The Wrong Ethernet Switch Could Paralyze Your Business.

Purchasing the Correct Ethernet Switch

A common problem I am seeing lately is the purchase of inadequate and inexpensive Ethernet switches.  It is a purchase where considering features and quality, not just price, is paramount.

The purpose of a switch is to pass data traffic through quickly and reliably.  An Ethernet switch connects multiple computers within the same network, managing the traffic between them.

There are 2 basic types of Ethernet switches: Core Switches used for fast and large volumes of traffic, and Edge Switches used to connect individual users. There are 2 important questions that need to be answered before purchasing a switch.

  1. How many users are on the network? This will determine the size (measured in ports) of the switch and how many switches will be needed.
  2. What are the network needs? If the network transmits VoIP the ability for Layer 3 on at least one Ethernet switch and VLAN is required on all switches purchased.

Consider the features of a switch and not just the price.  Such features include:

  1. Managed/unmanaged: When moving to VoIP always purchase managed switch
  2. Speed: Although 10/100 is adequate in most office environments, the majority of new PC’s ship with 10/100/1000 Network Interface Cards so you should consider purchasing a switch that will handle Gigabit (1000).  Pay careful attention to legacy equipment you may have on your network.  New Gigabit switches may have problems negotiating 10.
  3. Ability to divide or segment the network into multiple address spaces or Virtual LANs
  4. PoE capability which provides DC power to telephony devices connected to the switch
  5. QoS / Class of service determines which traffic is more important giving it priority
  6. Management features to help trouble shoot problems on the network

When purchasing a new Ethernet switch you should be paying around $20.00 per port for Non-PoE and around $40.00 per port for PoE.  Pay less and you may be jeopardizing your business operations.  If price is of concern, purchasing a quality used CISCO, HP Procurve, ADTRAN or Brocade over a less expensive brand of switch is advisable.

If you would like more information on purchasing an Ethernet switch or any other telecommunications topic please visit my blog, give me a call, or send me an email.

Craig Hodges
BSB Communications, Inc.
586-859-6308 DID/Cell



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