What’s in a Switch?


Geoff Pennington, Layered Tech             

Private Switches / Network Switches


I’d like to take a few minutes to cover the topic of Network Switches. This by no means covers all the options of our switching solutions, but if you know more about it than this, then you should be able to put together your infrastructure just fine. 


From our customers, we get everything from “What is a private switch?” to “How can it help my infrastructure?”  Hopefully below will answer both.


What is a Dumb Switch?

A “dumb switch” is used to describe the simple 8 port switch that does no high level routing, or security.  It is, in all actuality, just a dumb piece of hardware that works as a connection point; much like an outlet in your house does for electricity. 

  • Back-End Dumb Switch

  • What this switch will do is connect 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 net, or maybe you just need the two servers to talk without running up your bandwidth.  This is the typical setup you will get if you do not specify otherwise when ordering servers and switches with Layered Technologies.

  • Front-End Dumb Switch

  • This type of switch will be placed in front of all your servers to serve as a single point of access to your solution.  A front-end switch will also act as a gateway for your bandwidth so all of your servers behind the switch will act as one big pool of bandwidth.  This option is selected by hosts who want to ensure that the unused BW 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?

  • With that in mind, do not think that you couldn’t combine the two.  You are more than welcome to setup a front-end switch to pool your bandwidth then setup a backend 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 of your servers on a rack — or in a particular order.  If you just place an order without specificying, we will set you up with a dumb switch, so you’ll be sharing that switch connection with others.  If you order 2 or more servers you can purchase your own private switch to connect your servers together and/or to 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 this 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.  The 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 your comments are welcome, and if you have a question please let me know! 


Take care everyone.  Geoffrey Pennington


Have a topic you’d like covered?  Just let me know >> gpennington@layeredtechnologies.com


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