When designing a network, it is important to select the proper hardware to meet current network requirements, as well as allow for network growth. Within an enterprise network, both switches and routers play a critical role in network communication.

There are five categories of switches for enterprise networks, as shown in Figure 1:

When selecting switches, network administrators must determine the switch form factors. This includes fixed configuration (Figure 2), modular configuration (Figure 3), stackable (Figure 4), or non-stackable. The thickness of the switch, which is expressed in the number of rack units, is also important for switches that are mounted in a rack. For example, the fixed configuration switches shown in Figure 2 are all one rack units (1U).

In addition to these considerations, Figure 5 highlights other common business considerations when selecting switch equipment.