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How to Get More Control This Year: Smart Switching

How to Get More Control This Year: Smart Switching

Brought to you by the Cisco Innovators Program

Could you make a big difference in network performance and security if you had basic management features in some of your unmanaged LAN switches?

If so, smart switches can save you time and your company money.

A smart switch is the lowest-cost and easiest to use managed switch technology [LINK]; it's an entry-level alternative to a fully managed switch. This article reveals where and how a smart switch works best.
Insert Where It Fits

A smart switch is ideal where money or technical expertise is in short supply, and the LAN needs to do at least one of the following:
- Have a higher level of security, reliability, or performance
- Support IP phones, now or within a few years
- Provide wireless access or power over Ethernet (PoE)
- Enable video surveillance, conferencing, or other streaming applications

It's true: knowledge is power. Here are the ways to gain it with a smart switch.
Improve Network Reliability and Performance

You can reduce network congestion and downtime in three major ways:

1. Increase LAN performance and uptime by using smart switch features such as:

  1. VLANs to segment network traffic
  2. Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (RSTP) or STP to prevent traffic loops
  3. IGMP Snooping to minimize multicast traffic
  4. Jumbo Frames support to reduce CPU utilization
  5. The 802.11ad Link Aggregation Control Protocol to dynamically group ("trunk") ports for higher link capacity.

2. Provide more bandwidth to specific applications and users with:

  1. Gigabit Ethernet ports. Cisco® 200 Series Smart Switches provide more ports per switch (density) than typical smart switches, giving your network capacity now and for the years ahead.
  2. Mini Gigabit Interface Converter (GBIC) expansion slots that let you add fiber-optic for Gigabit uplinks. And Cisco 200 Series Smart Switches offer more slots than most traditional switches.

3. Prioritize delay-sensitive services (such as IP voice and video) by using the automated settings or configuring more granular control. For example, Cisco 200 Series switches offer:

  1. Automatic detection and configuration of IP phones to the correct VLAN and quality of service (QoS) parameters
  2. QoS with four hardware queues that you can schedule
  3. Prioritization of traffic by port, VLAN tag (IEEE 802.1p), or IP header (DSCP).

Gain More Control over Security

To easily strengthen the security of a wireless or wired LAN, you can use a smart switch to:

  1. Lock users' MAC addresses to ports, and limit the number of learned MAC addresses
  2. Apply IEEE 802.1X port authentication to control log-in and access

Reduce Expenses in 2011 and Beyond

  1. Save on power. Some smart switches include energy-saving features. Cisco 200 Series switches can reduce power consumption by 32 to 74 percent, depending on the model.
  2. Pay less than you would for a fully managed switch; prices for smart switches are typically in the hundreds of dollars.
  3. Save tomorrow too. Some smart switches, such as Cisco 200 Series switches, have native IPv6 support built in alongside IPv4. Having IPv6, QoS, and uplink expansion slots will protect your investment for years.

Save Hours of Technical Labor

  1. Deploy the switch right out of the box, using its default parameters, or quickly set your own. You can custom configure a Cisco 200 Series switch with key settings and have it running your network in less than an hour.
  2. Apply simple technical skills. No advanced IT expertise is required to manage a smart switch.
  3. Manage the smart switch by its web browser interface. You can efficiently discover devices, configure and monitor ports, and even mirror a port.

Is this the year for a smart investment? You can right-size management by choosing new Cisco smart switches that are purpose-built and supported for small businesses.
Next Steps

Discover the advantages of Cisco 200 Series Smart Switches [LINK].

Find a nearby an experienced Cisco reseller partner [LINK] to help you with your network needs.

Join the Cisco Innovators Program [LINK:] to continue receiving small business-related articles, videos and offers. Already a member? Refer a friend [LINK:]

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