Cisco is a manufacturer of network hardware products, including switches. A Cisco switch, like other switches made by different manufacturers, is a piece of networking hardware that connects devices on the network and through packet switching allows them to receive and forward data to a specified destination device.
Switches are fundamental elements of any network since they provide the means for data to be transmitted between multiple devices such as computers, wireless access points, printers, and servers among others on the network. Essentially, a switch enables all connected devices on a network to share information and communicate with each other.
Switches can be differentiated between managed and unmanaged types. An unmanaged switch is designed so that they can be plugged in and work without any user configuration required. These types of switches are typically used to provide basic connectivity and are used in small home networks or wherever a small number of additional ports are required, such as in an office, a lab, or conference room.
Managed switches provide additional security features and more flexibility because they can be configured to custom-fit a given network. With this configuration control, a user can better protect the network and improve the speed and quality of service achieved for users that access the network.
A network hub is used to provide a central point of connection for devices in a local area network (LAN). Due to the limit of the amount of bandwidth multiple users must share, the more devices are added to the network hub, the slower the data is transferred to its destination. A switch is used to avoid these network hub limitations by providing data routing functions. A large network will often include multiple switches to connect different groups of users and computer systems together. The switches are usually then connected to a router that enables the connected devices to access the Internet. Switches allow different devices on a network to communicate while routers are used to provide communications between different networks.
Cisco is the market leader in switching hardware and is estimated to have over 50% of market share in enterprise switches. The company was instrumental in developing switch technology (originating many of the IEEE standards for switches) and has a record of over 20 years as a leader in the development of the devices. A Cisco switch is easy to deploy and manage and the company offers features such as zero touch deployment and GUI-based interfaces for configuration and management to centralize network switch management.