6e(config)#int vlan 101
switchad0a6e(config-if)#ip address 172.21.101.254 255.255.255.0
Please ensure that the port through which the device is managed has the proper
settings and is a member of the new management interface.
Would you like to apply this new configuration? (Y/N)[N] Y
SW-A(config)#interface fe1/2/1
SW-A(config-if)#switchport mode trunk
SW-A(config-if)#switchport trunk native vlan 101
SW-A(config-if)#ip default-gateway 172.21.101.1
SW-A(config-if)#do sh int status
 Flow Link Back Mdix
Port Type Duplex Speed Neg ctrl State Pressure Mode
-------- ------------ ------ ----- -------- ---- ----------- -------- -------
fa1/2/1 100M-Copper Full 100 Enabled Off Up Disabled On
fa1/2/2 100M-Copper -- -- -- -- Down -- --
fa1/2/3 100M-Copper -- -- -- -- Down -- --
fa1/2/4 100M-Copper -- -- -- -- Down -- --

Network connectivity is verified through some pings and now let’s dive into the web interface.

Web Interface for Cisco 500 SMB Switch

Cisco 500 Series Web Login Interface

The first page you see, after logging in, is the Getting Started page where you can make common changes to the switch.

Getting Started Section

The Getting Started Section

Quick Access Section

Any other setting is sectioned off on the left navigation. As you can see, this SMB switch packs a lot of features. The same features you would see on the Catalyst line of switches. When you do make a change, it is not saved automatically. At the top right of the screen you will see a blinking red X next to the Save text. Be sure to always save your configuration.

The Navigation Menu and Save Menu

The System Summary gives us a high level overview of the switch. Some of the important items are the stack mode and system operational mode. By default, the Cisco 500 starts in Layer 2 (L2) mode. You have your uptime, services enabled/disabled, firmware version, and PoE consumption.

There’s also a nice graphical interface of your switch (or switches) with their active ports. One of the best features is the capabilities to stack up to 8 switches. The graphic will display the stack in order as Units and will tell you which switch is the Master.

System Summary

Summary of the current switch stack – Only one switch at the moment

You may have noticed the GUI is using regular port 80 to manage the switch. Let’s enable secure management by enabling HTTPS and SSH. In the left Navigation, expand Security and click on TCP/UDP Services. Enable HTTPS.

Services

If you need to modify the Management interface you can do so by expanding Administration, expand Management Interface, and click on IPv4 Interface.

Change the Management VLAN, IP address type, and gateway. The click on Apply.

IP Addressing

System Mode and Stack Management is an important area to take note of. Depending on how you configured the stacking cables you will see what kind of stack topology is being used. The stack master will also be identified – which is also identified as a green LED on the physical switch.

If you’re having trouble configuring routing then take note of the System Mode the switch is currently running in. You’ll want L3 mode if you need routing.

Configuring the System and Stack Mode

That’s an introduction to the Cisco Small Business 500 Switch. It packs a lot of features. I barely even knew about the Cisco 500 series switch. Whenever I needed a small switch I always purchased the Catalyst 2960. The 500 Small Business switch is priced right for SMBs when a Catalyst 2960 is just out of the budget range. It shares a lot of the same features as a Catalyst 2960:

  • Stacking
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE)
  • Quality of Service (QoS)
  • Spanning Tree
  • IPv6
  • ACLs
  • Has Layer 3 capabilities
  • And more…

In related posts I will look into other detailed configuration settings. Be on the lookout for my guest post on Cisco’s blog.

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