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Why do need to use of switches in networking? Networking, at its core, is about what works best for your situation. With this in mind, there is no correct way to construct a network when it comes to the increasing complexity of your multi-device networking framework.
The fact of the matter is that the more devices you will need to use, the more it can complicate how your data center’s network operates.
That being said, there are so many ways to create a more seamless network for your devices, servers, and personnel to create the optimal working environment.
Have a look at what switches have to offer and see if they are the right option for your data center and its operations.
The Function Of A Switch
Switches are but one bit of tech that can facilitate this transition to a more seamless network, especially as your data center grows. There are many networks out there that will require switches to operate optimally, and there are networks out there that think they need a switch when they don’t.
Needing a switch falls down to the functionality of what they do, so let’s briefly cover that.
A network switch can also be known as a MAC bridge, the IEEE, switching hub, or bridging hub, to cover the most common alternative names. They are responsible for connecting devices to a network and then forwarding packets to and from those devices. Switches are most commonly used in LAN networks.
The scope for handling a slew of different devices connecting to one network expands tenfold by using a switch as part of your networking solution.
Under The Hood
When it comes to the components that make a switch possible, there are various. In fact, in many switch brands, there can be thousands of individual components that can be broken down to the individual chip components. But for the sake of simplicity, we will just cover the main assembly components.
The bread and butter is of course the chassis which contains all the components. The chassis can come in a variety of different colors and assembly options. We then have the power supply, fan, and fan controller PCBA which are all fairly self-explanatory for their function.
Moving on we have the main switchboard itself. This consists of multiple different components in and of themselves that make the switchboard what it is. Including but not limited to components like the Complex Programmable Logic Devices (CPLDs) and in the event of RJ45 interfaces, PHYs.
The final and crucial component that makes a switchboard is of course the CPU PCBA. These central processing units contain the PCIe, Flash, and RAM that run the switch operating system. The CPU in a switchboard is Power PC, ARM-based, or x86 based processors.
A huge benefit that switches offer is their ability to perform to scale for operations of all sizes. They can be used in unison with a number of individual switches working together to handle large workloads.
If you are handling transactional data for local stores you can use one, maybe two switches. For much larger networking workloads used by enterprise data centers, you can have the full 12 rack unit (typically a 12RU is the most a switch will be able to/have to be scaled).
For those who have an understanding of the workloads that they are going to have to deal with, the scalability capabilities of a switch offer the flexibility to handle varied workloads accordingly.
Scalability offers the opportunity to budget accordingly and create a data center framework that handles your specific workloads. Switches make it easy to move up and down in scale accordingly, all while providing reliable networking.
So, now that we understand the tech;
Why They Can Get Overlooked
Switches are often overlooked with data centers opting for their much more popular big brother – the router. That’s not to say that switches aren’t hugely beneficial to data-intensive operations. If utilized properly they can provide essential and reliable performance.
Often it’s a case of ‘I don’t want a switch because routers are better’ without considering the actual benefits that a switch may offer. Routers do offer additional extras that switches don’t but sometimes it’s worth considering whether they are needed.
For example, here are two options:
- A switch that is specifically tailored to audio/video workloads
- A mid-market router tailored to general data workloads
They cost the same. And while yes, the router may offer some superior traffic management and scalability, consider your operation. A data center that handles a lot of CCTV footage would be much better off with the switch options that can be scaled up to meet workload demands for less.
Switches offer reliability, the necessary performance, security, and can accommodate software with an easy-to-use interface. While routers sometimes offer more, it’s not always essential additions for specific workloads.
Why Should I Use It?
As with any piece of tech, there are pros and cons. You can certainly leverage the use of a switch because:
- They can increase the performance of the network
- They increase the available bandwidth of the network
- Due to the fact switches create collision domains for every connection, they will cause fewer frame collisions on the network.
- They reduce the workload of the individual devices using the network
- They can be deployed on any scale with most switches possessing the ability to work in multiple rack units
However, there are some technical drawbacks to using switches such as not being as good as routers for limiting broadcasts, and broadcast traffic can become an issue. They also tend to make it more difficult to trace any network connectivity issues that might arise. Lastly, they can make a network vulnerable when in promiscuous mode to attacks such as capturing ethernet frames or spoofing IP addresses.
Budget can also play a role, as switches tend to be a more expensive option for networking solutions. However, ETB Technologies have an excellent range of switches available for consideration.
In any case, best of luck with your switch networking!
Thank you for reading!