Device Selection Factors

Device Selection Factors
To meet user requirements, a LAN needs to be planned and designed. Planning ensures that all requirements, cost factors and deployment options are given due consideration.

When selecting a device for a particular LAN, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. These factors include, but are not limited to:
Cost
Speed and Types of Ports/Interfaces
Expandability
Manageability
Additional Features and Services


Factors to Consider in Choosing a Switch

Although there are many factors that must be considered when selecting a switch, the next topic will explore two: cost and interface characteristics.

Cost
The cost of a switch is determined by its capacity and features. The switch capacity includes the number and types of ports available and the switching speed. Other factors that impact the cost are its network management capabilities, embedded security technologies, and optional advanced switching technologies.

Using a simple "cost per port" calculation, it may appear initially that the best option is to deploy one large switch at a central location. However, this apparent cost savings may be offset by the expense from the longer cable lengths required to connect every device on the LAN to one switch. This option should be compared with the cost of deploying a number of smaller switches connected by a few long cables to a central switch.

Another cost consideration is how much to invest in redundancy. The operation of the entire physical network is affected if there are problems with a single central switch.

Speed and Types of Ports/Interfaces
The need for speed is ever-present in a LAN environment. Newer computers with built-in 10/100/1000 Mbps NICs are available. Choosing Layer 2 devices that can accommodate increased speeds allows the network to evolve without replacing the central devices.

When selecting a switch, choosing the number and type of ports is a critical decision. Ask yourself these questions: Would you purchase a switch with:
Just enough ports for today's needs?
A mixture of UTP speeds?
Both UTP and fiber ports?


Consider carefully how many UTP ports will be needed and how many fiber ports will be needed. Likewise, consider how many ports will need 1 Gbps capability and how many ports only require 10/100 Mbps bandwidths. Also, consider how soon more ports will be needed.

Factors to Consider in Choosing a Router
When selecting a router, we need to match the characteristics of the router to its purpose. Similar to the switch, cost and interface types and speeds must be considered as well. Additional factors for choosing a router include:
Expandability
Media
Operating System Features


Expandability
Networking devices, such as routers and switches, come in both fixed and modular physical configurations. Fixed configurations have a specific number and type of ports or interfaces. Modular devices have expansion slots that provide the flexibility to add new modules as requirements evolve. Most modular devices come with a basic number of fixed ports as well as expansion slots. Since routers can be used for connecting different numbers and types of networks, care must be taken to select the appropriate modules and interfaces for the specific media.

Operating System Features
Depending on the version of the operating system, the router can support certain features and services such as:
Security
Quality of Service (QoS)
Voice over IP (VoIP)
Routing multiple Layer 3 protocols
Special services such as Network Address Translation (NAT) and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)

For the selection of devices, the budget is an important consideration. Routers can be expensive based on interfaces and features needed. Additional modules, such as fiber-optics, can increase the costs. The media used to connect to the router should be supported without needing to purchase additional modules. This can keep costs to a minimum.

Device Selection Factors
Device Selection Factors
Device Selection Factors 
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