When you first hear about a network switch, you may think it’s simply a fancy word for a cable connecting two computers. However, a network switch is much more than that. How does a network switch work? What does a network switch do?
In order to answer these questions, you need to understand how the network switch works. Network switch works like any other hardware device, where there are primary and secondary network ports. There are also managed switches, which are used only when there are no unmanaged switch ports in place. Then there are dedicated switches, which are used when there are multiple network ports available.
In addition to these primary and secondary network ports, there are also port groups. Port groups are used to specify the number of such ports a machine can have. Typically, there are three types of ports in an Ethernet switch: the uplink port, the Ethernet bridge port, and the firewall port.
The uplink port is used to associate with other devices. The Ethernet frame that creates this connection has a maximum MTU value and must be able to handle traffic from at least five devices. In general, the uplink port and the other ports don’t interact with each other. They’re only supposed to work together if one of them support the required protocols. Common protocols that an Ethernet switch should support include QoS (Quality Of Service), BGP (bits per second), and L2TP (looped forward), among others.
An Ethernet network switch’s Ethernet bridge device allows computer network switches to operate as stackable switches. A single switch will provide all the required ports for one computer system. In order to allow computers to connect to each other, however, several different switches must be attached to each other. And to provide a standardized form of connection, a standard Ethernet port has to be attached to a standard computer network switch. In addition, several devices can be added to a single switch.
One way to improve the quality of a switch’s performance is to perform device port mirroring. Mirroring allows a single switch to act like several different switches. Each of these switches can have its own MAC address and can have different port names. If a given device isn’t responding, it can be identified and disabled; otherwise, it can be replaced with another device.
Layer of security
An additional feature that makes the switch even more useful is that it can provide a layer of security. A layer 2 multipoint protocol is available. This enables either all or part of a network to adjust its rate of forwarding so that packets are received or sent according to how many nearby devices have set their rate to equalize. If some devices receive a higher rate of transmission than other nearby devices, the switch can detect this and make a priority decision regarding which system should receive the packet first.
Some larger enterprise companies need more than one switch to handle traffic from a variety of sources. A number of such large companies are turning to MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) to improve their overall network efficiency. MPLS works by allowing packets of data to be transmitted over a single network of fiber channels. To make use of MPLS, one switch may be operated as many as twenty MPLS ports.
The ease of use for these types of switches is another reason why they are so popular. As opposed to the complicated configuration processes associated with traditional access switches, network-enabled routers and fabric switches make it simple for an administrator to configure and deploy a high-performance, low-cost enterprise switch.
Many switches also come with automated diagnostics tools and support for a wide variety of programming languages. They may also include provisioning equipment, including equipment that installs and modifies Ethernet hardware. There may even be software applications that allow network administrators to manage traffic, debug and control routing processes, and obtain detailed traffic information.
For a quick illustration of how a switch works, imagine that a packet of information has arrived at the Ethernet hub. At this point, the Ethernet signal has already been broken down into packets of various lengths. The Ethernet hub’s software will then determine which of these packets contains the necessary data for forwarding to the end destination. In order to complete this process, the software must also ascertain which port is best used for the purpose of transmitting the packets of data.
If one listens carefully, one will notice that each individual Ethernet port corresponds to one another in a virtual manner. This is achieved because each computer on a network switch has at least one other computer on the same machine.
When a packet of data is sent to a host, the other computer on the machine will receive the packets on its corresponding port and process them according to the pre-established rules contained within the frame. With such a system in place, network switches allow computers to communicate to each other over mediums that would have previously been impossible. Now imagine the possibilities when stacks of Ethernet switches are piled up one atop the other!