How to choose an access level switch?


How to choose an access level switch?

First, let’s start with the three-tier network architecture:

The three-tier network architecture is a layering of the existing network structure, that is, the complex network design is divided into three layers – the access layer, the convergence layer, and the core layer. The core layer is mainly used for the high-speed switching backbone of the network; the aggregation layer focuses on providing policy-based connections and is located between the access layer and the core layer. The access layer is responsible for connecting the workstation network including computers, APs, etc. Such a design can divide the complex and comprehensive network into three levels for orderly management.

Acess Layer

What is the main task of access level switches?

Users with the same access layer (access level) have the ability to connect to network applications on the local network. In this case, the need for simultaneous access by several users at once is taken into account. Moreover, the access layer provides the required bandwidth for each of these users. It is important to consider that both in medium and large networks, the main functions responsible for managing users are equally provided, namely:

  • billing;
  • authentication;
  • collection of information.

The primary task of the access layer is to ensure that users can seamlessly connect to the network. Accordingly, such switches are often characterized by a low price and an impressive number of ports. The choice of the type of port is mainly related to the budget and goals of the organization.


What to consider when choosing an Access Layer Switch?

Switches are known to have 24/48 10/100 Mbps ports. They also have a fixed configuration. To have a high connection speed with the backbone or other workgroup switches, the switch can have no more than two 1000 Mbps ports.


Stacking support

When choosing an access layer switch, you need to consider stacking support. Simply put, if there are many computers in the same segment or in the same VLAN, users need fast and stable communication between all devices. In this scenario, the connection of the switch to the backbone is not considered the highest priority, several stackable switches are needed at once.


Number and type of ports

When choosing an access layer switch, focus on the number and type of ports. Typically, the more ports a device has, the higher the cost. But you need to understand that various unforeseen circumstances can happen in the life of any organization. For example, you need to expand the network. For this reason, when choosing a device, consider the number of units that will be connected to it and the backup ports for connecting future devices.

Often, the switch has three types of ports, namely:

  • fiber optic;
  • GBIC/SFP expansion slots;
  • twisted pair ports.

Typically, fiber optic ports are replaced with expansion slots to accommodate growing network requirements. In this case, the switch uses twisted-pair ports to connect to the necessary computers.

If you need to organize a gigabit connection between several switches at once, then you must have one or two GBIC / SFP expansion modules. Backbone switches are used as a combination of workgroup switches. In addition, they provide remote connections to critical switches. In this scenario, you need to have several GBIC / SFP expansion ports at once.