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How to Choose a Gigabit Network Switch?

Gigabit network switch is the most commonly used equipment in data centers. Before choosing the best network switch for the current or future network, people can type “Ethernet switch” into the online shopping site or search engine, they may find a ton of listings for switches of all kinds and price levels. It’s not an easy job to find one. Then how to choose a Gigabit network switch in order to avoid buying the wrong device or overspending needlessly?

Gigabit network switch is widely used

Figure: Gigabit network switch is widely used.

Types of Gigabit Network Switch

Gigabit Ethernet switch can be divided into unmanaged, managed and PoE categories.

Unmanaged switches use the plug-and-play design that means they only allow Ethernet devices to communicate with one another. They are shipped with fixed configuration and don’t allow any changes to this configuration. This type of network switch is normally found in home networks or small business.

Managed switches offer all the features of unmanaged switches and are capable of configuring, managing and monitoring one’s LAN. Users have greater control over how data travels over the network and decide which one has access to it.

PoE switches support electrical power and data transmission over one network cable, which will greatly simplify the cabling process. Using a PoE switch, people don’t need to worry about power outlet when deploying network devices.

Features of Gigabit Network Switch

With a network switch, users can have different networked devices on their desks as well as bandwidth-intensive applications that require high rates of data transmission and no tolerance for congestion. These switches are the basics of modern wired network. They can not only provide the connections to PCs and other devices in a wide variety of fields, but also support the cloud storage of servers. With new trends like SDN and the IoT transforming the industry, people have to get the features that they need from the switches, so that they would know which switch is the one that they need.

How to Choose a Gigabit Network Switch?

Here are the most important facts you should consider when choosing a Gigabit network switch.

  • Choose the role of the switch. If you are just looking for a device to extend your wired network at home, one unmanaged switch is suitable. And an 8 port Ethernet switch or 12 port switch is enough for home network. If you want to find a switch for a large network, you may buy one or more managed switches acting as core switches. 24 port and 48 port PoE managed switches are the right choice.
  • Choose the forwarding rate of the switch. Gigabit switches have different processing rate. Processing and forwarding data rates are very important. The processing rate becomes lower, the forwarding rate will be slower. This may make the switch unable to accommodate full wire-speed communication across all the ports. So people should figure out what forwarding rate they need before buying a Gigabit switch.

Conclusion

From the above, we know how to choose a Gigabit network switch. If you have decided to buy a network switch, welcome to visit FS.COM. FS has a good selection of 10Gb switch, 40G or even 100G switch and PoE switch for home and office users.

What Is a Core Switch and Why Do We Need It?

Network switches are categorized into different types according to different principles, such as fixed switch and modular switch based if you can add expansion module to it, and managed switch, smart switch and unmanaged/dumb switch depending on whether you can configure it and the complexity of the configuration. Another way to classify the type of a network switch is by the role it plays in a local area network (LAN). In this case, one switch is considered to be an access switch, an aggregation/distribution switch or a core switch. In small networks we do not see core switch. So many people are having questions about what core switches are. Do you know what is core switch? Is there only one core switch in a network? What are the differences between core switch and aggregation/access switch?

What Is Core Switch?

If we spend some time looking up dictionaries for the meaning of core switch, we will find a definition similar to “A core switch is a high-capacity switch generally positioned within the backbone or physical core of a network. Core switches serve as the gateway to a wide area network (WAN) or the Internet—they provide the final aggregation point for the network and allow multiple aggregation modules to work together (An excerpt from Techpedia).” The definition explains its high-capacity feature, the physical location and its function of connecting multiple aggregation devices in network.

What Are the Differences Between Core Switch and Other Switches?

The biggest difference between core switch and other switches is that, core switch is required to always be fast, highly available and fault tolerant since it connects all the aggregation switches. Therefore, a core switch should be a fully-managed switch. But if it is a switch not used in the core layer, it can be a smart switch or an unmanaged switch.

Another difference is that, the core switch is not always needed in a LAN while we may often have the aggregation switch and the access switch. Because in small networks that have only a couple of servers and a few clients, there’s no actual demand for a core switch vs aggregation switch. In the scenario where we don’t need the core layer, we often call it a collapsed core or collapsed backbone since the core layer and the aggregation layer are combined.

The third difference is that there’s generally only one (or two for redundancy) core switch used in a small/midsize network, but the aggregation layer and the access layer might have multiple switches. The figure below shows where the core switch locates in a network.

Core switch in the core layer

What Should Be Kept in Mind When Using Core Switch?

The first thing we should keep in mind is that core switch is urgently required in two occasions. One occasion is when the access switches are located in different places and there is a aggregation switch in each place, then we need a core switch to optimize the network. Another occasion is when the number of the access switches connecting to a single aggregation switch exceeds the performance of it, and we need to use multiple aggregation switches in a single location, then the use of core switch can reduce the complexity of the network.

With core switch and without core switch

As for specific type and number of core switch that we should adopt in a network, that depends on the scale and budget of our network, including how many servers, clients or lower layers switches we have. For example, say that a small network has 100 users and has 6 48-port Gigabit aggregation switches, a suitable core switch will be like Juniper EX2200, Cisco SG300, or FS.COM S5800-8TF12S 10GbE switch.

The second thing is that a core switch should be fully-managed, which means it should support different method of management, such as web-based management, command line interface and SNMP management. Also it should have some advanced features like support for IPv6, built-in Quality of Service (QoS) controls, Access Control Lists (ACLs) for network security.

And generally the connections to the core layer should be the highest possible bandwidth. In addition, since the core switch act as the center of a LAN, it should be able to reach any devices in the network, not directly but within the routing table. A core switch is usually connected to the WAN router.

Conclusion

In the design of a network, there might be access layer, aggregation layer and core layer. Though the core layer is not required in smaller networks, it is indispensable in medium/large networks. And the high-capacity core switch plays an important role in delivering frames/packets as fast as possible in the center of the network. Its contribution can not be underestimated especially in networks where speed, scalability and reliability are key to users.

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