Why Get a Power over Ethernet (PoE) Managed Switch?

A network switch (managed or unmanaged) forms the backbone of every local area network (LAN). Switches enable devices on the network, such as desktops, PCs, printers, servers, WAPs, and more, to connect by routing traffic from source to destination. When building a small business network, it may become increasingly difficult to know which network switch to use, especially considering the many different types on the market, each with unique benefits.

Thankfully, when you know the features offered in a (Power over Ethernet) PoE managed switch, deciding the best switch for your networking demands will make this fundamental infrastructure purchase much more straightforward.

What is a Managed Switch?

Unlike an unmanaged switch, a managed switch is a type of network switch that offers admins more control over the network. ‘Managed’ refers to network administrators having ‘management’ access. These control features include:

  • Quality of Service (QoS): QoS settings enable network administrators to prioritize specific traffic within the network, for instance, to keep critical applications/PDs (powered devices) running even with limited network bandwidth.

  • LAN Segmentation: This capability permits the creation of Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs) within the primary network, enabling the isolation of various applications and traffic for improved security and performance.

  • IP Routing: Thanks to VLANs and the ability to route traffic within subnets using IP, scaling the network becomes more manageable.

Managed switches also offer advanced security settings and grant admins the ability to monitor networks remotely, features that unmanaged switches lack.

Since they are a bit more expensive and complex to set up, a managed switch is best if your network is relatively complex (more than ten networked devices) or your needs require things like alerts or scheduled power-downs.

How is a Smart Switch Different from a Managed Switch?

A smart switch (often called a hybrid switch) offers features from both unmanaged and managed switches. Hybrid switches enable network management, QoS, and security but lack the more advanced features of a full-fledged managed switch, such as remote monitoring and troubleshooting. This combination of features works well in small networks, where admins require some level of management without requiring the complexity of a fully managed network.

What is Power over Ethernet?

Power over Ethernet is a revolutionary technology invented in 1997. It is built on existing Ethernet technology and enables power and data traffic to be carried using a single Ethernet cable.

Over the years, PoE technology has grown in popularity and experienced wide adoption in various industries and network setups. This proliferation is likely because PoE offers a simpler method to install network devices without laying out installing power outlets. This feature reduces the impact of scaling up on the company’s network infrastructure budget, even in complex network infrastructures. It makes it possible to install network devices, such as surveillance cameras, in remote areas where setting up power sources would be impractical.

Why is PoE Managed Switch Desirable?

Now that we’ve learned about managed switches and PoE let’s explore why a PoE managed switch is best for most network setups. Essentially, a PoE managed switch supports PoE technology, meaning that it incorporates PoE ports for connecting PoE-powered devices, such as wireless APs, VoIP phones, and surveillance cameras. But why should you get a PoE managed switch instead of a managed switch without the extra capability?

Typically, a PoE managed switch is desirable because it allows IT administrators to better manage the smart devices attached to the network. Network administrators can better control PoE-powered devices on the network with a PoE-capable switch, giving them granular management of aspects of the network that can have bottom-line impacts, like power consumption. This increased degree of control can lead to significant power savings when combined with smart power on/off scheduling features, which allow some PoE devices to power off when not in use. It’s also worth noting that networked devices using poe require heightened security measures to protect them from potential threats by controlling where data is and is not routed within the network, which a regular managed switch offers out of the box.

OSI Layer 2 and Layer 3 Benefits

A managed switch harnesses the full benefits of OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) layer 2 and layer 3 (network layer) to deliver unmatched capabilities. The network layer (layer 3) allows the switch to handle high throughput, high port density, high data traffic, and enormous network traffic and routing functionalities. Layer 3 switching also offers better scalability capability and security & network prioritization features, such as QoS and ACLs (access control lists). The managed switch achieves all this while offering all the features/benefits of OSI layer 2 unmanaged switches.

Industrial Hardened PoE Managed Switch for Industrial Environments

A regular PoE managed switch may be insufficient in specific environments and setups. These exceptions include areas that may not have access to utility power or remote areas that require equipment that can withstand extreme environments, e.g., forests, deserts, dams, or animal protection areas. In these cases, an industrial-hardened PoE-managed switch, such as the BSP-360 Industrial Renewable Power 5-Port Gigabit Managed Switch/Router with 4-Port 802.3at PoE+, can be a great alternative and offers the following features:

  • Green Energy: Power comes from a nickel-cadmium or lead-acid battery, which is recharged by renewable sources like solar PVs or wind. This feature ensures the switch operates with a zero-carbon footprint.

  • IP-Based Power Management: This feature enables remote monitoring and management of how much power each PoE PD is using. It also has a PoE scheduling feature, allowing the PDs to be powered on/off remotely and saving power usage. For example, wireless APs and VoIP phones may be powered off at night when not in use. Power on/power off scheduling also integrates reboots at specific times, which reduces the chances of a PD crashing.

  • Overload Protection: The Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) feature ensures a match between the voltage from solar panels and the battery for effective charging and overcharging protection.

  • Low Voltage Cut-Off Protection: If the switch detects low power input to connected PoE devices, it’ll automatically alert the administrators and power off affected devices to avert malfunctions.

This BSP-360 Industrial Renewable Power 5-Port Gigabit Managed Switch also incorporates advanced features such as smart battery management, intelligent powered device alive check, and remote PoE usage monitoring. Management is straightforward, thanks to its dual support of an in-built web-based management interface and SNMP (Small Network Management Protocol), which supports standard switch management software.

Start Leveraging the Benefits of a PoE managed Switch

PoE-managed switches are game-changers that allow network scenarios that were previously either too challenging or impossible to implement. Industrial-hardened PoE managed switches are now available to cover environments with industrial needs and harsh conditions.

Whether you want to extend your network infrastructure or design something new, a PoE-managed switch can help you alleviate many of the challenges network administrators often face. You just have to choose the right product, depending on your needs and other considerations like environmental conditions or power sources.


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