There was this cool guy called Abhimanyu. Lets call him AB.
AB wanted to share his Internet Connection among family members and connect a printer in a common place so that it could be accessible by everyone. He knew that a Network Switch could be perfect for his requirement, but he always thought that a network switch was expensive (especially the branded ones) and it required a lot of configuration (therefore difficult to set up) and hence he might have to call a professional to install it.
But one day, he heard of the Cisco Small Business 100 Series Unmanaged Network Switches. He had heard of Cisco before, and knew that they make some awesome networking equipments. But, he did not know that they had acquired Linksys, and hence now sell all the Linksys products under the ‘Cisco Small Business’ platform. Linksys was also a very popular brand among the SOHO/ Small Business users!
So, AB explored a bit more on their switches. He was surprised to find that they had a 5-Port entry level switch, at an awesome price! But he decided to buy the 8-Port Switch, as that gives him some room to connect more devices in the future, if required.
He found, to his surprise, that installing these switches were very simple – pretty much plug and play out of the box. He just had to power them On! He needed some Cat 5E/ Cat 6 Cables and RJ-45 Jacks, crimp them and attach them to both sides of the cables (he bought a few patch cords too – which were factory crimped and hence could just connect to network devices immediately – but they came in smaller sizes like 1m/2m/5m, etc).
That was all he needed to do! Now he connected all the devices he had at home to each port of this switch. The switch automatically detects them and negotiates the best available speed (10 or 100 Mbps) – he had actually created a Local Area Network by himself! He found that he could connect any network attachable device like Computers, Laptops, Tablets, Wi-Fi Access Points, Printers, IP Surveillance Cameras, Computer Server, IP Phone, etc. Of course, he could connect the Modem’s RJ-45 Port to the Network Switch’s port to enable sharing of Internet Connection among his family members.
If he wants to take the network to the second floor, he could just buy another switch and connect these two switches with a Cat5E/6 Cable and that was it. He could connect any device to the second floor network switch and access the Internet/printer! In fact, he found that one model – Cisco SF 102-24 had an Optical Fiber port (Mini-Gbic port) and through an additional Transceiver (Like MGBLH1 for Single Mode or MGBSX1 for Multi Mode), he could even connect an optical fiber cable between his house and his guest house, which was around 250 meters away. But doing that, would require professional help and hence AB decided to do it later, once he becomes comfortable with his current setup. But the important thing to know was, there was an option of connecting even an Optical Fiber Cable with two of the low cost Cisco 102 Series Switches.
AB had only one problem – The ‘Unmanaged Switch’ tag that this one carried. Is that the reason why these switches were inexpensive? Is he losing something because of not using manageable switches that were slightly more expensive? So, he called his friend who was working at a big networking company, to find out.
His friend asked him one question – how many devices would he be connecting to the network? He said it would be eight devices, maximum and a few more in the future. His friend felt that unmanaged switches would be fine for such a small requirement as there was no scope for sub-dividing the network using VLAN’s etc, in his small network. More than that, the cost of acquiring and maintaining an unmanaged switch was very less, and hassle free. Configuring and maintaining managed switches might require professional help.
The only thing that he might miss was setting up QoS parameters for real time (latency sensitive) traffic like video and voice, as he might use VOIP devices in the future. But AB was surprised to find that the Cisco 100 Series Unmanaged Switches themselves supported the QoS (IEEE 802.1p) Settings – up to four hardware queues. That was enough for his small setup!
If you live in the United States (US), you can buy the Cisco Small Business 100 Series Unmanaged Network switches online from Amazon, from the above links.
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