Router vs. Switch

Not sure if you know if a switch or a router is the appropriate device for your particular networking needs? You’re not alone. Between feature rich switches, fast-enough routers, NFV, and SD-WAN it can be tough to determine which is the best for your situation, even when you know all your requirements.

From Pete Welcher’s detailed breakdowns, here are a few quick guidelines.

Switches are all about speed. If your needs require “VLANs and routing, wire speed, fast, fast, fast. Oh my!” (I’d love to see that on a spec sheet), than switches are the way to go. Switches are generally limited because of the lack of general purpose processing. The benefit is for their specific use cases, they can be lightning quick.

Routers throw a CPU into the mix and are more about potential. If you’re ever going to want things like sophisticated QoS policies and shaping, large routing tables, or non-ethernet connections, a router is your choice.

NFV is a viable convergence option for some deployments, it all depends what kind of performance you require (see the “fast, fast, fast. Oh my!” above).

Pete Welcher comments:

In doing designs lately, I’ve been increasingly running into situations where I have to think hard about using a traditional router or an L3 switch. I’ve made some comments about this topic in prior blog posts, and now it seems worthwhile to revisit the topic in a little more depth. My objective is to stir up some thought and maybe debate about device types and roles, and how they may be evolving.

Read more at: What Do I Need: Router vs. Switch

About the author

Stephen Foskett

Stephen Foskett is an active participant in the world of enterprise information technology, currently focusing on enterprise storage, server virtualization, networking, and cloud computing. He organizes the popular Tech Field Day event series for Gestalt IT and runs Foskett Services. A long-time voice in the storage industry, Stephen has authored numerous articles for industry publications, and is a popular presenter at industry events. He can be found online at TechFieldDay.com, blog.FoskettS.net, and on Twitter at @SFoskett.