I've been forced to use dell PC's and laptops at work for the last 4 years. My opinion of dell is not cynicism, it's experience. Dell sucks. Since PC's and laptops are their forte (or, are supposed to be) and they can't do that right, you wouldn't catch my buying their network appliances. It's not just dell, I wouldn't buy a network appliance from any company who does network appliances as an aside or afterthought.
It is a Catalyst "junior", a Cat Express 500. And, being a cisco device, it needs a significant amount of configuration before it works properly.
I'm not familiar with that model at all but if it's anything like the cisco products I've worked with it doesn't take any more configuration than any other managed switch. BUT, being a cisco it does mean it's a lot harder to configure than the majority of newer equipment. In fact, even though (as you already know) I'm not a fan of Dell, I suspect even their switch is easier to configure with a much nicer GUI.
I AM cynical about Cisco. They keep their equipment harder to configure in an attempt to force people to pay big bucks for their "Cisco Certifications" Even worse is how badly they gouge on service and support. Their gouging on support is one of the reasons we're moving away from Cisco. We've got a much better deal from the company supplying us with the Avaya (Nortel) products. Also, the equipment is just as good as Cisco but a whole lot easier to work with.
But I digress.................
As it turns out, moving the router/firewall to the Dell switch worked.
I'm glad to hear that. I suspected it might be the case. We've had issues in our environment too which is still a little mixed. I have one closet with two 3Com 4400's, and three closets with three Cisco 2900 XL's each. All the rest of my closets (there are 14 more her at our main location) which are all Nortel switches (including our dual redundant Nortel core switches). Avaya has bought out Nortel's network side of things but they're still the same switches. Anyhow, when connecting Cisco's to Nortels we found we had to disable Spanning Tree on them.
(Yes, given a chance, we would eliminate the Cisco switch and use the Dell, but that would require another 6 cat5 cables at many dollars each....you know how that goes...)
Why would you have to pull 6 more network cables? You can use a single network cable to uplink a switch. Just FYI, the average rate around here, and what I would charge, is about $150.00/drop (cable). That's terminated, tested and certified. So you could get 6 for around $1000.00 or slightly less.
It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.