NICE AND EASY: What is a “managed” switch?

These days, we’re all IT Directors. The amount of computing power used in the average home far exceeds even the most powerful supercomputers of a generation ago, with network setups that would have had the IT staffs of old shaking their heads. Yet most of us don’t rely on experts, other than “that friend of yours” who knows a little more than you do. That’s because most equipment just works. It’s not 100% self-configuring, but it requires little more than your help in providing passwords and pressing a few buttons to make it work properly.

Of course that’s assuming you don’t need to tweak anything. Some people want maximum performance from their home setups and relish the idea of going into the setups in every piece of equipment they own. It’s true that you don’t find too many people like that in homes, but when it comes to the real IT Directors, the people who run multi-million-dollar setups in offices, that sort of interactivity is critical.

That’s why even something as boring as a network switch can be specially configured. We don’t think much of our network switches at home because they’re very appliance-like; hook things into them and they just work. In offices, however, it can be important for some computers to have more speed than others, or for the connection between two specific points to have more priority. So, some network switches actually have web-server interfaces to let you configure them. That’s what’s meant by a “managed” switch. It’s a network switch that lets you configure every little bit of it.

Do you need a managed switch? If you’re a home user or small office user, the chances are slender unless you’re a total control freak. If you run a large enterprise… you probably do.

Luckily… and you know where I’m going with this… they’re available at Solid Signal.