The Foundation of Networking:
Switches, Routers and Wireless Access Points ( and some phsically laid cables ( copper or fiber) together with some Networking standards and Protocols
Switches are the foundation of most business networks. A switch acts as a controller, connecting computers, printers, and servers to a network in a building or a campus
Switches allow devices on your network to communicate with each other, as well as with other networks, creating a network of shared resources. Through information sharing and resource allocation, switches save money and increase productivity.
- A managed on-premises switch lets you configure and monitor your LAN, giving you tighter control of your network traffic.
- A cloud-managed switch can simplify your network management. You get a simple user interface, multisite full-stack management, and automatic updates delivered directly to the switch.
Routers connect multiple networks together. They also connect computers on those networks to the Internet. Routers enable all networked computers to share a single Internet connection, which saves money.
A router acts a dispatcher. It analyzes data being sent across a network, chooses the best route for data to travel, and sends it on its way.
Routers connect your business to the world, protect information from security threats, and can even decide which computers receive priority over others.
Beyond those basic networking functions, routers come with additional features to make networking easier or more secure. Depending on your security needs, for example, you can choose a router with a firewall, a virtual private network (VPN), or an Internet Protocol (IP) communications system.
Wireless Access Points
An access point allows devices to connect to the wireless network without cables. A wireless network makes it easy to bring new devices online and provides flexible support to mobile workers
An access point acts like an amplifier for your network. While a router provides the bandwidth, an access point extends that bandwidth so that the network can support many devices, and those devices can access the network from farther away.
But an access point does more than simply extend Wi-Fi. It can also give useful data about the devices on the network, provide proactive security, and serve many other practical purposes.
*Access points support different IEEE standards. Each standard is an amendment that was ratified over time. The standards operate on varying frequencies, deliver different bandwidth, and support different numbers of channels.
To create your wireless network, you can choose between three types of deployment: centralized deployment, converged deployment, and cloud-based deployment. Need help figuring out which deployment is best for your business? Talk to an expert.
1. Centralized deployment
The most common type of wireless network system, centralized deployments are traditionally used in campuses where buildings and networks are in close proximity. This deployment consolidates the wireless network, which makes upgrades easier and facilitates advanced wireless functionality. Controllers are based on-premises and are installed in a centralized location.
2. Converged deployment
For small campuses or branch offices, converged deployments offer consistency in wireless and wired connections. This deployment converges wired and wireless on one network device—an access switch—and performs the dual role of both switch and wireless controller.
3. Cloud-based deployment
This system uses the cloud to manage network devices deployed on-premises at different locations. The solution requires Cisco Meraki cloud-managed devices, which provide full visibility of the network through their dashboards.
When it comes to an Enterprise or Campus these different pieces of building blocks are easy to identify among with other additional devices which serves different functions or purpose in the network ( firewalls, intrusion detection – intrusion prevention systems, load balancers, etc.)
How does it look like in a Home Network
However if You look at Your Home Network most often than not these different building blocks of networking are fusioned into a single device, which is definitely true if You use only Your ISP Provided equipment
For example in my ISP – Movistar one single box they call thise HGU – Home Gateway Unit – includes many functions( 5 different ones) in one single box.
- Router (its WAN port is essentially the Fibre Port and the LAN ports (switch ports are interpreted as a single Bridge ( Bridged ports together Eth1 – Eth4). It handles VLAN tagging as identifies diferent VLAN for different traffic – Internet, Voice , IPTV )
- Switch ( 4 ports Gigabit on this device on the foto)
- Wireless Access Point ( Wireless-5 on this one in particular 802.11ac and newer models come with Wifi-6 802.11ax on )
- ATA Adapter to Convert analog phone connection to IP Telephony (the grey connection labeled Tel) You can plugin an old analog phone and will work just fine. Tried Myself
- A Media Converter – Converts The Fibre Optic TO Copper RJ45 ( previously they were using a separate ONT ( Optical Network Terminal) box which handled this conversion and gave you a RJ45 copper port to connect it to Your Routers WAN Port) ( attached foto)
In My Case the ONT Box is a separate unit and I have it connected to my Ubiquity 5 POE Router and also the Wireless Access Points are separate devices plus additional switches both managed and unmanaged….
What are the Pros and Cons to use my ISP Provided Equipment ( Unless I absolutely MUST)
- Most of the time everything is packaged up for You in one single box
- Plug and Play, You don´t need to do anything at all… Ready to go as soon as You plug it in ( Configured to work optimally and efficiently , with all settings taken care for You)
- If anything happens or experience any troubles, You can just call Your ISP and have them fix it remotely or via a visit to Your home
- Everything they said it comes with should work accordingly ( IPTV service if it comes with that or telephone calls, etc)
- Normally a One Box Does Many Function Scenario is never as good as a single box for a single function scenario. Indeed it is more cost efficient but it comes with losing of features or functions which in a single box single function exists and most often than not the performance and endurance of a single box single function scenario outperforms by huge leaps a One Box Many Function Scenario
- Apart from a Home Setting ( where You have lets says 3 – 5 users max) when it comes to a 6 users or more scenarios like in a smaller office or small business these One Box Many scenario devices just can not keep up with demand ( not in routing not in switching not as a wireless access point)
- There is no scalability and expandability with these One Box Many scenarios.( amount of available ports f.e)
- They are neither Modular or neither allow a modular scenario easily. I can not just add another 24 port switch easy with a stacking cable to an existing 24 port switch and as plug and play it copies my config regarding the ports and gateways or routes I need and Im up and running in no time with an additional 24 port. Same goes for adding an additional wireless access point IF i find myself in the need to cover another floor or another area of the building with poor/bad coverage
- You have no full control what goes on inside the box and/or what flows in and out. The options You can change are few and far between
I think when You weigh these Pros and Cons what comes into account also is the size of Your Home.
If its small enough for one wireless access point to cover it all and Your number of Users are =<5 and You perhaps need no more than 3 – 4 wired devices to be connected and they can run up to this single box without a problem then I would say stay where You are and spend the money on something else.
However. IF You are like me who loves cables and whatever can be plugged via cable will be plugged with cable.. The amount of ports offered on these Single One Box Many scenarios are used up quiet quickly.
If You factor in the size of the lot or house / areas to cover and not only cables / wall ports but wireless coverage has to be extended beyond the reach of this single box provided then You are already in the scenario of a need for an additional/separate Switch and Wireless Access Point.
I like to have various wall ports available in each room and also keeping separate clients/devices from one another ( IP Telephony /Voip on its own VLAN ( Dedicated Wallport) Vs Wall port which is dedicated to a single client or PC to be plugged in to browse the web and access the network in General Vs A Dedicated Port to Connect a NAS Device which will move files back and fort between a Homelab Servers when doing backups and also sharing PLEX Media Catalog to Dedicated Clients and so on and so on )