Planning Ahead with Network Switches

September 1, 2021 —

If your product deployments depend on network switches for peak performance, don’t place unnecessary burden on your customers – include the switch as part of your solution.

Switches perform a core function on a data network. They control critical functions of connected machines and help ensure the software performs consistently. Giving forethought to the network switch and having it preconfigured with your settings avoids an unnecessary burden on the companies purchasing your product and a potentially lackluster out of box experience.

Too often, though, switches are an afterthought — simply treated as a commodity for the end user’s data center techs to procure. They end up sinking extra time and money into selecting the network switch, which may be a poor investment for your technology’s use case.

The best choice is to allow MBX engineers to spec the right switch and preconfigure it with the latest firmware and use-case-specific network settings to ensure it operates at peak performance and drops right  into place when deployed. This makes it a value-add for your customers — it reduces the time and effort of the implementation and ensures optimal performance.

Why the type of switch solution makes a difference

While most companies understand that they need managed versus unmanaged switches, there are numerous factors around managed switches to consider. They offer a great deal of flexibility and control if configured correctly. For example, managed switch solutions can be customized to provide: greater security for sensitive data; specific performance targets; longevity; and the ability to meet physical space requirements.

So, where should you start? Foremost, ask: What are the primary goals for your network switches? From there, you’ll need to think about configuration requirements to accommodate port counts, VLANs, connectivity, transceivers, form factors — as well as security and performance needs.

For example, a surveillance software company has to make sure its switches provide sufficient network connectivity for attached devices like cameras. Or, an organization tying together infrastructure with hyperconverged clusters would require multiple VLANs to segment the traffic and create redundancy, as well as provide failover capacity.

Other considerations: Transceivers may need to be specially coded for the hardware type to ensure system and network compatibility. Even cables come with decisions to make: fiber-optic, copper, passive or active direct-attach copper.

All of these factors equate to significant amounts of control over switch configurations. That’s why integrated rack solutions are becoming more popular. They’re turnkey systems — right down to the connecting cables — that save time and money.

It pays to work with a partner with switch expertise

At MBX, one of our specialties is engineering and integrating full rack solutions, including switches. Here’s a bird’s eye view of how we do it:

  • Solutions are architected from server to rack based on your needs for speed, port count and connectivity
  • Configured-to-order rack installations include network switches, PDUs and any other requirements
  • Installation and verification of firmware, operating systems, software and anything else needed for operation
  • Labeling and cabling for uniform color coding and routing for ease of use
  • Functional testing to validate products are performing as intended
  • Integrated racks are transported in custom crates

For example, for one customer, we selected a new half-width switch. Using four of these switches only required two units of rack space — which saved valuable, expensive space and added more capacity. Plus, we labelled every single component in the rack and shipped it with a customized installation guide. For these reasons, we earned a “jaw drop” when the installer opened the crate.

Our knowledge and expertise takes the guesswork out of managed switch selection and configuration. We work closely with you to understand your technology’s functionality, and then spec out a complete, integrated solution to ensure you get the right managed switch for your business.

How can we help you with your network switches? Contact us to discuss the right solution to save time and money, while maintaining your software outcomes.


Director, Engineered Solutions Marketing

Liz has worked extensively in the B2B marketing sector for over a decade focusing specifically in the field of computer hardware and software. She has established an impressive knowledge base of AHEAD's products and practices and strives to share this expertise through her publications.

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