Choosing the Right Network Switch for Your Business
Even a small business will have a number of devices that need to be connected. Suppose you have multiple employees with their own phone systems and computers, but they share a printer and scanner. These devices are connected to a local area network (LAN) and company servers, but there needs to be a way to control who is allowed to access different aspects of your company’s network.
For example, you have four departments in your business. Reservations or scheduling need to access your booking system, but you don’t want them getting into the accounting programs. A network switch can control who is able to access what.
That’s one of the things a network switch can do to help your business run smoothly. There are other things, such as keeping bad players from accessing your system using filtering options, while also optimizing bandwidth so that someone meeting with shareholders via a video conference doesn’t lose bandwidth and drop the connection.
Once you know you need a network switch, the next step is choosing the right brand and model for your needs. Our guide helps you know what you need to look at and how to pick the right one.
Questions to Answer Before You Choose a Network Switch
Before you start shopping, you need a quick blueprint that covers exactly what features and network switch sizing are important. Ask yourself these questions.
- How big is your company’s network?
How large is your company’s network? If it’s small, you won’t need as large a network switch as a business with hundreds of employees on different floors.
- How many devices will be connecting to the network and how do they connect?
Take inventory of what devices connect to your company’s network. What types of devices connect? You want a full list, so put time and care into this list so that you don’t forget something.
If you have a printer that requires an ethernet cable, you have to have a network switch with an ethernet port. If your company has rooftop solar panels that monitor production through your internet connection, that may also require an ethernet connection. Make sure you’re inventorying everything that will be using your network. Don’t forget anything.
- Will Your Company’s Future Needs Change?
Will your company’s networking needs be the same in two, three, five, or ten years? If you’re planning to expand as quickly as possible, you’d end up upgrading your equipment often. If you purchase a network switch that’s larger than your current needs or that is easily expanded, you’ll be able to expand without having to first purchase new networking equipment.
Generally, network switches have a lifespan of five to ten years, depending on how well you care for them and what the switch’s quality was. If you know your company will expand before five years are up, pay for a bigger network switch now, as long as you can afford to.
- How Much Can You Comfortably Afford to Spend?
What is your budget? That plays an important part in what network switch you choose, as the cost of a network switch can vary greatly from less than a hundred to thousands of dollars. What drives prices? The features, brands, and sizes all drive the final price.
If you find that a network switch you want is out of your budget, don’t be afraid to look at refurbished networking equipment. Refurbished equipment is carefully evaluated and repaired by experts to return it to like-new condition, but because it still counts as “used equipment,” it’s substantially lower in price.
Steps to Follow When Purchasing a Network Switch
Once you’ve answered the questions above, it’s time to start searching for the right network switch for your business. Don’t just rush and purchase the first you find. You want to take these steps.
- Complete your research.
Make sure you compare as many models as you can and research the pros and cons of each one. As you do, rule out those that don’t quite fit your exact needs. You’ll end up with a few options that suit your company’s requirements and fall into your price range.
- Pay close attention to reputable brands.
You will find surprises when it comes to quality. Sometimes, an unknown company turns out to be a fantastic find. But, you have to decide if the risk is worth the cost. A good rule of thumb is to stick to brands known for being high-quality and dependable.
Here are three brands you should consider as they are the best of the best in network switches.
Arista: Founded in 2004, Arista is an award-winning company specializing in advanced networking with a focus on agility, automation, analytics, and security.
Cisco: Cisco was founded in 1984 by a husband-wife team who both worked at Stanford University and wanted to be able to email each other, but the technology didn’t exist. Their problem led to the creation of Cisco and a multiprotocol router.
Juniper: Juniper Networks was founded in 1996. The company specializes in the connections and security that cloud-ready data centers, automated WAN, and AI-driven enterprises require.
- Read reviews.
Now that you have your choices narrowed down, read a lot of reviews from other companies. See what they think, uncover common problems, and see what happened after that. If there seems to be a common issue with a specific model, see if the brand made adjustments to future models.
One thing to carefully watch is if the company that sold or made the equipment gets defensive. If their go-to response is to blame the customer, you can save yourself a headache and move on. No one is perfect and a reliable business will be willing to admit faults and do everything possible to make it right.
- Purchase from a company that provides a warranty.
If anything does go wrong, you want to know that the problem will be addressed quickly and appropriately. The last thing you want to have to do two months after buying your network switch is to have to purchase another one. A warranty is essential.
Choosing the right network switch for your company takes time and careful consideration. Make sure your IT team, if you have one, helps with the decision-making. You also want to work with an expert in network switches, and BrightStar Systems has the expertise you need.
BrightStar Systems has almost 50 years of combined experience in network equipment. Best of all, we purchase pre-owned equipment, make sure it is in like-new condition, and sell it at discounts of up to 95%. Your business will save a bundle on network switches. Even better, all of the network equipment we sell comes with a one-year in-house warranty. Rest assured that you’ll be getting the best prices on network switches and peace of mind from a fantastic warranty.