In order to choose the best switch for your network, it’s important to understand the fundamental differences between varying kinds of switches. The most striking difference is that of managed switches vs. unmanaged switches. Both kinds are useful in their right domain, but getting the wrong kind of switch can seriously hinder your network’s performance or scalability
Networking hardware companies such as Cisco make networking a much more fluid endeavour. For example, it is easy to monitor cisco switches even on within a large-scale network, but sometimes unmanaged switches are sufficient. In layperson’s terms, an unmanaged switch will allow you to increase your network (to a certain extent) without the need for specialist networking expertise.
A not-so-small misconception about small businesses
Managed switches are not just for big companies and corporations. In fact, many small businesses rely on products such as the 300 Series for advanced security management as well as its network features. In addition to exemplary service, there’s also the benefit of Layer 3 static routing and Layer 3 static routing.
The need for speed
Selecting the right speed for your network is a huge factor when deciding on which switch to go with. Things start off very modestly with 10 Mbps (megabits per second), which is generally only used for intranet and email networks.
Next up is a network transfer speed of 100 Mbps. Also known as “Fast Ethernet”, this network is designed for relatively small file transfers (up to 150 MB per file) and, like the 10 Mbps connection, is wired using RJ45 sockets.
Things start to get serious at 1,000 Mbps (which is fittingly known as “Gigabit Ethernet”). At this level, you can transfer large files (such as video files), but there are still some limitations, including still being wired on RJ45 sockets.
Finally, there are connections of 10,000 Mbps (10 Gbps), which is also known as 10GBASE-T. At this level, the equipment is wired using a system known as an SFP module. Suffice to say that this thing is a beast. It is designed with corporate networks in mind.
However, things don’t stop there! If you’re really looking for some insane bandwidth, you can look into 100,000 Mbps (100 Gbps) and beyond! Such speeds are often achieved by fibre-optic transfer technology, including the use of 100GBASE-SR4 for up to 100 metres, or 100GBASE-LR4 for up to 40 km.
The security–convenience trade-off
Most of us make this trade-off every day without really thinking too much about it. Fundamentally, there is a spectrum of security which we trade-off for convenience. On the low end, for example, we could have a server or terminal with the password scribbled on a sticky note stuck on the monitor. On the high end, we have multi-factor authentication (think Maxwell Smart). This could include a combination of something you know, something you have, and something you are.
The more components you have, the more secure your system will be; conversely, the more secure a system is, the more inconvenient your system will be. How far you are willing to go should be directly correlated to the importance of the data and system that you want to protect.