With decreased expenses within the 10Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) network realm and increased data traffic within the business world, there has been a dramatic uptake and demand for 10Gb switches. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to find an 8-port, 12-port, 24-port or 48-port 10GbE switch on the market. With so many choices available, some business owners and managers are having trouble making a decision.
As a business implementing a 10G-compliant network core, you will avoid network congestion in a busy environment, improving employee productivity and reduce response time for customers. A 10Gb switch is the first choice for latency sensitive applications that depend on network performance and reliability. While purchasing a 10GbE switch, it is critical you pay close attention to the following.
Managed or Unmanaged Switch
A managed 10Gb switch brings to your business virtual local area networks (VLANs), Quality of Service (QoS) and network traffic monitoring. In addition, you can manage all these services from a web browser without downloading any software. These types of switches also include traffic control, monitoring (SNMP), access security and static routing, making them ideal for small to medium business with 200 or less users.
On the other hand, unmanaged switches are relatively easy to setup and bring you simple connectivity without requiring management. All you need to do is choose the number of ports you require for your application, plug it in and connect your devices.
Port Density and Speed
When purchasing a 10Gb switch, you also need to take into consideration the speed of other ports besides the 10gbase-t copper. In most cases, 10Gb switches also have 10GbE SFP+ ports, and the port numbers vary with different vendors.
If you have too few ports in your switch and lack enough capacity, the device will prove ineffective; but one that is too large for your needs will also be a waste of money. When choosing the switch, make sure that you have an extra port or two that will help with future demand. For example, a 48-port 10Gb switch with four qsfp+ ports will help meet the future requirements in an enterprise environment.
Your Power Budget
Power budget is another critical component that should be taken into consideration when purchasing your business’ switch. Some switch models on the market feature each port with its own overload, short circuit protection and LED indicators for power status.
Advances in switch technology have helped to bring down power consumption on 10G switch ports. Earlier versions of the switches consumed as much as 12 Watts per port, but modern ports are rated at around 1.5 to 4 Watts a port, depending on the distance covered. Always go for a switch that offers you low power consumption and low latency that remains fairly flat across all packet sizes.
Stackable or Standalone Switch
Its common practice for businesses to regularly upgrade and expand their networks, meaning that more switches will be needed to handle the growing number of networked devices. While deploying a standalone 10Gb switch, be aware that each switch is controlled individually. Furthermore, adding a new switch to the network is a complicated process.
For the reason above, it is best to use a standalone 10Gb switch if you are handling a small business network. Larger organizations are better off adopting a stackable 10Gb network switch, which will help in simplifying its management while increasing the reach of the network.
Choose the support level for your switch that offers you the help required in case of the worst-case possible scenario – without going overboard. To do this, you need to evaluate the importance of the switch in your network. Keep in mind that the more critical the switch is to your network, the more extensive support you will require.
Different vendors offer you different advanced support options that may include software updates and free lifetime support. In terms of support, check whether the vendor offers support during business hours only or 24 hours. In case of hardware replacement, does the vendor offer next business day advanced replacement or a standard shipping replacement service?
In terms of software, check whether firmware and upgrades are paid and if they are done annually or for the lifetime of the product. Also remember to check on the duration of support, whether it is 1-year, 3-year, 5-year or lifetime.
An Ethernet switch is a critical component in any 10GbE network. In fact, a 10Gb switch is the right solution that allows you to extend beyond simple reliability to achieve better network performance and speeds at an affordable cost.
While purchasing the 10Gb switch, have a detailed network plan and consider all the above. If you are still not aware of which switch to buy, consult an expert to help you create a network plan depending on your requirements.