Chapter 2. Basic Switch Features

Now that we’ve seen how switches function, we will describe some of the features you may find supported on switches. The size of your network and its expected growth affect the way you use Ethernet switches and the type of switch features that you need. A network in a home or single office space can get by with one or a few small and low-cost switches that provide basic Ethernet service at high enough speeds to meet your needs with few extra features. Such networks are not expected to be complex enough to present major challenges in terms of network stability, nor are they expected to grow much larger.

On the other hand, a medium-sized network supporting multiple offices may need more powerful switches with some management features and configuration capabilities. If the offices require high-performance networking for access to file servers, then the network design may require switches with fast uplink ports. Large campus networks with hundreds or even thousands of network connections will typically have a hierarchical network design based on switches with high-speed uplink ports, and more sophisticated switch features to support network management and help maintain network stability.

Switch Management

Depending on their cost, switches may be provided with a management interface and management software that collects and displays statistics on switch operation, network activity, and port traffic and error counters. Many medium- and higher-cost switches ...

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