Progress report... Yesterday was “the day of the network” around here. I'm in the process of bringing up a network that is capable of handling both clients and servers in two buildings (our home and our barn), with a decent firewall, WiFi over the better part of an acre (between the two buildings), and the ability to connect over point-to-point links to several locations where I will want remote sensors (spring, well house, greenhouse, weather station, cameras, etc., etc.).
My network design includes two routers (identical MikroTik RB2011UIAS-IN units), three WiFi access points (provided by TrendNet TEW-812DRU units), two 20 port switches (using Cisco SG300-20 units), and a cable modem for our Comcast connection (which may not be a permanent arrangement (a Arris TG862G unit). The point-to-point links will come up later; I'm planning to implement those with various pieces of Ubiquiti kit – highly recommended by a friend who runs a wireless ISP and won't use anything else. The only one of these I was familiar with was the Cisco switch; everything else I needed to learn.
Yesterday I brought up the MikroTik routers and the TrendNet WiFi routers. In both cases I used nothing but the web configuration GUIs, and in both cases it was quite straightforward. The MikroTik's capabilities are particularly impressive – at 10x the price I'd still be impressed, but for sub-$200 it borders on incredible. I struggled for a while because I'm so used to Cisco's IOS that I couldn't believe configuration of the MikroTik could be as simple and straightforward as it was. Cisco has built a substantial business around training and certifying IOS experts. MikroTik seems to take another approach: let's make it so easy that even a complete idiot could do this. I like MikroTik's approach :)
Today I'm bringing up the Cisco switches. I'm going to configure them to have two completely separated VLANs (no routing between them on the switch) so that I can control all the routing on the MikroTik routers (where it's far easier). Hopefully that won't prove to be too difficult. I've already got console connectivity, which is a prerequisite that has been challenging in the past. This time it was easy :)