Switch Definition In Networking Explained

When it comes to networking technology, we won’t miss Ethernet switches. Because it is an essential part of networking communication. Connecting devices, such as computers, routers, and servers, together on a network, it enables current to be turned on and off and selects a channel for data transmission. Then you may ask, what is the switch definition in networking? What are the types of switches in networking? How to choose a switch for my network? Now, this passage will give you the answers and suggestions.

What Is the Switch Definition In Networking

There is one question that confuses many people: what is a switch in networking? A switch, in the switch definition of networking, is a high-speed network equipment used to connect devices together on a network and enable the data transmission between different devices. It receives incoming data packets and redirects them to their destination on a local area network (LAN).

In a local area network (LAN) using Ethernet, a network switch determines where to send each incoming message frame according to the physical device address. This kind of address is also known as the Media Access Control address or MAC address. If a switch needs to forward a frame to a MAC address that is unknown by the switch, then the frame is flooded to all ports in the switching domain. Generally speaking, a data switch can create an electronic tunnel between the source and the destination ports that no other traffic can enter for a short time.

Switch Definition In Networking: Types of Switches In Networking

The Ethernet switch is an essential part of any network. Generally speaking, the Ethernet switch can be classified into two categories: the modular switch and the fixed switch.

Modular Switch

The modular switch has expansion ability and high flexibility. Modular switch makes it possible for you to add expansion modules as needed into the switches. It is much more complex than fixed switch, so it costs more than fixed switch.

Fixed Switch

The fixed switch isn’t expandable and has a fixed number of ports. Although it has less flexibility, it offers a lower entry cost. There are mainly three types of fixed switches in networking. They are the unmanaged switch, the smart switch, and the managed switch.

Unmanaged Switch

The unmanaged switch is often used in home networks, small business offices or shops. It can’t be managed, so we can’t enable or disable interfaces of it. Although it doesn’t provide security features, it can offer enough support if you use it in a small network of fewer than 5-10 computers.

Smart Switch

The smart switch is mainly used for business applications such as smaller networks and VoIP. It is suitable for small VLANs, VoIP phones, and labs. Smart switch can let you configure ports and set up virtual networks, but doesn’t have the ability to allow troubleshooting, monitoring, remote-accessing to manage network issues.

Managed Switch

The managed switch is widely used in data centers and enterprise networks. It provides control, high-levels of network security, and management. It’s ideal for remote-access control capabilities and off-site round-the-clock monitoring. The managed switches can improve a network’s resource utilization and speed. Although it costs the most, it worth the investment for a long run.

Switch Definition In Networking: types of fixed switches

How to Choose a Switch For Your Network?

When you choose a switch for your network, you need to consider several factors at the same time. These factors include the number of ports, transmission speed, and stackable vs standalone.

Number of Ports

Most of the switches on the market have 4 to 48ports. You need to consider the number of ports you’ll need according to the number of users and devices and devices your network supports. The larger your organization is, the more ports you’ll need. Considering the possible expansion of your network and the possible increase of your user amount, you need to prepare extra ports for a long term plan.


There are various switches with different speed, such as Gigabit Ethernet switch and 10GbE switch used at the edge of the network, as well as 40GbE switch and 100GbE switch used in the network core layers. When you determine the speed, the key factor to consider is the need of your network users and future growth. Such as how large are the volumes of the transferring data and whether do you require faster link.

Stackable vs Standalone

Will your network grow larger? If your answer is yes, then you may choose a stackable switch. Standalone switches need to be configured individually, and troubleshooting also needs to be handled on an individual basis. While stackable switches allow for multiple switches to be configured as one entity. With this advantage, you can save time and energy when you manage on the stackable switches. Here I want to recommend you FS.COM S3800 switches, which are stackable switches. The following video is a tutorial about how to stack switches using S3800 switches.


In the above passage, we’ve explained how people define switch in networking and analyze the types of switches. Besides, this article offers some suggestions about how to choose a switch for your network. I believe that you have got a general idea about switch definition in networking. If you need a little more help and advice with switch definition in networking, then please do not hesitate to let us know. For purchasing high-quality switch with low cost or for more products’ information, please contact us at sales@fs.com.


SDN vs. OpenFlow vs. OpenStack: What’s the Difference?

As the network grows, the network equipment producers flourish, bringing many different exclusive products into the market. How to manage or operate so many equipment as the different vendors own diversified CLI and web interface to debug and configure. It’s time to put forward some new technologies, SDN vs. OpenFlow vs. OpenStack to tackle this problem.

SDN VS OpenFlow vs. OpenStack: What Are They?

SDN-Software Defined Network

Software-defined networking (SDN) technology is a new way to cloud computing.To improve network monitoring and performance, SDN is designed to enhance network management and promote programmatically network configuration efficiently. It centralizes network intelligence in one network component by decoupling the forwarding process of network packets (data plane) and the routing process (control plane). SDN is mainly composed by application layer which provides application and service, control layer responsible for unified management and control, and forwarding layer that offers hardware equipment like fiber switches, Gigabit Ethernet switches and routers to forward data. The following table illustrates the advantage of SDN against traditional network.

Software-defined Network vs. Traditional Network

Software-defined Network Traditional Network
Forwarding and control separation Forwarding and control coupling
Centralized control Decentralized control
Programmable Non-programmable
Open interface Closed interface

OpenFlow: the Enabler of SDN

To turn the concept of SND into practical implementation, we need to put into place some protocols, among which OpenFlow is the most desirable one. So what is OpenFlow?

OpenFlow is a communications protocol that empowers a network switch or router to access the forwarding plane over the network. Also it can serve as a specification of the logical structure of the network switch functions. We know that each switch vendors may have their own proprietary interfaces and scripting languages, and this protocol enables them to work coordinately while avoid exposing their technology secret inside switches to the public.


OpenStack is an open source cloud computing management platform project that combines several major components to accomplish specific tasks. Its existence confronts the AWS of Amazon, as it allows all participators to access the source code and share some ideas, if they want to. It is convenient and reliable with strong compatibility and adaptability, gaining support from many vendors.

SDN vs. OpenFlow vs. OpenStack: OpenStack

SDN vs. OpenFlow vs. OpenStack: What’s the Difference?

SDN vs. OpenFlow

SDN and OpenFlow are prone to be confused and misunderstood. Take a look at SDN vs. OpenFlow, the two are indeed interconnected. First of all, as an open protocol, OpenFlow underpins the various SDN controller solutions. The complete SDN solution is taking SDN controller as the core, backed by OpenFlow switches and NFV to offer bountiful SDN app for a new smart, dynamic, open, custom network.

OpenFlow vs. OpenStack

OpenFlow, since its release, has gained achievements in hardware and software support. CISCO, Juniper, Toroki and pronto have all launched network equipment like 10gbe switch, router, and wireless access point which support OpenFlow. In contrast, OpenStack covers many aspects like network, virtualization, operation system, and server. It is an ongoing cloud computing platform.

SDN vs. OpenStack

Network orchestration OpenStack copes with the component organization of a particular group of assets, from open source or closed implementations, thus we can say that it can be considered how a software-defined network is deployed. While SDN control serves like the commander of organizers and deals with maintaining consistent (as far as is feasible) policy across multiple groups of assets, so we deem it much like the “why.”


SDN vs. OpenFlow vs. OpenStack, the three terms that are of far-reaching significance, attract more attention from the public. This article may provide you with some help to know them at the very first step. Till now, the networking technologies are still advancing, knowing what they are at present doesn’t mean the truly master of it. There is still plenty of room left to be explored.

1Gb Backbone vs 10Gb Backbone: Gigabit Switch or 10GbE Switch

The modern world is developing in full speed, so is the telecommunication industry. Not long ago 10GbE switch had been a luxury, so was exclusively affordable to large enterprises. And many individuals and businesses used 10/100Mb switch and could only get to gigabit switch for 1Gb backbone. However, this situation is changing due to price dropping and proliferating market demand. Now more and more SMBs and individuals are using gigabit switch and attempt to access 10Gb switch. As thus questions like whether to deploy gigabit switch as 1Gb backbone or 10GbE switch as 10Gb backbone has stirred heated discussion on many forums. This article is to give some reference for 1Gb backbone vs 10Gb backbone selection guide.

1 Gb backbone gigabit switch vs 10Gb backbone 10GbE switch

What Is 1Gb Backbone Gigabit Switch?

Simply put, 1Gb backbone refers to the networking configuration that gigabit switch is used in the data center as core switch. A typical scenario in 1Gb backbone configuration is to run 10/100Mb access layer switches with 1Gb uplink back to a central gigabit switch. In this case the 1Gb uplink on the 100Mb switch receives the 1Gbps from the switch gigabit, then divides the 1Gb bandwidth to its terminal endpoints. Restricted by the normal port 10/100Mb, max. 100Mb is available for access points. As thus 100Mb switch has gradually been obsoleted by gigabit switch.

To achieve 1000Mbps and bring in PoE capability, modern operators often use gigabit PoE switch as access switch to cooperate 1Gb backbone gigabit switch. Here is a 1Gb backbone deployment scenario by FS.COM: Employing S5800-48F4S 48 port gigabit SFP switch as 1Gb backbone in the data center. Linking two 24 port PoE switches in the office to connect and power IP phones, wireless APs, desktops and laptops. Then running two wires to link two 8 port PoE switches in the warehouse for IP surveillance.

gigabit switch 1Gb backbone

Figure 1: Deploying FS 48 port gigabit switch with 10Gb uplink as core switch and FS 8/24 port gigabit PoE switches as access switches.

What Is 10Gb Backbone 10GbE Switch?

Similarly, 10Gb backbone refers to the configuration that 10GbE switch serves as core switch in the data center. Then running gigabit switches with 10Gb uplink back to the central 10Gb switch. To illustrate 10Gb backbone configuration, here is a deployment scenario. In this case, we deploy S5800-8TF12S 10Gb SFP+ switch as core 10GbE switch in the data center. Using S3800-48T4S 48 port switch and S1600-48T4S 48 port gigabit PoE switch as access switches, we run fiber patch cables to corresponding 10Gb SFP+ uplinks on these access switches. As thus the 10Gb uplink bandwidth can be divided to the access gigabit switch normal port.

Assumption on the case 10 same endpoints are connected to 10 ports on the gigabit Ethernet switch. Then each can obtain max. 1000Mb from the 10Gb uplink bandwidth. In this case the gigabit speed is retained. If the upper layer switch is a gigabit switch, then each endpoint can only get 100Mb.

gigabit switch as access switch in 10Gb backbone configuration

Figure 2: Deploying S5800-8TF12S 10Gb SFP+ switch as 10Gb backbone, while S3800-48T4S 48 port switch and S1600-48T4S 48 port gigabit PoE switch are for gigabit access switch.

1Gb Backbone vs 10Gb Backbone: Gigabit Switch or 10GbE Switch as Core Switch?
Virtualization Application

Generally speaking, deploying gigabit switch for a 1Gb backbone vs 10GbE switch for a 10Gb backbone depends heavily on virtualization application. Even in a small office with only several PCs, demanding applications for high bandwidth may require a backbone 10Gb switch. That is, if you or your employees must deal with high-load pictures and videos every day, 10GbE switch backbone is a must to ensure smooth operation and work efficiency. Or you may easily get stuck in network congestion. Say a regular video conference in a midsize enterprise can randomly drop, which wastes time and drag down schedule process.

Number of Users

Also, pay attention to number of users. Counting all the current endpoints: computers, wireless APs, IP phones, etc. And try to measure the load traffic by plotting utilization. Then take future expansion into consideration. If your backbone gigabit switch ports are already hot for using the most bandwidth provided, and you still need to add office devices, then your network is on the verge of severe congestion. In this case 10Gb switch backbone or higher is the choice to go.

Access Point Bandwidth

All in all, choosing between backbone gigabit switch vs backbone 10GbE switch, there is a bandwidth gap that access endpoints are available. If you deploy 10Gb switch as core switch and gigabit switch with 10Gb uplink as access switch, the normal port on the access switch can get max. 1000Mb bandwidth. However, if the backbone is 1Gb and your access switch is 100Mb, then only max. 100Mb bandwidth can be available in the access switch port. So for 1Gb backbone scenario where one use gigabit switch as core switch, deploying gigabit PoE switch instead of 100Mb switch as access switch is a solution to keep up with 1000Mbps speed.


In summary, 1 Gb backbone gigabit switch vs 10Gb backbone 10GbE switch selection depends on the bandwidth your virtualization applications require. In detail, 10Gb switch shall function as 10Gb backbone in the case mass data transfer is a regular task. Thus the gigabit switch normal ports can share max. 1Gb bandwidth. Otherwise you can remain your 1Gb backbone. But for 1Gb access, deploying gigabit PoE switch to replace your 100Mb access switch is a future-proofing and feasible solution to go. FS SFP switch is a good choice for 1Gb backbone core switch whereas SFP+ switch for 10Gb backbone core switch.

Gigabit PoE Switch vs Normal Switch

The telecommunication industry has always been developing with leaps and bounds and technology changes with each passing day. For common people with few network knowledge, the evolving optional network devices like PoE switch can be a big puzzle. What is PoE? What is the distinction of gigabit PoE switch vs normal switch? Read this article for reference.

What Are PoE and PoE Switch?

PoE, abbreviation of Power over Ethernet, is a technology that enables Ethernet cable to supply power. Thus power sourcing equipment (PSE) can transmit both data and power to powered devices (PD) simultaneously via one single cable. PoE has two standards available on network switch: IEEE 802.3af/at. The former orginal PoE standard is defined in 2003, which provides 15.4 W power budget to PDs (12.95 W available for accessing). The latter PoE+/PoE Plus standard defined in 2009 provides up to 30 W (25.5 W) power.

PoE switch is one of the two types of PSE for PoE implement: endspan switch and midspan PoE injector. To enhance network resiliency, gigabit PoE switches provided by FS.COM are highly compatible IEEE 802.3af/at managed PoE+ switches. For example, S1130-8T2F managed gigabit 8 port PoE switch with 2 SFP ports can connect to gigabit Ethernet network while S1600-48T4S 48 port PoE switch can use the SFP+ ports to connect with 10gbe switch for higher performance data transfer.

S1130-8T2F 8 port PoE switch

Figure 1: FS S1130-8T2F 8 port PoE managed switch can be flexibly placed in a rack, on a wall or on desktop.

PoE Switch vs Normal Switch: What’s the Difference?

In a word, PoE switch and normal switch differ from PoE accessibility. A regular Ethernet switch is not PoE enabled to supply power for end users over Ethernet. Therefore the user requires one extra cable to connect power outlets. However a normal switch can also become PoE ready by employing a midspan injector between the switch and PDs. The injector will add electrical power while receiving data signal from Ethernet switch end cable, and then deliver both data and power to PDs. But in this circumstance the injector also needs a wire for power. When using gigabit PoE switch, only one power cable is required. Then the PDs can be directly plugged into the PoE gigabit switch port for both data transmission and power supply. The illustration and table below list the differences of employing PoE switch vs normal switch while adding PoE to network.

gigabit PoE switch vs normal switch

Figure 2: An illustration of deploying PoE gigabit switch vs normal switch when adding PoE to network.

PoE Switch Normal Switch
Required Accessories Easy for management (power and transmission) Require separate two wires for powering on normal switch and PoE injector
PoE Access Method Upgrade to PoE network by replacing the normal Ethernet switch with PoE Ethernet switch Install PoE injector between switch and PDs to add PoE capability to the existing non-PoE switch
Emergency Reaction Potential chance of the whole system’s outage Only one device be affected
What Are the Advantages of PoE Switch?

As mentioned above, PoE switch differs from normal switch for supplying power to PDs in the meantime of data delivery. Though the normal switch system can also acquire PoE by installing injector, PoE endspan has the superiority of direct Power over Ethernet ability. Counting to this, gigabit PoE switch owns edges over normal switch as follows. First, it enables PDs like IP surveillance cameras to be placed almost anywhere: on the ceiling, concealed in a wall, or even underwater while only one cable is needed to run to them. Second, it saves extra expanse and time for power cabling and injector installation. Third, with simplified cabling of all PDs directly connected to gigabit PoE switch, the data center is easy for management and control. Besides, PoE gigabit switch itself is designed with advanced features like high-performance hardware with software, auto-sensing PoE compatibility, strong network security and environmental adaptability.


Gigabit PoE switch can supply power to PDs in the meantime of data transmission via one single Ethernet cable while normal switch can only send data to them. For PoE implement, normal switch requires a power-on auxiliary injector as midspan between switch and powered devices. Thus PoE switch owns advantages of direct PoE connection, easy and flexible placement, cost-efficiency, simplified management and etc. For any applications of IP surveillance cameras, VoIP phones and wireless APs, PoE switch over normal switch is a good solution to go.