Even if the modem has become the main hardware solution used by individual computer users to split the internet and networking resources to a large number of computers, the Network switch is still used, especially by the large companies, for the same purposes. Here are the main characteristics and usages of the network switch and some methods to install those devices in your home.
The most important characteristic of the network switch is the number of ports. Usually, you will have Ethernet ports, a console port and a serial port that can be configured with the CLI feature.
It is also important to have a Gigabit Ethernet port to connect the switch to networks with a large bandwidth. This facility is especially important if you plan to host large webpages, hosted with an unlimited bandwidth solution. Some of the newest network switches also have a slot to use a mini-receiver GBIC, used for a cable connection to the backbone system of your internet provider.
The web-configuring page that can be accessed with any browser, using the IP address of the switch. This is the simplest method, as you will have all the features and configurations of the switch there and you will not need advanced IT notions to configure the hardware even for a large number of computers.
The Command Line Interface uses a connection between the serial port of the computer, and the serial port in the switch, but also the Hyper terminal application with the configuring details offered by the manufacturer of the switch.
You can also use the network switch with a telnet session, but in this case, you will need the support of the internet provider.
A physical network can be split in a large number of sub-networks that are independent one from the other, networks that are called VLAN’s. the computers in a VLAN can be connected to the main LAN network using different switches. The switches that use VLAN’s will create different networks, which have a different broadcast frequency. This way, the latency of the routers is eliminated, and this is the main advantage of a network switch over a modem with the same characteristics.
The VLANs can be created with groups of ports. When this technology was invented, the ports had to belong to the same switch, but the second generation of ports allowed the VLAN to connect computers belonging to different switches. The disadvantage is that the same port can’t be used for different VLANS, and whenever a device is switched from one port to the other, the administrator of the network has to reconfigure the network. The network switch in a VLAN connection can also be configured using groups of MAC addresses, but all the users must be introduced in the same VLAN. Anyway, the VLAN with a network switch as become the most important method used by internet providers to offer their services to the client, offering an increased reliability and a faster transfer speed for all the clients of the network.