Cisco Business Basics: Expanding Your Network, How to Upgrade with an Unmanaged Switch

"Cisco Business Basics: Expanding Your Network- How to Upgrade with an Unmanaged Switch"

Remember when you first opened the doors of your business. Like most small businesses, your network probably started simple with a modem, router, a small, unmanaged switch, and a few computers. It was all you needed at the time.

Fast forward to today. Business is booming. You have hired new employees and need to connect more devices to the wired network. This calls for a switch with more ports. That is simple enough. The best part is that you can either replace the switch or keep using your existing switch and just add a second one!

Upgrades to your network with an unmanaged switch

Since you need an additional switch anyway, it is the perfect time for some other upgrades. You could add a wireless network, IP phones, and security cameras too. To connect many of these devices, you will need a switch with Power over Ethernet, PoE.

What is PoE exactly?

PoE ports on a switch allows certain devices to be connected and powered simply through an Ethernet cable. This saves time and expense not having to pay for extra wiring for the devices.

The Cisco Business 110 series of unmanaged switches, has 8, 16, and 24 port options with PoE on half their ports. If you want PoE on your new unmanaged switch, look for the 8PP-D, 16PP, and 24PP models.

Keep in mind that not all Wireless Access Points, IP phones, or security cameras are able to be powered by a PoE port, while others can only work that way. So, it is important to do your research and select devices that fit your needs.

As an additional bonus, the 16 and 24 port switches in the Cisco Business 110 series come with a mounting kit. This could not only free up desk space, but also keep them secure.

Moving beyond an Unmanaged Switch

If you have come to a point in your network where you want more than just additional ports and PoE, you may want to purchase a managed switch. Managed switches, like the Cisco Business 350 series, support advanced features including several options for setting up VLANs, port security, authentication, and traffic prioritization.

Need something between the capabilities of the 110 and the 350? Check out the Cisco Business 220 and 250 smart series switches.

How far do you want to expand your network

It all comes down to a few important factors when choosing a new switch. Do you want to simply add more switch ports and PoE, or do you need the extra management, control, and speed of a managed switch? Either way, Cisco Business has got you covered.

Let’s say you’re making use of 5-port unmanaged switch, which is sufficient for connecting the five devices you hard-line in for your business — two desktop PCs, two IP phones and a desktop printer. You’ve used most of your ports, and you even have room to spare. However… should your business need to expand its operations, this doesn’t allow a lot of room for growth. Did you know that instead of having to purchase a new switch with enough ports to accommodate your current devices and those additional ones, you don’t have to replace your current switch? That’s right, you can expand your network by getting another switch with the port count that you need and still use your current one.

Connectivity holds the key

So whether you’re anticipating impending expansion or you simply have more devices you wish to connect, it might be time to give yourself even more connectivity.

But as you expand your network via a switch, there’s more than simply the sheer number of available ports that you’ll potentially upgrade—you’ll also open yourself up to Power of Ethernet, or PoE, capabilities! The beauty of having this option as part of your switch technology is it opens up the possibilities to devices that can be connected and powered simply through an ethernet cable, such as your wireless access points, IP phones, or security cameras to name a few.

One additional reason it might be time to expand or even upgrade your switch is mountability. Should you be strapped for desk space in your small-business setup, switches that have 16 or more ports are built to be rack-mountable, which means you can remove some cord clutter from your workspaces, and mount your switch in a cabinet, tucked away from high-efficiency areas!

What is the future of your business

The question of whether or not to expand your network with a switch or upgrade entirely really boils down to these three key asks—do you expect to expand your operations in the near or long term? Do you have devices that you want or need to power via PoE? And would you value the ability to mount your switch, versus taking up space on a desk?

Thankfully, the sky’s the limit with Cisco. Our 110 Series, includes models with ports as few as 5 and as many as 24, not to mention the ability to connect multiple switches together.

So with the intel you need to determine your up-level quotient, take a second look at your business’s technology needs and make the call to stay the course or upgrade at will!

Thanks for watching this edition of Cisco Business Basics. Happy networking, friends!

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