Your network switch is a purchase that doesn’t lend itself well to buyer’s remorse. A faulty switch can shut off your entire network, slowing your operations to the point of being unable to compete. Although there are no instruction manuals on how to choose the right switch, there are examples of successful companies that you can follow. Here is your guide to weighing the features of a particular network switch against the needs of your business and making the right choice the first time.
The routing requirements dictate the rest of the feature set for a network switch, so look at this component first when considering a purchase. If routing is required, is it static or dynamic? Note that static routing is “fault tolerant,” meaning that you likely need in-house maintenance to fix problems that occur from routing paths. Dynamic routing is more automatic, so consider your staff when choosing between the two types.
Make sure that you evaluate the performance requirements of the switch for speed, redundancy, and network position completely. If you are unsure of what this all means, you can get a good estimate of performance by checking only the high and low ranges for your routing switches. The vendor who is trying to sell you the switch will have the exact numbers; however, make sure that you have a disinterested third party available to tell you what you need. You do not want to overpay for power that your business is too small to use. Conversely, you do not want to be underpowered, especially if you anticipate a scaled growth in the future.
Redundancy is a critical part of the performance of a switch. Ask your vendor where the switch will be in relation to the core of the network. The closer that your switch is required to be to the core, the more redundancy that you will need. All critical switches that are supporting WAN devices and edge switches should have redundancy for top performance.
The physical limitations of your rack space may affect the model of switch that you can handle. In general, you need more rack space the newer that your switch model is. Pay special attention to the heat dissipation requirements. A hot network switch quickly becomes a short-lived network switch.
The support that comes with your new network switch is of vital importance depending on your in-house capacity for IT. Huge companies like HP set the industry standard for 24-hour support. However, if you are trying to save money with a smaller brand, make sure that you set aside hours to coordinate with them ahead of time. Take a look at onsite options as well.
No matter how efficient your network switch, you will eventually have a need for hardware replacement. Make sure that your chosen brand has the inventory on hand to replace all of your parts and the ability to get it to you within a business day. This is industry standard no matter the size of the brand that you are considering.
Take note of the frequency of software upgrades and what they cost. Does your firmware have a warranty? What is the duration?
There is usually very little need to start completely from scratch with a new network switch. Narrow down your shortlist based on compatibility with your current setup.
Following the guidelines above will ensure that you pick the right network switch for your business without having to reconfigure your network to test different models. Network specialists recommend checking the market for updates on your chosen brand at least once every six months. The speed of technology is always accelerating, and once you have made the appropriate initial investment, you have an excellent opportunity for cost-effective upgrades if you monitor the tech landscape.