Nowadays, managed PoE switches are getting more and more popular among network users, especially in enterprise-level businesses where a higher level of management is required to prioritize the traffic coming in and out of the LAN switch to ensure the optimal performance of the connected devices. Unmanaged network switches are more of a plug-and-play type with no settings to configure, and they will immediately start forwarding traffic once plugged in. They are easier to maintain and manage and work fine in small networks where only a few devices are connected. But in larger networks where reliability and security are critical, such as mid-sized enterprises, government agencies and universities, managed switches will give you greater control over your network.
What is a Managed Network Switch?
The managed network switch is a device that allows connected devices to communicate with each other and remains the feature to manage, monitor and configure the traffic of the LAN. The unmanaged switch is developed with a fixed configuration to which you cannot make any changes, while the managed switch is fully configurable and offers greater functionality than its counterpart. It allows users to create new VLANs and guarantees fast data recovery in network failures. The managed switch is equipped with advanced security features to avoid any type of tampering on the device. Managed network switches generally provide a higher level of QoS and support various protocols like SNMP to allow the users to check the status of each network port for traffic throughput and network error. The managed switch is more expensive than the unmanaged one but it provides advanced features like port mirroring. But since it’s an enterprise-level switch, it needs to be set up and handled by skilled IT staff.
Benefits of Managed Switches in Business
When a network becomes more complex, a higher level of management is required, and this is why you’ll need to use a managed switch to create a fully optimized network to achieve more than basic needs. Here’s a quick look at the benefits of using managed network switches in business.
Optimized Network Traffic
The managed switch helps to prioritize the traffic flow of each network port. Since different network devices have different bandwidth requirements, when these devices are connected on the same switch, the managed switch can help you control the amount of traffic each port is forwarding to ensure the optimal performance of each connected device. For example, the average bandwidth consumption of a static IP camera is merely 4Mpbs (2MP streaming with H.264), while a 4K quality camera will require at least 15Mbps even when streaming with H.265. By using a managed switch, you can easily configure the low-bandwidth-consumption devices to low priority so other devices can get enough bandwidth to function properly.
Less Network Downtime
Managed switches provide services like network monitoring and problem diagnosis to allow you to have better control over your network. It provides full reports of status on each port and speeds up troubleshooting if necessary to shorten the time wasted on data recovery. Network failures pose a great safety and economic risk to enterprise networks, and occasional IT downtime may cost you thousands of dollars per year. To avoid such a problem, deploying a managed switch that supports ring redundancy will be of great help. In this configuration, the switches can be connected in a ring topology where each network switch is connected to two other switches on either side. The backup ring remains inactive during normal operation, but if one network switch fails, it will activate until the connection is repaired.
Another major advantage of using managed switches in business networks mainly lies in its high security. Unmanaged switches only provide basic security features, but the managed switches can only provide access to trusted devices to prevent unauthorized access and block unknown devices. With the 802.1X Port-Based Network Access Control (PNAC), the user can set up the level to access the switch.
How to Choose a Managed Network Switch?
Since there are various models out there with different specifications and features, we’ve concluded a quick buying guide to help you pick the best managed switch for your network:
Switch Ports: Network switches have different port numbers: 4, 8, 16, 32 and 64. A 4/8-port network switch is normally enough for everyday use, but the larger the network is, the greater number of Ethernet ports you’ll need. Based on how many devices you’re going to add to your networks, you can choose the suitable LAN switch that fulfills your needs, but it’s always better to choose a switch that has more interfaces than you actually need for future network expansions.
Features and Performance: When choosing a managed switch, the network speed is the priority. Fast Ethernet is enough for powering normal IP cameras and wireless access points, but Gigabit speed is required for running PTZ cameras, high-performance APs, LCD displays, etc. And make sure you select one with enough network capacity. Apart from some basic features such as advanced QoS, VLAN, and security, the managed switch should have some advanced features and diagnosis tools like remote network mirroring.
Commercial or Industrial: The commercial network switches are developed for applications in well-controlled and air-conditioned settings like an office and campus, while the industrial managed switches are designed for applications in factory automation, oil and mining, and public transportation projects like intersection traffic monitoring, etc. The industrial-grade managed switch has a strong resistance to vibration, electrical noise, temperature fluctuations and exposure to chemicals or combustible environments. The industrial switch features a fan-less heat dissipation mechanism, while the commercial one is usually fan-distributed.