There are a lot of purchases we make in life that lead to buyer’s remorse. Taking the time to do the proper research and weigh out all of your options should always be first priority.
Think about the process of buying a car. You want to find a vehicle that works within your budget and offers features to fit your lifestyle. Most importantly, this vehicle should run efficiently and safely to get you where you need to go.
Finding the right network switch is a lot like buying a good car. You want a switch to be able to meet the needs of your organization and keep your network running efficiently. It’s crucial that you consider what features best support your organization’s unique needs--depending on its size and speed specifications. You wouldn’t want to be stuck driving a rear wheel drive convertible in a snow storm would you? Well, you wouldn’t want to end up with a faulty switch that shuts down your entire system either.
While we can’t advise you on the pros and cons of buying a fancy new car (or assist with the fallout from a less than thrilled spouse when those last minute purchases are brought home), we can help you avoid that dreaded feeling of buyer’s remorse. Below are some important factors to consider when choosing the right network switch for your infrastructure.
Let’s talk about users and ports. Before buying a switch, it’s important to consider how many users your network will be supporting and how many devices will need to be networked together. The number of users you have directly affects the number of ports you will need to have on your network switch. A router port density is limited, so multiple devices including both computers and printers need a network switch to tie everything together. Network switches most commonly come with 5, 8, 10, 24 or 48 ports.
If you have a small business with a few employees, a 16 port network switch should be sufficient. However, if you’re looking to expand your business in the near future, a 24 port network switch would probably be the better choice. The number of ports a switch has is a big cost factor, so you want to be sure you aren’t over or underestimating the number of users or devices you have.
Your basic network infrastructure should also be considered. If you have over 50 users, one network switch may not be sufficient, and you may have to purchase additional switches to keep everything running smoothly.
Do you need Managed or Unmanaged? Knowing how many switches you need is important, but knowing the features a switch can offer is just as valuable. That being said, network switches can be separated into two categories: Managed or Unmanaged. A managed switch can be accessed and programmed by a network manager, both on site and remotely. An unmanaged switch does not allow for a manager to change any settings, and operates automatically according to factory specifications. A managed switch is typically best in larger office settings, while unmanaged switches tend to be designated for home use where modifications wouldn’t be necessary.
Network switches are also divided into Layer-2 and Layer-3 categories. Each type of model has a different set of features. Layer-2 switches are typically better for homes and small offices as they are less complex. Layer-3 allows more control over how the network is structured, and allows a network administrator to separate data and control access to different devices. This can be useful for a larger business with multiple departments.
Your network’s speed requirements are important. In business efficiency is everything. No one wants their network lagging behind. You need to consider how fast you want your network switch to be able to send and process data.
The speed required depends on your users. If they will be transferring large amounts of data using the network switch, it would be best to find one that supports gigabit Ethernet connectivity. However, if users are doing simpler tasks like web browsing or printing a 100 megabit switch may be sufficient.
Affordability is important. While you don’t want to end up paying for features you don’t need, you don’t want to be underpaying and end up underpowered. When considering your network switch options, the scaled growth of your business should be taken into consideration.
The more ports and special features a switch has, the more it is going to cost. For many organizations, upgrades to a larger number of ports and advanced capabilities are essential for keeping the network running smoothly. So how do you upgrade without breaking the bank? One great solution is buying from a company that sells certified pre-owned networking hardware. While buying new is definitely an option, going the used route can save you a lot of money, while still allowing you to find a network switch that has all of the capabilities your business needs.
Just like car depreciation, your new product loses its value the minute you buy it. Most manufacturers won’t even tell you the exact fail rate on their new products. Which is why it’s important to look for a reliability rating of 99.5% or better; validating that the vendor is providing quality product and uses a process that’s trustworthy. Backing your investment with replacement programs is also a great consideration. Some even cost as much as 50% less than SmartNet and provide next-business-day delivery of your hardware – without paying that big price tag.
Though it may seem like a daunting task, finding the right network switch can be made much easier now that you’ve determined your requirements and know what factors you should be considering. So set your budget and get to shopping!
If you have any questions feel free to reach out to the team at CXtec. We work hard to provide you with exceptional value and support so you can find the networking solution to fit your needs.