Different Types of Switches
Networking switches vary widely depending on the number of devices they can support, network bandwidth/speed, and form factor. Switches for small offices will have anything between 4 and 8 ports and can fit on a desk. For larger office network implementation, switches may have 24 ports, 48 ports, 96 ports, and 128 ports and are rack-mountable between 1U and 4U. Switches come in different types depending on the network speed and tasks they support. These include 40/100 Gbps, 10 Gigabit (up to 10000 Mbps), Gigabit Ethernet (up to 1000 Mbps), Power over Ethernet, and Fast Ethernet (10/100 Mbps).
The unmanaged switches offer fixed configuration on a plug-and-play basis. It is the most basic switch and there are a few choices in the market. These switches are affordable, but the basic features make them inappropriate for enterprise applications.
The number of features and level of functionality improves with managed switches, making them ideal for enterprise and business applications. These switches are built with the command-line interface for ease of configuration. Equally, they support SNMP agents that come in handy when troubleshooting network issues.
The security on managed switches is better and will protect different types of traffic. Other features include support for virtual LANs, IP routing, and quality of service settings. Managed switches are more expensive compared to all other types of switches.
Smart switches refer to switches that possess more features than those of unmanaged switches but do not have the full features of managed switches. Smart switches are more cost-effective than managed switches.
Some of the limitations of the smart switches are a lack of telnet access support, Web GUIs, and a lack of many features for VLANs. They are affordable compared to a fully managed switch and are suitable for a smaller computer network.
Modular switches allow the addition of expansion modules as the network expands. The expansion modules allow for more networked devices but are application-specific. They may include wireless access points, firewalls, or network analysis tools. The flexibility of a modular networking switch comes at a higher cost.