Four levels offered in Gigabit Ethernet switching

SMC Networks Inc. announced a line of gigabit Ethernet switches with four levels of features and functionality to better suit user needs and market applications. SMC Networks, based in Irvine, CA, says it is the only company to offer switches in all of the four levels to meet the varying needs of many network environments, according to Tom Rizol, SMC general manager, Americas.


SMC Networks Inc . announced a line of gigabit Ethernet switches with four levels of features and functionality to better suit user needs and market applications. SMC Networks, based in Irvine, CA, says it is the only company to offer switches in all of the four levels to meet the varying needs of many network environments, according to Tom Rizol, SMC general manager, Americas. The four levels are unmanaged switches, smart switches, managed switches, and enterprise managed switches.

Unmanaged switches open bandwidth without a huge investment or dedicated IT resources, said to be perfect for simple networks for clear connections and ease of use in straightforward, relatively small networks or for connecting networking peripherals such as printers, IP phones, and storage devices. Cost is about $12 to $15 per port. Example: a small company manages inventory systems with a 15-computer network connected with an SMCGS24 switch. Budgets are tight, and only simple connections are required, so the company chose unmanaged switches for overall efficiency in communication among the 15 computers.

Smart switches are for users looking to migrate from unmanaged to managed switches without the extra costs and added complexity of fully managed solutions. Gigabit smart switches (like the SMCGS24-Smart) add key management features to make the network more efficient and secure: Port Trunking, for switch-to-switch connections that overcome bottlenecks by increasing overall bandwidth; DSCP-based quality of service (QoS) to manage demanding applications like VoIP; and VLANs to segment the network for enhanced security and privacy. They're said to be easy to configure with a graphical menu and include WRR and IEEE 802.1p (Class of Service); Broadcast Storm Control; Port Mirroring; Dual Firmware Images and Web management security. Cost is $13 to $16 per port. Example: Growing networks with 50 or more users can experience slowdowns from bottlenecks. Without a dedicated MIS manager, an upgrade to still relatively simple smart switches offers critical management features, such as port trunking to open bandwidth without the overhead of heavy-duty management.

SMB managed switches are said to provide efficient Gigabit Ethernet switching for bandwidth-intensive networks with a set of management features for mid-sized applications. SMC's new SMC8024L2 TigerSwitch 10/100/1000 Managed Switch has features to enable secure edge systems such as 802.1x and IP filtering, in addition to QoS with four levels of priority and weighted fair queuing to ensure smooth transmission of mission critical data. Full SNMP, VLANs based on frame tags or ports and spanning tree for loop detection and prevention are featured. They're priced about $30 per port, providing a subset of enterprise switch features. Example: Network expansion can require a multiple-switch network with protection against downtime and lost productivity for a 150-node network. Seven SMC8024L2 switches were installed.

Enterprise-level managed switches , like SMC's SMC8824M and SMC8848M TigerStack Gigabit Stackable Managed Switches, have advanced features and performance for the most critical environments, with 300 or more users, workgroups, and backbone switching applications where advanced management and security are critical. These switches have like ACLs, 802.1x for secure network access and SSH, SSL/HTTPS for secure management enabled by Radius and Tacacs+. Traffic prioritization and rate-limiting enable QoS across the network and network segmentation is provided by port and protocol-based VLANs. They're available with Multiple Spanning Tree Protocol (802.1s), and stack-wide link aggregation (LACP). Cost: closer to $100 per port. Example: A large company with a dedicated and trained network management team runs a network in multiple buildings with more than 300 users, anchored by a data center with distributed wiring closets populated with stacked SMC8824M and SMC8848M Gigabit switches. Redundant power, advanced security, and management features ensure maximum uptime.

—Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering editor in chief,

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