Role of Switched Networks

A few years ago the flat Layer 2 switched networks were the standard. Flat Layer 2 data networks work on the basic principles of Ethernet and the common use of hub and repeaters to broadcast LAN traffic throughout a campus. As shown in Figure 1, networks have primarily changed to switched LANs in a hierarchical network. A switched LAN allows traffic management, more flexibility, and extra features, such as:

  • QoS
  • Wireless network connectivity and support
  • IP telephony and mobility services
  • Additional security

Fixed Configuration Switches

Form Factors

Business networks use different types of switches about, the common business needs the right switched equipment choice is a very important factor.  Selecting the type of switch the network administrator and designer must select a modular or fixed configuration as well as stackable or non-stackable. The physical installation is also an important consideration of the switch. The thickness of the switch also decides where to install the switch. We can install the switch in a rack or in a cabinet. These options are sometimes called switch form factors. I am going to explain the form factor below:-

Fixed Configuration Switches

Fixed Configuration switches are switches with a fixed number of ports and are normally not expandable. These switches do not support features or options further than those that originally came with the switch. The switch model determines the features and options available. Such as, if you have a 16-port gigabit fixed switch, you cannot add additional ports when you need them. This category is discussed in further detail below. Cisco Catalyst 2K, 3K, and the Cisco 300/500 series are good examples of Fixed Configuration switches. The further categories of fixed configuration switches are the following:-

  • Unmanaged Switches
  • Smart Switches
  • Managed L2 and L3 Switches

Modular Configuration Switches

Modular switches are expendable switches comes with different sized chassis which allow a different number of modular line cards inside the chassis. The modular switches also offer more flexibility in their configuration. If you have a 24 port modular switch you can easily expand the switch to 48 port.  

Stackable Configuration Switches

A stackable switch is a switch that is the completely functional operating standalone but which can also be set up to work jointly with another switch in a group. This group of switches will show the characteristics of a single switch but have the port capacity of the sum of all switches. We can connect Stackable switches using a special cable that provides high-bandwidth throughput between these switches. The Cisco Stack Wise Technology allows the interconnection of nine switches in the group. These stacked switches also work as a single larger switch.

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