Learn how to implement and manage your network switches with these basic principles and best practices

Business networks are incomplete without network switches, which are often misunderstood. Using switches on a network enables your devices to connect and share data, allowing them to receive information from other devices and users. Multiple wired connections can be made simultaneously through them, allowing devices to communicate with each other over the network. Using switches in business networks, users can distribute and send data within the organization, enabling efficient collaboration across your organization.

The importance of network switches is often overlooked by IT and network professionals as mere Ethernet hubs or just another stepping stone in network traffic. Network switches are vital components of any network and need just as much care as routers and access points. 

One of the keys to smooth network performance for employees and end-users is to design and manage your network switch infrastructure properly – a crucial task considering how important it is to maintain high user satisfaction. In this section, we discuss how to effectively manage your network switch infrastructure.

1. The physical design of a network switch

The onboarding process for a network switch shouldn’t just involve connecting it to the network and letting it run. Maintaining the physical elements of your switches is just as important as configuring them properly. It’s important to determine the design of an efficient network but also to avoid problems with physical device maintenance.

The physical location placement of a network switch

When installing network switches, it’s crucial to consider the physical location of your switches. Keep the switch out of the danger of overheating by placing it in areas with enough airflow. Additionally, switches shouldn’t be placed in locations that will be difficult for engineers to reach, especially if they’re in areas that collect a lot of dust and require periodic cleaning.

A network switch’s uplink design

For maximum redundancy, Auvik recommends avoiding single-link systems when connecting your network switches to the rest of your network backend. It assures your IT team that the network will continue to function even if one link goes down.

Risks of 10Gbps Ethernet in network switches

For businesses, 10Gbps Ethernet might seem like an appealing prospect. Upper management might try to push for it. However, 10Gbps Ethernet might not be the best choice for your network. Due to the unsynchronized burst nature of network traffic, network switches can handle significant amounts of oversubscription. If your company has a large number of users who share a lot of data over the network, 10Gbps Ethernet speeds aren’t always needed to reach the levels of traffic needed for business operations.

Physical ports and network path diversity

You should pay attention to the physical connections and ports that make up your network to protect against network downtime. It is crucial to connect multiple physical pathways for network traffic so that service will not be lost if one physical link fails, is damaged, or is otherwise damaged. The physical maintenance of your links is essential, but so is having diverse pathways to ensure redundancy.

Switching stacks for networks

For networking, switch stacks and chassis are popular choices as they increase density without creating a complex system to manage. With dual uplinks coming from different supervisors, network engineers can breathe easy knowing their network is more resilient and less prone to total failure. It is, however, possible that switch software updates will require the switch – and therefore, the portion of the network it serves – to be disconnected.

2. Network switch: configuration in location

After your physical network has been designed and installed, the next step is to configure each of your switches to ensure they perform as efficiently as possible and are as secure as possible. The incorrect configuration of network hardware can cause many headaches, and you need to set up your hardware correctly to manage switches properly. 

Configuring a spanning tree switch

In one scenario, the closet switch could become the network’s root bridge, which might prevent incoming traffic. The rapid deployment of spanning trees introduced in 802.1w allows switches to quickly adapt to changes in the network, such as a downed link or power outage.

Routing configuration in a network

The primary objective of closet switches isn’t to function as transit routers. Configuring your network switches as stub routers instead allows them to distribute traffic appropriately to VLAN connections without the core network asking them about networks they don’t belong to. Closet switches also only need to know one default route rather than the whole core routing table, since that’s the only traffic link they’ll need to use.

Network Quality of Service Considerations

Quality of Service ensures that high-priority or high-density traffic always has the resources to transmit data. For closet switches that operate a large amount of traffic at once, those without any connections probably will not require any major QoS features. QoS will need to be established for those portions of your network which handle heavy voice and video traffic.

Security of the network

Make sure your network switch cannot be reconfigured by unauthorized parties for security reasons. By disabling unencrypted management protocols and changing default usernames and passwords, you may prevent your network switches from becoming a vector for attack. By using a network monitoring software, such as Auvik’s own platform, you can ensure that switches and other hardware are performing as they should.

Ethernet Frames in Network Switching – explained

Think of an organization where someone can send documents to another person within their private/local organization using inter-departmental mail. Within the internal envelope, the contents are placed and the sender’s name and department are written in the “From” and “To” fields. 

The mailroom recognizes the internal-use envelope, reads the destination name and department, translates the information into a physical address (building/office), and delivers it to the recipient. It is handled by local resources familiar with the environment, so the envelope never leaves the private/local organization.

Because inter-office envelopes do not have a mailing address, they cannot be sent outside of the company. A postal envelope will need to be used if the contents of the inter-office envelope are to be sent to an office outside of the local area.

Ethernet frames work similarly. Containers are used to transport data between two locations on the same network. They have a source address and a destination address. In addition to a name and department, the source and destination address of a frame are the MAC (Media Access Controller) addresses of a computer, tablet, IP Phone, or IoT device. Every Ethernet device on the planet has a unique ID number.

The network interface device produces frames at Layer 2 of the TCP/IP stack with a payload size that depends on the data being transmitted. An Ethernet switch checks the destination address of a frame against a MAC lookup table it has in memory before sending it to the network. Using the lookup table, the switch can determine which physical port, i.e., RJ45 port, corresponds to the device whose MAC address matches the destination address of the frame. Get Expert Support from Managed Network Switch Services

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