Part 3: SWITCHES
In part 1 and 2 of our series about business-class networks, we covered routers and firewalls. But you have to connect everything. Here are some basics you need to know about your business network switches.
Getting all of your business devices connected to your LAN requires a network switch. A network switch is a physical device with multiple connection ports to make a physical link between your computers and your Internet gateway.
DUMB NETWORK SWITCHES
Network switches made for the consumer market and commonly found for sale on the shelf of big box stores have very limited functionality. These are referred to as unmanaged or dumb network switches. They provide a flat network where all devices connected have the ability to access each other. This also means the network data from all connected devices is in competition to get to and from the Internet.
Does your business offer a guest WiFi? A guest, using your LAN, may be able to access your other business computers and their information if your network switches cannot be configured to isolate devices.
A Managed Switch allows for multiple Virtual LANs (VLANs) to be configured to segment certain types of devices as needed by your business. In a business-class network switch implementation, it is best practice to isolate computers, servers, video cameras, phone systems, and guest networks.
A Managed Switch also provides more monitoring capabilities. Therefore, if an issue arises with your LAN performance, a Managed Switch provides more insight into the potential cause of the issue and reduces the time and effort to resolve the issue.
A proper business-class network switch will also have a better warranty and support subscription from the manufacturer.
Most business-class equipment come with at least a 3 year warranty. That big box store warranty is usually not longer than a year, or will cost you additional fees with sub-par service. The warrant entitles you to a replacement if the switch breaks at no additional cost. This allows you to avoid unplanned capital expenses to replace failed equipment.
The support subscription entitles you to software updates which are just as critical on switches as they are on Firewalls. These updates keep your network secure, efficient, and free of issues.
In our final installment of this network overview series, we will talk about your business Wireless Access Point (WAN).
Please leave questions or comments below. You can tell me what you want to learn about in the "Ask Me" section at the top right of this blog page.
Leeward Business Advisors provides secure solutions and business-class networking powered by Fortinet. We can monitor your entire network, including your managed switch and proactively maintain and provide remediation.
Leeward Elite provides a complete network package at a set monthly rate with no additional surprise fees.