Network Switches - General Info

Switches are key building blocks for any network. They connect multiple devices, such as computers, wireless access points, printers, and servers; on the same network within a home, building or campus. A switch enables connected devices to share information and talk to each other.

A POE (Power Over Ethernet) switch provides power to the end device over the category cable.  Common usage is for wireless access points and IP cameras to minimize cabling needs.

Unmanaged switches
An unmanaged network switch is designed so that you can simply plug them in and they work, no configuration required. Unmanaged switches are typically for basic connectivity. You'll often see them used in home networks or wherever a few more ports are needed, such as at your desk, in a lab, or in a conference room.

For most automation control systems, only an Unmanaged switch is required.  Allonis sells Netgear as a good performing, high value unmanaged switch.  They are available in 8, 16, 32, 48, 52 ports.  Desktop or Rack mount versions are available.

Managed switches
Managed switches give you greater security and more features and flexibility because you can configure them to custom-fit your network. With this greater control, you can better protect your network and improve the quality of service for those who access the network.

For Video over IP networks, a premium Managed switch that supports Jumbo Frames is generally required to ensure bandwidth is available for taxing video distribution.  Allonis sells Netgear, Cisco and Luxol switches for these purposes.  Most all are rack mount.  The Netgear switches can have each individual port be configured for the specifics of the device type it serves - like Video, Dante, control, printer etc.

Network hubs and switches:
A network hub is a central connection point for devices in a local area network, or LAN. But there's a limit to the amount of bandwidth users can share on a hub-based network. The more devices are added to the network hub, the longer it takes data to reach its destination. A switch avoids these and other limitations of network hubs.

A large network may include multiple switches, which connect different groups of computer systems together. These switches are typically connected to a router that allows connected devices to access the Internet.

What is a router and how does it work in a network?
While switches allow different devices on a network to communicate, routers allow different networks to communicate.

A router is a networking device that routes data packets between computer networks. A router can connect networked computers to the Internet, so multiple users can share a connection. Routers help connect networks within an organization or connect the networks of multiple branch locations. And a router works as a dispatcher. It directs data traffic, choosing the best route for information to travel across the network, so that it's transmitted as efficiently as possible.

How to setup a network switch with a router?
You may find that you need to increase the number of ports that can plug into your router, so you can setup a network switch to connect with your router. Your network switch connects to the router through one of the ports on the router, extending the number of devices in your small office network, such as desktop computers, printers, laptops, etc. that have a wired connection to the internet.


When building a small office network, the two most essential pieces of equipment you will need are switches and routers. Though they look similar, the two devices perform different functions within a network.

What is a switch?
Switches facilitate the sharing of resources by connecting together all the devices, including computers, printers, and servers, in a small business network. Thanks to the switch, these connected devices can share information and talk to each other, regardless of where they are in a building or on a campus. Building a small business network is not possible without switches to tie devices together.

What is a router?
Just as a switch connects multiple devices to create a network, a router connects multiple switches, and their respective networks, to form an even larger network. These networks may be in a single location or across multiple locations. When building a small business network, you will need one or more routers. In addition to connecting multiple networks together, the router also allows networked devices and multiple users to access the Internet.

Ultimately, a router works as a dispatcher, directing traffic and choosing the most efficient route for information, in the form of data packets, to travel across a network. A router connects your business to the world, protects information from security threats, and even decides which devices have priority over others.