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LAN & WAN Reviews

STP

Some features included on the GS724TR that you won't find on its less expensive siblings are support for 802.1w Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), Dual Image capability for file and configuration management, and Syslog, Ping and Traceroute tools for troubleshooting.

Standard STP (802.1d) is supported by the GS724T and GS724AT, as well as the GS724TR.  The advantage of Rapid STP (802.1w) is faster convergence in the event of link failure.  Spanning Tree Protocol is used to prevent switch loops when redundant inter-switch connections between switches exist.  The downside with standard STP is it takes nearly a minute to recover in the event an inter-switch connection fails.  With Rapid STP, recovery in the event an inter-switch connection fails is 10 seconds or less.

All Spanning Tree Protocol is off by default on the GS724TR.  It has to be enabled and applied by clicking the appropriate radio buttons, displayed below in Figure 12.

Spanning Tree Protocol Configuration

Figure 12: Spanning Tree Protocol Configuration

Other Features

Configuration and firmware maintenance is enhanced on the GS724TR via the dual image feature.  A new firmware can be loaded to one image, keeping the old firmware on the other image as a fallback.  I didn't use the dual image feature, but I did upgrade the switch to the latest firmware version available on Netgear's website, version 3.0.3, and had no problems.

Another interesting aspect of the GS724TR file management is that changes to the configuration have to be activated and saved to persist through a reboot, shown below in Figure 13.  Changes to the configurations are immediately applied and active, but if you reboot without saving them, you lose them.  (It's kind of like copy run start for Cisco users.)

I thought this was a hassle, but I realized the value while testing the routing functionality and accidentally disabling the management interface.  Rebooting erased my unsaved configurations and restored the management interface, thankfully!

Save Configuration

Figure 13: Save Configuration

One minor issue I ran into, even after I learned about applying changes, was that the SNTP feature for using a network time source would not persist through a reboot, even if I saved the configurations.  This meant I had to keep reconfiguring the device to use SNTP instead of its local clock source every time I rebooted it.

Useful network troubleshooting tools, especially on a switch that has routing capability, are basic ping and traceroute.  Note that to use the traceroute tool to a URL, you need to manually enter the IP address of a DNS server, as the GS724TR doesn't populate that field from a DHCP offering.

To control access to the switch, GS724TR Management Access can be secured via either a RADIUS or TACACS+ server.  The GS724TR also supports standard 802.1x authentication for port-based access control.

To control traffic through the switch, basic rules can be created to filter traffic based on source or destination MAC address using the Traffic Control menu for constructing MAC filters.  More advanced Access Control Lists (ACLs) can be constructed to filter traffic based on source or destination MAC addresses or IP, as well as Layer 4 ports for sophisticated traffic control.

QoS

QoS can be applied in the GS724TR based on Layer 2 802.1q headers or Layer 3 IP headers using CoS or DSCP values.  The default setting on the GS724TR is to trust CoS values received on all ports, which means frames received with 802.1q headers will be prioritized and/or queued based on the CoS values.  Individual ports can also be set to untrusted.  If you select untrusted, all frames received on that port will be given the priority assigned to that port in the PVID menu.

Figure 14 shows the shaping configuration menu on the GS724TR.  Here you can adjust the interface trust mode, as well as apply traffic shaping per port.  A value of 16 to 16384 is assigned, which allocates a multiple of 64 kb of bandwidth to each port.  A value of 16 would allocate 1 Mb of bandwidth (16x64=1,024).  A value of 16384 would allocate 1000 Mb of bandwidth (16384x16=1,048,576).  A value of 0 (=default) turns shaping off on that port.

QoS Cos Configuration

Figure 14: QoS Cos Configuration

Queuing can also be configured.  Figure 15 shows the queue-bandwidth configuration screen.  There are eight egress queues per port, and CoS values 0-7 can be mapped to each of these eight queues for allocating bandwidth and controlling priority. 

In the Interface Queue Configuration screen shown, selecting a Queue ID and assigning a value of 0-100 will allocate 0-100% of that port's bandwidth to a specific traffic type.

QoS Queue Configuration

Figure 15: QoS Queue Configuration

As you can also see in Figure 15, each queue can be configured for strict or weighted queuing.  Strict queuing means frames in the highest priority queue get transmitted until the queue is emptied.  Weighted means weighted round robin (WRR) queuing where each queue gets assigned a relative weight defining its priority for transmission.  WRR allows for prioritization of latency sensitive traffic without "starving" lower priority traffic.  The GS724TR has default mappings of CoS values to each egress queue which can be modified in the 802.1p to Queue Mapping configuration menu.

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