1. What is Access Layer Switch?
As the bottom layer of the hierarchical internetworking model, the access layer is also known as the desktop layer. It connects end-users or end nodes to the network, such as PCs, printers, and wireless access points. The access layer is supposed to make it easier for end devices to stay connected to the network no matter where they are. Meanwhile, the upper layer connections must be considered in the design of the access layer. As the first layer and the network’s first line of defense, the access layer must ensure security.
The access layer allows users to connect to application systems on the local network segment. It primarily addresses the requirement for mutual access between neighboring users and provides adequate bandwidth for these accesses. The access layer should be responsible for some user management functions (such as address authentication, user authentication, and billing management) as well as user information collection in large and medium-sized networks.
Because the access layer’s primary function is to allow end users to connect to the network, access layer switches are frequently low cost and high port density. It is generally advised to use low-cost equipment. Depending on the budget and network requirements, both managed and unmanaged switches can be used at the access layer.
2. What Kind of Access Layer Switch should Enterprise Get?
Many factors must be considered when selecting access layer switches, including port density, port speed, security, scalability, deployment and management method, and cost. Let’s go over them one by one.
1. Density of Ports
The number of ports available on a single switch is referred to as port density. Because it connects to a large number of end-users and devices, an access layer switch should support high port density. It is critical to consider how many devices will need to connect to the access layer, and then determine how many switch port numbers will be required for the access layer.
2. Speed of the Port
End users are most concerned with the access switch’s port speed. The majority of access switches include 10/100/1000Mbps ports. The choice between Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet is determined by the specific needs of your network. Fast Ethernet is adequate for IP telephony and data traffic on most small to medium enterprise networks, but its performance is significantly lower than that of Gigabit switches. Furthermore, it is critical to select high-bandwidth uplink ports in case the uplink port is oversubscribed when the required bandwidth exceeds the maximum bandwidth available to distribution layer switches. As a result, you should select access layer switches with appropriate port density and types as needed.
Because the access layer is the network edge, it is critical in security defense. To secure your LAN, access control services such as 802.1x must be supported in access layer switches. Furthermore, access switches should support traffic segmentation via VLANs. To protect against attacks, IP source guard, DoS protection, and other techniques should be provided.
Because the number of users in an enterprise network fluctuates over time, it is critical to consider how many users the network will require in the future. The network design must meet the requirements for enterprise environments in three to five years so that the access switches you select can allow for smooth network upgrades as time passes. Network administrators can stack these Gigabit switches at any time to increase the number of connected devices as the network grows in size.
5. Deployment and management have been simplified
It is critical to consider simplifying network deployment and management of numerous end devices in a high-density access network environment. As a result, access switches should be simple to deploy and manage for network administrators. PoE technology is typically provided as an option for easier deployment, allowing access layer switches to supply power to end devices such as wireless APs and security cameras, allowing for simplified deployment of a large number of access layer devices.
The type of access layer switch is another factor that may influence the cost. If you want to buy a network switch with fiber optic ports rather than rj45 ports, you must factor in the cost of optical modules.
Overall, access switches are supposed to be simple, dependable, and secure. The first step in selecting access layer switches is to assess your business requirements and select a product that best meets these requirements.