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Switch vs Router vs Modem: What Is the Difference?

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Ethernet switch, router and modem look strikingly similar if only judging by their appearance. However, they each play different roles and are deployed for various purposes in a network. So what is the key difference of switch vs router vs modem? How switch vs router vs modem each functions in a network. We would address these issues in this article by explaining switch vs router vs modem from scratch.

switch vs router vs modem

Switch vs Router vs Modem: All Are Major Network Devices

We’ll start from exploring what exactly network switch, router and modem are and the roles of switch vs router vs modem in a network.

modem router switch diagram
What Is a Modem?

A modem is often provided by your ISP (Internet Service Provider) which enables a network access to the internet. In some cases ISPs provide “hybrid” modem/router combination, this device might be power efficient to some extent, it actually limits your network potentials. So suggestion is to request a standalone modem whenever possible to increase the available resources on the network.

What Is a Router?

When connecting more than one device to a modem, a router is generally required. A router acts as the “traffic director” of a network. It takes information provided by the modem and routes it to the devices attached to the modem, then the router creates Network Address Translated ( NAT) internal private IP address to the connected devices so they can be accessed. Devices like computers, game consoles and etc can be connected to a router wirelessly or through network cables. Some advanced features of a router includes built-in firewall to help protect the network from unwanted traffic.

What Is a Switch in Networking?

A switch (such as a 10GbE switch or Gigabit PoE switch) is used to provide additional ports, expanding the capability of the router. A network switch learns the association between the MAC addresses of connected devices and its switched ports. A switch only sends data to where it needs to go, thus reducing the amount of data on the network, thereby increasing the overall performance of the connected devices while improving security. Often connected to a router, a switch will not provide routing capability and should not be connected directly to the modem unless a DHCP server is present elsewhere on the network.

Switch vs Router vs Modem: Similarities and Differences

As standard components in Ethernet networks, switch vs router vs modem bears many similarities, but there are also some key characteristics to set them apart.

Similarities:
  • Switch vs router vs modem are all small plastic/metal box-shaped electronic device
  • They all allow computers to connect to it for the purpose of enabling communication among them via Internet Protocol
  • They all have some physical ports on the front or back of them, which provide the connection points for computers, a connection for electric power, and LED lights to display working status.
Differences:
Router vs Modem

Routers work at network layer 3 of the OSI model, and it deals with IP addresses. A router is specifically used to join networks together and routes traffic between them. When used at home, your router connect the internal local network to your ISP’s network. And it can be connected to your modem (provided by ISP) on one end and to a switch on the other end (local network). Usually, the Internet port on a router will connect to your modem and the rest of the ports are for switches. A modem has a single coaxial port for the cable connection from your ISP and a single Ethernet port to link the Internet port on your router. Modem is used to connect your ISP using phone line (for DSL), cable connection or fiber (ONT).

Router vs Switch

Like we’ve mentioned, a router works at layer 3 of the OSI model, thereby it allows you to connect multiple computers to each other and also allows them to share a single Internet connection. A switch, however, works at layer 2 of the OSI model (there are also some layer 3 switches that have routing capacities), which connects one point to another in a network temporarily by turning it on and off as necessary. Note that a switch only allows you to connect multiple computers into a local network. The following chart illustrates other differences concerning router vs switch.

Router
Switch
Function
Directs data in a network. Passes data between home computers, and between computers and the modem.
Allow connections to multiple devices, manage ports, manage VLAN security settings
Layer
Network Layer (Layer 3 devices)
Data Link Layer. Network switches operate at Layer 2 of the OSI model.
Data Transmission Form
Packet
Frame (L2 Switch) Frame & Packet (L3 switch)
Used
LAN, MAN, WAN
LAN
Transmission Mode
Full duplex
Half/Full duplex
Broadcast Domain
In Router, every port has its own Broadcast domain.
Switch has one broadcast domain [unless VLAN implemented]
Speed
1-100 Mbps (Wireless); 100 Mbps – 1 Gbps (Wired)
10/100 Mbps, 1 Gbps
Address used for data transmission
IP Address
MAC address
Used for
Connecting two or more networks
Connecting two or more nodes in the same network (L2) or different network (L3)
Faster
In a different network environment (MAN/ WAN), a router is faster than an L3 switch.
In a LAN environment, an L3 switch is faster than a router (built-in switching hardware)
Features
Firewall VPN Dynamic hadling of Bandwidth
Priority rt range On/Off setting of port VLAN Port mirroring

Switch vs Router vs Modem: What’s the Connection Sequence?

The simple rule for connecting switch, router and modem is like this: modem-router-switch (access point)-multiple clients. Put the switch behind a router so all devices connected to either the switch or the router can access the internet simultaneously, while placing the switch right after the modem is just as equal to not putting it – it will waste some of your hardware and cables since all your switch ports aside from the two going between the router and modem will be useless to you.

how to connect switch, router and modem

Conclusion

Here we’ve walked you through the basic concept of switch vs router vs modem, as well as the similarities and differences concerning router vs modem and router vs switch. Hope that has clear some of your confusions. For any further solution related to fiber switch or network router, reach us via sales@fs.com.

What Is IPv6 And Why Is It Important?

IPv6 has been around for over a decade but is not yet seeing broad adoption. However, with the imminent exhaustion of available IPv4 addresses, the lack of IP addresses has become a more pressing problem. As the successor of IPv4, IPv6 will not only offer far more addresses, but will address assignments and additional network security features. What is IPv6 and how does it matters? What’s the differences between IPv4 vs IPv6? Let’s get some insight into these issues.

what is ipv6 protocol

What Is IPv6 and How Does It Matter?

IPv6 (Internet Protocol Version 6) is a network layer protocol which allows communication and data transfers to take place over the network. IPv6 came into existence in 1998 and was created out of the concern that demand for IPv4 addresses would exceed availability. IPv6 protocol, which is 128-bits, consists of eight numbered strings, each containing four characters, separated by colon. This gives us an unbelievable amount of unique IP addresses. Despite these, IPv6 protocol also simplifies address assignment (for computers) and provides additional security features. It greatly solves network bottleneck caused by the soaring amount of Internet-connected devices.

Advantages and Disadvantages of IPv6 Protocol

IPv6 protocol is all about future-proofing, with which every current household could have trillions of connected devices, each with their own individual IP addresses, and there would still be plenty of IPv6 addresses to spare, without the need for NAT. Here are the pros and cons of IPv6.

Pros of IPv6 Ptotocol
  • Increased Capacity: of address space—resources are efficiently allocated to accommodate additional web addresses.
  • Efficient Routing: allows for easy aggregation of prefixes assigned to IP networks.
  • Efficient Data Flow: enables large data packets to be sent simultaneously helping to conserve bandwidth.
  • Security: is improved due in part to improved authentication methods built into network firewalls.
Cons of IPv6 Ptotocol
  • Conversion: IPv4 is still widely used and the world is slow to convert to IPv6, the process of making the switch to IPv6 from IPv4 is slow and tedious.
  • Communication: IPv4 and IPv6 machines cannot communicate directly to each other, in the very rare circumstance that they would need to.
  • Readability: Understanding IPv6 subnetting can be difficult on its own, let alone trying to remember/memorize your IPv6 address.

IPv4 vs IPv6: What’s the Difference?

IPv4 protocol consists of four number strings – each containing three digits separated by dots. A standard IPv4 address is 32-bit and allows 4.2 billion unique IP addresses. By comparison, IPv6 uses longer IP addresses: with eight groups of four hexadecimal digits, separated by colons. Hence IPv6 significantly expands the pool of IP addresses. Besides, it also frees the internet from relying on NAT because of the dearth of IPv4. Ipv6 enables all devices to be accessible on the public network for easier management. Moreover, IPv6 is much secure than IPv4 at making sure Internet traffic gets to the correct destination without being intercepted.

ipv4 vs ipv6

What You Need to Enable IPv6

IPv6 has not yet put IPv4 into obsolescence, but we should at least get fully prepared for it. It would be better to make sure that any future PC, mobile device and gigabit Ethernet switch/router support IPv6 protocol. To use IPv6, you’ll need three things:

  • An IPv6-Compatible Operating System: Your operating system’s software must be capable of using IPv6. All modern desktop operating systems should be compatible.
  • A Ethernet Switch/Router With IPv6 Support: Check your network switch/router’s specifications to see if it supports IPv6 if you’re curious. Or when the need occurs, try to grasp network switch/router with IPv6 function.
  • An ISP With IPv6 Enabled:Your Internet service provider must also have IPv6 set up on their end.

Conclusion

IPv6 is rolling out steadily, but slowly. As IPv6-only networks can dramatically simplify network operations and keep costs down, there is reason to believe the trend will continue. It’s important to prepare for the future and get IPv6 working, however, there is no need to race to implement this or worrying about it too much. FS.COM offers IPv6 enabled 10GbE switch and other copper/fiber switch with advanced feature sets that can fit your varying demand. For further information, contact us via sales@fs.com.

OpenFlow Switch: What Is It and How Does it Work?

SDN (Software-Defined Networking) technology is generating huge interest in networking industry due to its ability to add higher agility and scalability for networks. At the core of the SDN technology is the OpenFlow protocol, and SDN with OpenFlow switch promises flexibility and fast configuration of communication networks. So what exactly is OpenFlow and OpenFlow switch? How does OpenFlow switch work to improve network agility and scalability? We try to explain it in detail and clear out the confusions.

What is OpenFlow and OpenFlow Switch?

OpenFlow is a programmable network protocol for SDN environment, which is used for communication between OpenFlow switches and controllers. OpenFlow separates the programming of network device from underlying hardware, and offers a standardized way of delivering a centralized, programmable network that can quickly adapt to changing network requirements.

openflow protocol

An OpenFlow switch is an OpenFlow-enabled data switch that communicates over OpenFlow channel to an external controller. It performs packet lookup and forwarding according to one or more flow tables and a group table. The OpenFlow switch communicates with the controller and the controller manages the switch via the OpenFlow switch protocol. OpenFlow switches are either based on the OpenFlow protocol or compatible with it.

what is openflow switch

How Does OpenFlow Switch Work?

An OpenFlow switch can only function with the collaborate work of three essential elements:  flow tables installed on switches, a controller and a proprietary OpenFlow protocol for the controller to talk securely with switches. Flow tables are set up on switches. Controllers talk to the switches via the OpenFlow protocol and impose policies on flows. The controller could set up paths through the network optimized for specific characteristics, such as speed, fewest number of hops or reduced latency.

OpenFlow Switch vs Conventional Switch: What’s the Difference?

In a conventional switch, packet forwarding (the data plane) and high-level routing (the control plane) occur on the same device. While for an OpenFlow switch, the data plane is decoupled from the control plane: with the data plane implemented in the switch itself but the control plane in software and a separate SDN controller makes high-level routing decisions. The switch and controller communicate by means of the OpenFlow protocol. OpenFlow switch hence boosts the following advantages:

  • With OpenFlow switch, the SDN controller could route non critical/bulk traffic on longer routes that are not fully utilized.
  • The SDN controller can easily implement load-balancing at high data rates by just directing different flows to different hosts, only doing the set-up of the initial flow’s.
  • Traffic can be isolated without the need for vlan’s, the SDN controller of OpenFlow switch can just refuse certain connections.
  • Setup a network TAP/Sniffer easily for any port or even specific traffic by programming the network to send a duplicate stream to a network monitoring device.
  • OpenFlow switch allows for the development of new services and ideas all in software on the SDN controller, as well to accelerate new features and services.

Why OpenSwitch Is the New Trend?

OpenFlow switch is designed to provide consistency in traffic management and engineering, by making control function independent of the hardware it’s intended to control. This combination of open source software and commodity hardware holds the potential for unprecedented efficiency and operational agility, which fitted well in the world where network becomes increasingly diverse and demanding. Enabling OpenFlow on physical switches and move to OpenFlow switch is something that most clients have been working toward. FS.COM switch product line consists of 10GbE switch, 40GbE switch and 100GbE switch that supports OpenFlow 1.3, which can be used as OpenFlow switches in open networking environment.

10G SDN Switch with L2/L3 ICOS, 48*10GbE ports + 6*40GbE ports
40G SDN Switch L2/L3 ICOS, 32*40GbE ports
100G L2/L3 Switch Loaded with ICOS, 48*25GbE ports +6*100GbE ports

Conclusion

OpenFlow switch addresses bottlenecks to high performance and scalability in SDN environments. Providing an efficient, vendor-independent approach to managing complex networks with dynamic demands, OpenFlow switch is likely to become commonplace in large carrier networks, cloud infrastructures, and other networks. FS.COM SDN OpenFlow switch has received great reputations from our customers, for more information, just reach us via sales@fs.com.

Core Switch & Edge Switch: How to Choose the Right One?

Choosing a data switch for your network can be a daunting task, given the myriads of vendors out there who are vying for providing network switches with fancy functions and feature sets. It may get more challenging when deciding which core switch and edge switch to buy: you have to make sure the switch you get is up to date so it can take advantage of latest technologies, and allows you to squeeze every last drop of performance out of the system. So, whether to choose a core switch or edge switch? Let’s go through their functions and roles within a network, and link these with you are gonna achieve, then you may find the answer.

core switch and edge switch

What Is a Core Switch?

A core switch is a high-capacity switch generally positioned within the backbone or physical core of a network. Core switch is also regarded as a backbone device that is vital to the successful operation of a network: it serves as the gateway to a wide area network (WAN) or the Internet, so that you can use it to connect to servers, your Internet service provider (ISP) via a router, and to aggregate all switches. A core switch need to be powerful enough and have significant capacity to handle the load sent to it, which means it should always be a fast, full-featured managed switch.

In a public WAN, a core switch interconnects edge switches that are positioned on the edges of related networks. In a local area network (LAN), this switch interconnects work group switches, which are relatively low-capacity switches that are usually positioned in geographic clusters.

core-edge switch connectivity

How About an Edge Switch?

As the name indicates, an edge switch is a switch located at the meeting point of two networks. These switches connect end-user local area networks (LANs) to Internet service provider (ISP) networks. Referred to as access nodes or service nodes, an edge switch connects client devices, like laptops, desktops, security cameras, and wireless access points to your network. Edge switches for WANs are multiservice units supporting a wide variety of communication technologies, it also provides enhanced services such as virtual private networking support, VoIP and quality of service (QoS). Generally, smart switches and even unmanaged switches are valid options at the edge of your network. But for some downtime-sensitive applications or where security matters, a managed switch can also be equally used at the edge.

Core Switch/Edge Switch Selection: What Exactly Matters?

To select the appropriate switch for a layer in a particular network, you need to make clear specifications regarding current/future needs, target traffic flows and user communities.

1. Future Growth

Switches comes in different sizes, features and function, choosing a switch to match a particular network involves a solid network plan for any future growth. With that in mind, you would want to purchase a switch that can accommodate more than 24 ports, such as stackable or modular switches that can scale.

2. Performance

When selecting a switch for the access, distribution, or core layer, consider the ability of the switch to support the port density, forwarding rates, and bandwidth aggregation requirements of your network.

An edge switch needs to support features such as port security, VLANs, Fast Ethernet/Gigabit Ethernet, PoE and link aggregation. While a core switch also needs to support link aggregation to ensure adequate bandwidth coming into the core from the distribution layer switches. Also, a core switch support additional hardware redundancy features like redundant power supplies, and hot-swappable cooling fans. So there is no downtime during switch maintenance.

FS.COM Core Switch and Edge Switch Solution

FS.COM offers a large portfolio of Ethernet switches including 10GbE switch, 25GbE switch, 40GbE switch and 100GbE switch, each with different port configurations and moderate to advanced feature sets that tailored for enterprise networks and data centers. The core switch and edge switch in FS.COM are presented as follows.

Core Switch S5850-32S2Q, S5850-48T4Q, S5850-48S6Q, S5850-48S2Q4C, S8050-20Q4C, N5850-48S6Q, N8000-32Q, N8500-32C, N8500-48B6C
Edge Switch S3700-24T4S, S2800-24T4F, S3800-24T4S, S3800-48T4S, S3800-24F4S, S5800-8TF12S, S5800-48F4S

All these network switches are tested with the highest industry standard in rigorous environment, for more specifications, just reach out to us via sales@fs.com.

How to Deploy 48 Port 10GE Switch in Data Center?

10 Gigabit network becomes popular as the business is growing, which enhance the deployment of 10G copper or SFP+ switches in data centers. With the rapid evolvement of IoT (Internet of things), cloud computing and other media-rich applications such as Skype, Amazon video, Snapchat and Youtube, the shift from 10G network to 40G has become the new trend. In this process, 10GbE switch with 40G QSFP+ uplink port makes a difference. In this post, the applications of 48 port 10GE switch for data center design will be explored.

Overview on Popular 48 Port 10GE Switch

10GE switch provides high-density 10GE access to help enterprises and carriers build a scalable data center network platform in the cloud computing era. When it comes to 48 port 10GE network switches, Cisco 10GE SFP+ switches maybe the first choice that many users prefer. However, not all network vendors will choose Cisco switches due to their high price. And there are various types of 10 Gigabit switch in the market for network designers to choose from. The table below shows the main details of several 48 port 10GE switches that can be used as ToR or leaf switches in data centers. Network designers can take it as a reference when choosing 10GbE SFP switch.

10GE Switch Mode Port Switching Capacity Forwarding Rate Typical/Max. Power Price
Cisco Nexus 3172PQ 48 SFP+ Port & 6 QSFP+ Port 1.4Tbps 1 bpps 206W/293W $14339
Arista 7050SX-72Q 48 SFP+ Port & 6 QSFP+ Port 1.44Tbps 1080Mpps 127W/251W $21,295
Dell S4810 48 SFP+ Port & 6 QSFP+ Port 1.28Tbps 960Mpps 220W/350W $11334
Huawei CE6851-48S6Q-HI 48 SFP+ Port & 4 QSFP+ Port 1.44Tbps 1080Mpps 216W/245W $6,783
FS.COM
S5850-48S6Q
48 SFP+ Port & 6 QSFP+ Port 1.44Tbps 1070Mpps 150W/190W $3,999

Deploy 48 Port 10GE ToR/Leaf 10GE Switch in Different Size Network Applications

To illustrate how to design the 48 port 10GE switch in practical applications, here take FS.COM S5850-48S6Q ToR/Leaf 10GE switch as an example.

Data Center Applications

48 port 10GE switches are often used as leaf switches in large data center design. In today’s data center, leaf-spine topology and ToR design are the commonly used architectures. And ToR switches are used as leaf switches and they are connected to the spine switches. Just as the following picture shows, FS.COM S5850-48S6Q 10GE switches work as ToR switches and connected to the spine switches (FS.COM 100G switches) using the 40G/10G port.

48-port 10ge switches

Campus network Applications

Of course, 48 port 10GE switch also can act as aggregation or core switches for enterprise campus networks. In the following application diagram, FS.COM S5850-48S6Q 10GE switches work as aggregation switches and connected to 40G core switches and gigabit switch.

48 port 10ge aggregation switches

Scaling Network with 40G Uplink Port on 48 Port 10GE Switch

For a spine-leaf network, usually the uplinks from leaf to spine are 10G or 40G, and they can migrate over time from a starting point of 10G (Nx10G) to 40G (or Nx40G). The 48 port 10GE ToR network switch listed above offer this flexibility, because the 40G QSFP+ uplink port can be configured as either 1x40G or 4x10G and using optics breakout to individual 10G links, allowing many designs easily evolve from 10G uplinks to 40G uplinks or support a combination.

FS.COM S5850-48S6Q 48-port 10GE switch

Summary

The next generation data center network will continue to evolve rapidly over the few years. While with both 10G SFP+ port and 40G QSFP+ uplink port, this cheap 10GbE switch provides cost-effective and high-density data center and campus network solutions, and can meet the ever-increasing demand for network bandwidth at the same time.

Related article: Can We Use Third-party Optical Transceiver Modules for Dell Switches?


How to Select Transceivers for White Box Switch?

White box switch, also known as open switch, has gained popularity in data centers. Because they provide high performance switching and enable users a broader choice in software and hardware purchase at the same time. However, it’s the openness of open switches that leads to other problems: is there any limitation on the use of optic modules for white box switch? How to choose an optical transceiver for open switches?

white box switches

Considerations When Selecting Transceiver for White Box Switch

As we know, open switches vendors usually sell network switches either as bare-metal devices or preloaded with any compatible operating system, as requested by the purchaser. And there are many hardware and software vendors on the market. In order to achieve the desired performance with white box switch, some users may purchase hardware and software from different vendors. For example, one network operator may buy a white box switch from Dell, FS or HPE, but he will get a network operating system from Cumulus Linux. There is no fault of this action, but it will bring another problem—which type of optical transceivers can be used for the switch?

optical transceiver

According to the situation of white box switch on the market, there are two considerations should be taken into account when choosing an optical transceiver for white box switch.

The first one is the operating system (OS) of the switch. It’s known to us that there are various OS vendors like Cumulus Linux, Pica8 and HPE. They develop their own OS for their white box switch to get more market shares. Some of these companies also have their own optical transceiver production line. And some of them do not preclude the use of any industry-standard transceiver, which provide a freely choice for users to source standard components directly from manufacturers or from a broad range of re-sellers. Therefore, the transceivers from the corresponding OS vendor can be used for their open switches.

Another one is the optical transceiver itself. Not all white box switch vendors can provide transceivers for their switches. And some brand OEMs add enhancements to their standardized optic modules, which increases more cost on optics. However, some open switch vendors look forward to seeing an open standard without vendor lock-in. Therefore, cost-effective compatible optical transceivers that follow MSA SFF specification is another choice for white box switch. Among these compatible optical modules, most generic optical transceivers on the market can be used for white box switch.

Optical Transceiver Solution for White Box Switch

White box switches have been the way for web-scale data center operators who are able to drive down the cost and drive up efficiency and flexibility of their IT infrastructure, especially in some big companies like Facebook, Google or Amazon. And there is a growing group of companies that also want the same level of efficiency web-scale operators have achieved. How to realize this? More white box switches are required without question.

White-box switch market is booming. Under this situation, providers like FS.COM supplies 10GbE switch, 25GbE switch, 40GbE switch and 100GbE network switches preloaded with FS OS or Cumulus OS for small and medium size networks or data centers. And all the generic optical transceivers in FS.COM are available for white box network switches.

Related Article: What White Box Switch Means to SDN Deployment