Ethernet is one of the communication protocols used in computer networks. Ethernet is used to transfer data within a wired network; and controls how data is transferred, and how various devices in a particular part of the network access and communicate with each other.
Accordingly, an Ethernet switch is required to create a network connection between the different devices in the network so that they can talk to each other. It also deciphers the addressing convention for the data packets and will send each data packet only to its destination port and reduce the number of data collisions that happen when data is being sent at the same time.
Ethernet switches are critical to the functioning and performance of a network. They provide the connection between computers, servers, printers, various devices, storage and the data center in an enterprise. Accordingly, choosing the right Ethernet switch for your enterprise becomes an important IT consideration. They must factor current and future needs as well as new paradigms such as SDN and IOT
- SDN: Software Defined Networking provides a dynamic, flexible and affordable architecture for networks, thereby reducing the load on Ethernet switches.
- IOT: Internet of Things helps machines communicate with each other and takes data traffic within the enterprise to the next level.
So what are the considerations that go while choosing the right Ethernet switch? While this can vary depending on the organization concerned, the following are important:
- Speed: If data is the crux of future business, data transfer speed is its lifeline. Even though the present environment doesn’t demand such speeds, enterprises are already shifting to speeds of 1 Gbps. This is because newer devices such as WLAN access points, newer IOT based sensors or machinery. Further, softwares like video-conferencing, VR and AR will hog more bandwidth, so it’s good to future-proof your enterprise with higher speeds.
- Density: The world, and the enterprise is increasingly going wireless. In most companies, laptops have already replaced desktops at the workspace. Mobile devices and IOT-based devices will further increase the traffic on WLAN access points. The increase in access points automatically increases the number, or density, of Ethernet ports. So the switch must accordingly factor a higher density.
- Power over Ethernet: If one looks around a modern workplace, the number of power cables have reduced significantly. Power is instead being drawn over Ethernet wires and connections. VoIP phones, WLAN access points, remote devices and IOT-based devices will only continue this trend. Accordingly, the switch chosen must be capable of handling more power consumption and heat dissipation due to the higher levels of switching.
- Software Defined Networking: Keeping with the evolution of business and networking, SDN has introduced new paradigms and concepts into networking such as OpenFlow routing, VXLAN and NVGRE for virtualized networks and NetConf for creating remote management APIs. The Ethernet switch chosen must accordingly be SDN-ready so that provisioning and configuration of devices into the network is quick and efficient.
Choosing the right Ethernet switch for your enterprise is not a very daunting decision but one that requires due diligence anyway. Engage with a professional vendor who can advise on all aspects of your network and help you make an informed decision.