Switches

When it comes to developing a solid understanding about networking, the two most important networking devices that help in the smooth and seamless working of a network system are routers and switches.

Network Switch—What Is It?

Switches in a network are typically used to attach and interconnect multiple devices within a campus or building on the same network. Such as, while using a switch, you can easily connect printers, servers and PCs together, thereby creating a strong and interconnected network of shared resources. Switches basically function as controllers. They control various devices to communicate with each other and share information. Resource allocation and information sharing that is only possible over the network with switches help users save money and time and increase productivity significantly. Network switches are also referred to as bridging hubs, MAC bridge and switching hub.

Types of Switches

The 2 basic types of switches are:

Unmanaged

Unmanaged switches do not allow users to make changes. In other words, they don’t give you the power to control. An unmanaged network switch basically allows Ethernet networking devices to interconnect and communicate with each other like your PC or printer which are also known as the plug & play devices. Unmanaged switches come with a fixed configuration, therefore users can’t configure them.

Managed

On the other hand, managed features as the name suggests, give excellent control to users over the LAN traffic. It offers cutting edge features to control the LAN traffic. Just like unmanaged switches that enable you to connect and create a communication network between devices, managed switches also do that and more. With managed switches, users also have the ability and power to manage, monitor and configure LAN giving users excellent control over how your data moves and travels over the network. Additionally, you also get the power to authorise people who can access the data.

Managed networking switches utilize protocols like SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) for device monitoring on the network. SNMP facilitates smooth and secure exchange of management information between devices on the network. Simple Network Management Protocol queries are used to identify and determine the network’s health and device status. This data helps IT managers located at a central site to monitor network performance and both quickly pinpoint problems and repair them easily.

Middle to large sized LANs contains several of linked managed switches. Though managed switches are slightly more expensive as compared to unmanaged switches, a managed switch is offers good value for the price charged. It comes with additional features like virtual LANs, port mirroring, redundancy and excellent service quality. Quality of service enables users to prioritize your network traffic as you can assign high priority to critical traffic. This is much needed to ensure consistent and proper network performance. Besides this, it can also support delay sensitive data for example real time voice.

Redundancy, on the other hand, provides the network safeguarding facility in case a cable or connection fails. This is done by providing an alternate traffic or data path while port mirroring helps diagnose networking problems.

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