Unlocking Network Potential: The Benefits of Layer 3 Switches and Why They're Essential

Posted by The Team at CXtec on Jan 15, 2024 10:54:38 PM

Modern enterprises require an effective network infrastructure to function efficiently. Even a mid-sized enterprise can have a...

Modern enterprises require an effective network infrastructure to function efficiently. Even a mid-sized enterprise can have a network that spans several physical devices, virtual protocols, and Local Area Networks (LAN). Maintaining such an expansive network requires seamless communication between several devices across regions and business units. This is why enterprises must invest heavily in networking equipment to ensure that their multi-connected business environment works flawlessly.

Most organizations rely on the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model to build an ideal enterprise network. This model acts as a standard reference through which devices and applications communicate in a network.

The most common form of communication in an enterprise is based on Layer 2 of the OSI model. A Layer 2 network relies on physical hardware-based Media Access Control (MAC) addresses to communicate between devices. These devices use a Layer-2 network switch that can read MAC addresses for every device. The switch then stores “frames” of data on a forwarding table, transmitting them physically between devices.

In recent years, Layer 2 switches are no longer enough for most business environments. While they perform well in low and medium-traffic networks, they are slow in high-traffic networks. With how complex modern business networks are now, there is an inherent need for a more robust and dynamic network infrastructure.

This is where Layer 3 switches come into play. Layer 3 switches are fundamental pillars for the modern enterprise network. They facilitate efficient data transmission while offering several benefits for modern network architectures.

Understanding Layer 3 Switches

Layer 3 network switches act as both routers and network switches to enable communication between devices over a Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN). They can combine the physical Layer 2 circuits with Layer 3 routing protocols as devices that work on two layers of the OSI model. These switches inspect incoming and outgoing packets of data to make faster data routing decisions.

These devices help meet the networking requirements of LANs and intranets for enterprises. While Layer 3 network switches may look like a router, they always have both networking and routing hardware built into them.

Pro Tip - One way to tell the difference between a Layer 3 switch and router is to look for a Wide Area Network (WAN) port. The switches lack WAN ports, whereas they are standard on routers.

How Layer 3 Switches Operate

Layer 3 network switches can work on layers 2 and 3 of the OSI model. Layer 2 switches use MAC addresses to enable network connectivity while they use MAC addresses to manage traffic over the LAN. The switching functionality of Layer 3 can take either of two forms -

  • Cut-through Switches - Review initial packets to determine destination IP addresses and then send them across based on the initial hardware MAC address. These switches enable faster data transfers in a network.
  • PPL3 Switches - Look in each packet transferring data for each IP address. PPL3 switches function like high-speed routers with built-in hardware for routing needs.

Layer 3 switches can handle multiple tasks, including switching, routing, and Layer 2 functions, such as bridging at each interface. Also, they can manage data flow and limit broadcast traffic. Being extremely robust and scalable, Layer 3 is perfect for high-traffic networks.

Layer 2 or Layer 3 Switches - Choosing What’s Right for Your Enterprise

Large enterprises usually have a mix of both layers 2 and 3 for their networks. Mid-sized organizations must choose between the two switches based on their IT budget. The following will help you to select the best switch for your organization’s network needs.

Criteria Layer 3 Switch Layer 2 Switch
Network Size Appropriate for large enterprises that need a switch to communicate within internal LANs and VLAN business networks Appropriate for smaller businesses that do not need cross-network communication between multiple LANs
Cost More expensive but worth the extra cost if you also need router capabilities More affordable and effective way to save on IT costs for smaller organizations
Scalability Highly scalable solution due to its dependence on IP for data transmission in both internal and external networks Limited scalability because it is a hardware-based networking solution
Security Like routers, they come equipped with security features that safeguard internal networks. No security features and high vulnerability to spoofing attacks
Speed Depending on switching functionality, Layer 3 speeds vary but cross-network communication is much faster Faster than Layer 3 for local data transfer and networking

Layer 3 Switches: Advantages

Layer 3 network switches combine layers 2 and 3 networking within a single device to provide several benefits for businesses. Some of the advantages of building Layer 3 switches include:

  • Enhanced Routing Capabilities: Make routing decisions based on IP addresses and can direct traffic across different business networks. Packets are processed faster than traditional routers, thereby reducing latency.
  • Better Network Segmentation: With VLAN support, the network is segmented into smaller parts to improve security, reduce overall network traffic, and improve network management.
  • Scalability and Flexibility: Enhance scalability of network infrastructure because of communication across multiple LANs to simplify network expansion.
  • Optimized Traffic Segmentation: Prioritize and manage traffic based on preset service parameters to help manage bandwidth usage and ensure that important devices receive priority when needed.
  • Seamless Integration with IP Networks: Replace routers in certain network scenarios to help improve communication between networks and save on IT expenditure.
  • Centralized Network Management: Centralized management of routing and switching functions to simplify network configuration, troubleshooting, and maintenance for enterprise networks.

Refurbished Layer 3 Switches - Networking Excellence with CXtec

Layer 3 switches cost more than Layer 2 switches. Modern enterprises must invest in these switches to meet their increasing IT needs and dual network functionality. These switches cut down infrastructure costs for business when it is difficult for IT to purchase new Layer 3 network switches on shoestring IT budgets.

You can, however, choose refurbished Layer 3 switches for enterprise needs. These network switches can help save on IT costs without sacrificing functionality. For choosing the right switches, IT teams must first partner with a reliable refurbished provider that will test network requirements and help choose the suitable switches for their networks.

Thankfully, CXtec can help!

Through our equal2new® brand, we provide enterprises with refurbished high-quality and affordable network switches.

  • Reliable Network Switches - Our refurbished Layer 3 switches undergo rigorous quality testing to ensure that they are ready for your expanding business environments.
  • Trusted Brands to Choose From - We provide refurbished switches from manufacturers such as HP, Cisco, Juniper, and more.
  • Stringent Quality Checks - Our in-house experts meticulously test all networking equipment and ensure that it is in working condition. Your network is sensitive to disruption and our switches ensure that your network can function without glitches.
  • Customized Solutions and Support - We also help you ensure that the switches you purchase integrate smoothly with your existing network setup and provide technical assistance and support.

Why wait? Get in touch with us today and transition to Layer 3 communication!