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Network Switch: Classifications and Functions.

A network switch is networking hardware that connects devices within a network by using packet switching to receive and forward data to the destination device. They provide the wired inter-connections to servers, desktop computers, wireless access points, industrial machinery, printers, etc. and allows them to communicate each other by exchanging data packets. They provide underlying network connectivity to virtual machines in datacenters, as well as the physical servers, and much of the storage infrastructure.

Classifications of Switch:


The feature of a switch that enables you to configure or modify a configuration either through a web GUI or CLI.

  • Unmanaged switches: Plug and play switch to provide basic connectivity. These switches generally cannot be modified or managed.
  • Managed switches: Designed to deliver the most comprehensive set of features to provide the best application experience, the highest levels of security, the most precise control and management of the network, and the greatest scalability. Commonly deployed as aggregation/access switches in very large networks or as core switches in smaller networks
  • Smart Switches: Plug and play switch with some limited management features. It offers features like QoS (Quality of Service), Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), command-line interface (CLI), Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (RSTP), redundancy capability, VLANs, LACP, and so on.

Power Injection:

The capability of a network switch that facilitates powering a device (such as an IP phone, IP Surveillance Camera, or Wireless Access Point) over the same cable as the data traffic.

  • Non-PoE: Provides no inline power
  • PoE: 802.3af, Maximum power delivered is 15.4W.
  • PoE+: 802.3at, Maximum power (peek) delivered is 30W
  • UPOE: Cisco proprietary, Maximum power delivered is 60W

Operation Layers:

Based on the OSI model Architecture, switches are mailnly of 2 types depending on the layer at which it operates.

  • Layer 2: Uses MAC addresses to forward data at the data link layer
  • Layer 3: Forward data at the network layer by additionally incorporating routing functionality

Network switch speeds:

This value shows the maximum packet rate the switch can support on all ports at all supported speeds.

  • Fast Ethernet: 10/100 Mbps
  • Gigabit Ethernet: 10/100/1000 Mbps
  • Ten Gigabit: 10/100/1000/10000 Mbps


Ability to internet connect/stack multiple switches to act as a single switch and perform configuration, management, and troubleshooting instead of performing on each switch individually. It provides a way to simplify management and increase the availability of the network.

  • Standalone: Operates as a single entity. Perform configuration, management, and troubleshooting of each switch individually.
  • Stackable: Can be stacked with multiple switches to act as a single switch
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