Routers and Switches for the Business Manager

The are many different computer hardware terms used in our business environments today. Probably the most prolific and the most confusing to those without a background in Information Technology are “routers” and “switches”. On the face of it they both appear to be playing the same function but to the trained IT expert they perform significantly different roles. Understanding those differences can be important to the business manager as switches tend to ask more from a business budget than a router would.Having a clear idea of how a network operates is the first step to understanding routing and switching. Within your business workplace you may have a number of computers and applications (such as printers, scanners etc.) In order to create cost effective processes where all work stations are talking to each other, you need to ensure they are all connected to the internet and to each other. This is called creating a business network. Traditionally two pieces of computer hardware will connect the network: switches and routers. Though they look quite similar, routers and switches perform very different functions in a network.SwitchesSwitches are used to connect multiple devices on the same network within a building or work environment. For instance, a switch can connect your computers, printers and servers, creating a network of shared resources. At the hub of this would be the switch which would serve as a controller, allowing the various devices to share information and communicate with each other. Through information sharing and resource allocation internal business processes can be speeded up and streamlined and hence save money and enhance productivity.The two types of switches on the market are managed and unmanaged: An unmanaged switch works out of the box and does not allow you to make changes. Home-networking equipment typically offers unmanaged switches.A managed switch allows you access to program it. This provides greater flexibility to your networking it can be monitored and adjusted locally or remotely to give you control over network traffic, and also who has access to your network.Switches are manufactured by all the brand names we have come to trust on the high street such as HP Compaq, IBM, 3Com and Cisco. The individual company web sites can be found online, but it is often more useful to visit an IT distributor or IT wholesaler on the net as you can see a much wider perspective of models which are available, compare costs, and with a respected computer hardware distributor be made aware of up to date changes in technology.RoutersRouters have more to do with interconnecting a device or network to the internet. For example, you would use a router to connect your networked computers to the web and thereby share an Internet connection among many employees. The router will also choose the best route for your information to travel so that you receive it quickly.A router connects your business to the outside world, protects your information from security threats, and can even decide which computers get priority over others.Like switches, routers are manufactured by all the trusted brands such as HP Compaq, IBM, 3Com and Cisco. Again it is worth visiting an IT distributor or IT wholesaler to compare prices, find up to date versions and compare specifications. Depending on your business and your networking plans, you can choose from routers that include different capabilities. These can include networking basics such as a firewall, a virtual private network (i.e. you internal work communications) or an IP phone network.To find out more about buying routers and switches and all computer hardware visit