Industrial Switches: Managed vs. Unmanaged Ethernet Switches
As technology integrates more into infrastructure, the need for industrial networking equipment increases. Devices such as network switches play a pivotal role in the network design for city planners and large industrial campuses. The key to an industrial network’s success is the deployment of proper equipment in the proper places. Both managed Ethernet switches and unmanaged Ethernet switches bridge the gaps that allow for proper operations and monitoring of advanced systems. Read more to understand the difference between industrial switches.
Industrial Switches: Managed vs Unmanaged Overview
Within a wired network, industrial switches provide the backbone for devices to communicate within a network. Industrial Ethernet switches allow for dozens of devices to connect within the network while providing flexibility and noise immunity. Perhaps the most important difference in industrial switches is the administrators’ ability to control the level of access devices have to other areas of the network. The level of control decreases the opportunity for a single point of failure scenario. Further, the level of functionality and accessibility that a network requires is the major difference in industrial managed and unmanaged Ethernet switches.
Industrial Managed Switches
Engineers can plug managed switches into a network and experience immediate improvements to remote access, management, and monitoring. These switches use Simple Network Management Protocols (SNMP). SNMP is a major system management tool network engineers utilize daily. Engineers can configure network parameters and troubleshoot issues remotely from an offsite location. Managed Ethernet switches also allow engineers to set data prioritization to manage bandwidth usage. By using managed switches, network engineers can simply control the flow of data and minimize the risk of data floods or other networking issues.
Industrial Unmanaged Switches
Unmanaged Ethernet switches allow devices to communicate within a network but boast less control over the flow of data. Unmanaged switches apply the same processes to broadcast and multicast traffic. However, there is a lack of networking protocols with unmanaged switches. As such, network admins need to be mindful of broadcast storms—times when a network becomes overwhelmed with data traffic. Many professionals do not suggest using unmanaged switches for vital parts of any network. Unmanaged switches tend to work better with edge devices in a network. For example, you can use them to connect routers, access devices, or multiplexers.
As you consider your networking needs and the optimal place for industrial switches, think about the physical network requirements as well. Although managed switches allow better functionality and control, the benefits come at a cost. And while unmanaged switches may appear to be a better value, you cannot overlook the loss of network control.