Saturday, November 1, 2014
Home » Uncategorized » What’s in a Switch? Network Switches Explained

What’s in a Switch? Network Switches Explained

We often hear questions from customers about “What is a private switch?” and “How can it help my infrastructure?” I’d like to take a few minutes to cover the topic of network switches. This by no means covers all the options for switching solutions, but should serve as an entry point when planning your network infrastructure.

What is a Dumb Switch?

A “dumb switch” is used to describe the simple eight-port switch that does no high level routing, or security. It is, in all actuality, an unsophisticated piece of hardware that works as a connection point, much like an outlet in your house does for electricity.

  • Back-End Dumb Switch – This switch connects your servers on a back-end network so you can setup a private network on internal IPs and communicate between your servers for free. This is a great option for anyone running a huge database they want to keep off the public network. Or, maybe you just need the two servers to talk without running up your bandwidth.
  • Front-End Dumb Switch – This type of switch can be placed in front of all your servers to serve as a single point of access to your solution. A front-end switch also acts as a gateway for your bandwidth so all servers behind the switch act as one big pool of bandwidth. This option is selected by hosts who want to ensure that the unused bandwidth of a single server can be used by another high traffic server, should the need arise. This is also more secure, especially when paired with a firewall.
  • Combining Dumb Switches for Improved Performance – Don’t think that you couldn’t combine back-end and front-end switches. For example, you can setup a front-end switch to pool your bandwidth, then setup a back-end switch to access your database. You can even choose to hook that database up to the front end or not.

What is a Private Switch?

A private switch is a connection point for all servers on a rack. When you deploy two or more servers you can add a private switch to connect your dedicated servers and/or  simply improve your connection time. There are almost endless options when setting up a switch (ask any network architect), so once you get your chance to work with one it will make a bit more sense.

What is a Private Rack?

A private rack is a piece of hardware that is dedicated to your servers and your servers only. A private rack comes with a private switch on the front end, and can be configured however you’d like on the network side. The default is always a backend dumb switch.  You will need a private rack if you plan on growing beyond the 2 or 3 servers you have now, or you have a large infrastructure you want to set up. The private rack is also great for guaranteeing you have space available when you grow.  As you know, it’s always a good idea to plan ahead!

I hope this sheds some light on the networking world and helps you in deciding how to setup your solution. As always, the experts at Datapipe are ready to guide you through architecting your network and a hardware, and the build-out and ongoing hosting management.

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About David Vogel

David Vogel
Digital marketer at Datapipe.