How to Choose among Enterprise Switches, Data Center Switches and Home Switches?

NADDOD Abel Jan 13, 2023

Nowadays, switches are no longer exclusive to telecommunications, but can be found everywhere in data centers, enterprise networks, and home offices. Different scenarios require different switches, so there are data center switches, enterprise switches and home switches, among which enterprise switches are more popular. What is the difference between enterprise switches, data center switches and home switches? And how to choose? You will find the answer after reading this article.

What is an Enterprise Switch?

An enterprise switch is an Ethernet switch that provides data forwarding for Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet with management features such as CLI, Web, and SNMP, and operational configuration features (such as display, modify, backup, and restore). Generally, enterprise switches are rack-mounted switches that can support more than 500 information points when they are used as backbone switches.

Overview of Enterprise Switch Types

According to the three-layer network architecture model, enterprise-class switches can be divided into three types: access layer switches, aggregation layer switches, and core layer switches. Among them, the access layer switch is equivalent to the grassroots staff in the company’s architecture, mainly to provide network connectivity for wireless APs, computers, IP cameras and other terminal devices; the aggregation layer switch is equivalent to the middle management in the company’s architecture, and is the convergence point of multiple access layer switches, mainly used to converge all the communication of the access layer switches and provide uplink to them; the core switch is equivalent to the The core switch is equivalent to the top management level in the company’s architecture, and is the hub center of the network, mainly providing a fast and reliable backbone transmission structure through high-speed forwarding communications.

EDR transceivers

Compare Items Access Layer Switches Distribution Layer Switches Core Layer Switches
Features 2 layers switches; Low reliability; Low functionality; Low throughput 2 or 3 layers switches; High reliability; High Functionality; High throughput 3 layers switches; Highest reliability; Highest Functionality; Highest throughput
Quantity in network architecture Typically more than two Typically two or more Typically one or two
Functions Access control, security management, VLAN, Power over Ethernet, etc. Packet filtering, QoS, etc. QoS, redundancy components, etc.
Cost Low High Highest
Switch Type e.g. Gigabit switch e.g. 10 Gigabit Switch e.g. 25G/40G/100G switch

What is the Difference Between Enterprise Switches, Data Center Switches and Home Office Switches?

The above is a look at the enterprise network switch itself, followed by a comparison of the enterprise network switch with the data center and the home office switch for further understanding of the enterprise network switch. So, what is the difference between a data center switch, an enterprise switch and a home office switch?

First, the objects connected by the three are different. Generally speaking, data center switches are mainly used to connect to servers or IP storage; home switches are mainly used to connect to routers; and enterprise switches are mainly used to connect to devices such as wireless APs, IP cameras and computers, such as S3900 series switches.

Secondly, there are major differences in the functions of the three. Among them, data center switches have the most complex and powerful functions, while home switches have the simplest functions.

  • Since data centers require higher density and bandwidth, and have higher requirements for accurate service identification and control capabilities, data center switches generally use technologies such as large cache, virtualization, FCOE, TRILL (large layer 2), etc., to provide higher density and bandwidth as well as higher quality service and control identification capabilities to achieve fast response and no packet loss, ensuring business continuity and system reliability. The data center will be able to respond quickly and without packet loss to ensure business continuity and system reliability. At the same time, data centers have transformed their three-tier network architecture into a ridge-and-leaf network architecture in response to increasing bandwidth growth in the future, with the ridge switch serving as the core of the network architecture and the leaf switch providing network connectivity for servers and more.
  • In enterprise networks, because of the diversity of access devices, both wired and wireless devices, such as printers, IP phones, computers and other devices, so enterprise-class switches are generally used PoE, MPLS, QoS, VPN, etc., with high security management capabilities, each access device to achieve tracking and monitoring management to ensure the security and reliability of the network.
  • Home office is usually no more than 10 people, so most people choose foolproof switch as a home, simple functions, no network management functions, just communication. In a home office network, a home switch is equivalent to just being used to extend the ports of a router and increase the number of users accessed. And because home switches are plug-and-play when in use, there is no configuration management and relatively low cost.

    Finally, there are differences in the prices of the three. Generally speaking, the price of data center switch > the price of enterprise-class switch > the price of home switch.

Should Enterprises Choose Data Center Switches or Enterprise Switches?

In the network architecture, the switch as the core network device, its performance affects the performance of the network, so the switch selection is very important. As can be seen above, both enterprise switches and data center switches are feature-rich, so how should enterprises make a choice? It can be considered from the following aspects. Such as.

Whether you need large capacity backplane bandwidth and wire-speed forwarding rate, if so, choose the data center switch, if its requirements are not particularly high to choose the enterprise switch that can meet the demand.

Whether you need virtualization to unify the management of multiple network devices, if you need to choose the data center switch, if the network equipment is small, no unified management, choose the enterprise switch can be.

Whether you need strong network management functions, if it is a simple inter-VLAN communication, priority queuing services and network security control, generally speaking, enterprise-class switches are able to meet the demand. If it is required to have various advanced network protocols such as routing protocols/ACL/QoS/load balancing, in addition to FCOE, TRILL and other functions, then it is more appropriate to choose a data center switch.

Whether you need to support a variety of services, such as voice, video, data, etc., if you need to choose enterprise-class switch is more appropriate.

In any case, enterprises must start from their own network needs, to the most “beautiful” price to buy a good performance and meet the needs of the switch is the most critical.


After the above detailed introduction, I believe you have a fuller understanding of enterprise switches, and can distinguish between enterprise switches, data center switches and home switches, and make the right choice.