Buyer's Handbook: Sizing up network edge switch offerings for a campus LAN Article 1 of 6

Assess your business needs when shopping for edge switches

The campus LAN switch market has evolved considerably in the last 20 years. During most of that time, organizations were limited to using proprietary switching features that ran only on the vendor's hardware.

But times have changed. Today, organizations can choose from a multitude of network edge switch options from both traditional and open switch vendors.  

As switch and configuration requirements continue to increase, vendors are providing expanded capabilities in their campus edge switch products. Many campus LAN switch vendors offer features such as Gigabit Ethernet edge ports, four-pair Power over Ethernet (PoE) for powering IoT devices and support for Wi-Fi 6 access points.

With open networking switches, organizations can select their software from an OS developer and the hardware the OS will run on from a device vendor. Open switches offer numerous benefits, including feature sets that often can be customized to meet an organization's specific needs. Some vendors offer both traditional and open networking switches.  

Before selecting a LAN edge switch, it's important to assess the organization's needs. What kind of connectivity is required? Does the network need comprehensive PoE levels that enable VoIP ports, for example, to connect to every switch?

This buyer's guide examines key considerations for evaluating LAN edge switches and the capabilities these products offer. A roundup of products from both commercial and open networking LAN switch vendors provides an in-depth look at each vendor's family of switches and their functionality.

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