The industrial Ethernet switch has evolved from its origins as an industrially hardened, low-port-count device for factory data acquisition. Today, these switches serve a continually broadening spectrum of applications and end user industries.
Raw carrying capacity is perhaps the most easily observable change Ethernet has seen over the last several years. 10GbE and even 40GbE are found in a wide variety of platforms. But beyond the speeds themselves, new forwarding technologies that enable all links in a layer 2 domain to be utilized, make for switches that can move an astonishing amount of data.
One of the biggest innovations taking place on the data center end of the network right now involve 25 and 100 gigabit Ethernet. The drivers behind that innovation are the new wireless technologies that are coming to market. The latest generation of Wi-Fi for enterprise is necessitating the need for upgrades in the access layer of networks
Switching vendors are continuing to find ways to genuinely differentiate themselves from each other. As such end users must learn a variety of technical nuances that set switches apart from one another. Not every switch is right for every potential customer, so it's essential to understand the changing landscape before making a purchase.