Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. is an American multinational corporation and a technology company specializing in data and storage networking products. The company's product portfolio spans across Enterprise Ethernet (LAN, WLAN) Switches, WAN (Internet) Routers, SAN Switches, Application Delivery Controllers, Network Security Appliances, Ethernet/Storage Network Adapters and PHY Transceivers. Founded in 1995, Brocade is headquartered in San Jose, California, USA.
A network switch is a computer networking device that connects network segments or network devices. The term commonly refers to a multi-port network bridge that processes and routes data at the data link layer (layer 2) of the OSI model. Switches that additionally process data at the network layer (layer 3) and above are often referred to as layer-3 switches or multilayer switches.
A switch is a telecommunication device which receives a message from any device connected to it and then transmits the message only to the device for which the message was meant. This makes the switch a more intelligent device than a hub (which receives a message and then transmits it to all the other devices on its network). The network switch plays an integral part in most modern Ethernet local area networks (LANs). Mid-to-large sized LANs contain a number of linked managed switches. Small office/home office (SOHO) applications typically use a single switch, or an all-purpose converged device such as a residential gateway to access small office/home broadband services such as DSL or cable Internet. In most of these cases, the end-user device contains a router and components that interface to the particular physical broadband technology. User devices may also include a telephone interface for VoIP.
An Ethernet switch operates at the data link layer of the OSI model to create a separate collision domain for each switch port. With 4 computers (e.g., A, B, C, and D) on 4 switch ports, any pair (e.g. A and B) can transfer data back and forth while the other pair (e.g. C and D) also do so simultaneously, and the two conversations will not interfere with one another. In full duplex mode, these pairs can also overlap (e.g. A transmits to B, simultaneously B to C, and so on). In the case of a repeater hub, they would all share the bandwidth and run in half duplex, resulting in collisions, which would then necessitate retransmissions.
A network hub, or repeater, is a simple network device. Hubs do not manage any of the traffic that comes through them. Any packet entering a port is broadcast out or "repeated" on every other port, except for the port of entry. Since every packet is repeated on every other port, packet collisions affect the entire network, limiting its capacity.
A network bridge, operating at the data link layer, may interconnect a small number of devices in a home or the office. This is a trivial case of bridging, in which the bridge learns the MAC address of each connected device.
Single bridges also can provide extremely high performance in specialized applications such as storage area networks.
Within the confines of the Ethernet physical layer, a layer-3 switch can perform some or all of the functions normally performed by a router. The most common layer-3 capability is awareness of IP multicast through IGMP snooping. With this awareness, a layer-3 switch can increase efficiency by delivering the traffic of a multicast group only to ports where the attached device has signaled that it wants to listen to that group.
While the exact meaning of the term layer-4 switch is vendor-dependent, it almost always starts with a capability for network address translation, but then adds some type of load distribution based on TCP sessions.
Layer-7 switches may distribute loads based on Uniform Resource Locator URL or by some installation-specific technique to recognize application-level transactions. A layer-7 switch may include a web cache and participate in a content delivery network.