Suppose you happen to strike up a conversation with a friendly engineer or architect in the construction industry. As an icebreaker, ask them what is the most critical but often overlooked component of any structure. It’s safe to say; that they will undoubtedly agree a solid and stable foundation is the single most crucial component of any design.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Without a proper foundation, even the most magnificent structures will eventually fail. If there are any doubts this generalization is accurate; we can ask our friends in Pisa, Italy, about the importance of a stable foundation. As you can see by the photo, they are well aware of what can happen to a structure sitting on an unstable foundation.

You may be asking yourself, “What does the Leaning Tower of Pisa have to do with Ethernet Switches?” Excellent question. Oddly enough, they are more closely related than you may expect.

 

 

 

Similar to the foundation of any building, the Ethernet switch supports the operations of the entire network. This ideology applies to both the access layer and data center networks. Ethernet switches are the foundation of all network activity and all devices connected to the network. Unfortunately, much like building foundations, Ethernet switches are often overlooked and not given the proper priority in a hardware lifecycle management plan.

Take a moment to think about all the Ethernet switches you may have operating in your network. How many have been stuck in network closets or branch offices for years? Sadly, Ethernet switches are commonly in service for many years past their intended lifespan. This long lifespan may be great for your initial ROI and depreciation model, but it’s ultimately limiting your network’s capabilities from a performance, reliability, and security standpoint.

As we all know, technology innovations move at a mind-boggling pace. In the last five years, we have seen the rapid expansion of LAN speeds at the wired and wireless levels and an exponential increase in the number of devices connecting to the network. The Ethernet switch is the foundation that supports all of these innovations and devices in your network. Ethernet switch manufacturers have rapidly adjusted to these new innovations and continue to deliver hardware and software platform improvements regularly. As an example, see the graph below to understand how rapidly Broadcom’s Tomahawk ASIC has improved over the past decade:

Broadcom's Tomahawk ASIC

Image sourced from: https://elegantnetwork.github.io/posts/A-Summary-of-Network-ASICs/

As you can see by the graph above, the bandwidth increases of these ASIC chips are now outpacing Moore’s Law, which was thought to be mathematically impossible not that long ago.

So what does all of this mean for you? It’s a safe assumption that technology is a crucial component of almost all aspects of today’s business operations. The Ethernet switch and its foundational elements are the backbones of these digital operations, whether on-premises or cloud-based. Are you going to continue building and growing your business on an old, unstable foundation? Remember, that didn’t work out so well for a particular tower in Italy. It’s time to give your network’s foundation the attention it desperately deserves.

The team at Winslow Technology Group can help you construct this solid foundation for your network. Utilizing WTG’s Network Solution Advisory Tool, WTG can provide you with a free one-hour consultation to aid in developing a network strategy. The WTG Network Solution Advisory Tool is a simple Q&A-based review focused on exploring an organization’s networking posture and maturity. Not sure where to start?  Start here: https://www.winslowtg.com

Winslow Technology Group enables our clients to innovate and transform their business by realizing the benefits of data center, cybersecurity, digital workspace, networking, and cloud infrastructure solutions.

 

Want to learn more networking basics? Check out these great resources:

Cisco

IBM

CBT Nuggets “Intro to Networking” series on YouTube

 

 

About the Author
Ryan Deppe
Winslow Technology Group's Specialty Solutions Architect

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