Layer 2/3 Switching & Routing

Layer 2/3 Switching & Routing

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Layer 2 and layer 3 are adopted from the Open System Interconnect (OSI) model which is a reference model for describing and explaining network communications. Layer 2 and Layer 3 refer to different parts of IT network communications. Layer 2 is the data link where data packets are encoded and decoded into bits. Layer 3 provides switching and routing technologies, creating logical paths for transmitting data from node to node. The functions of Layer 3 switch combine some of a Layer 2 switch and some of a router. In essence, they are three different devices designed for different applications, which are significantly dependent on the functions they can provide, but they also have some similarities in their functions. The main difference is the routing function.

As network complexity increases and applications demand great functions from the network, layer 2/3 switching and routing offers additional routing functionality .Layer 2 advantages include lower costs, only requires switching, no routing gear is necessary and offers very low latency. Layer 3 devices restrict broadcast traffic to the local network. This reduces overall traffic levels by allowing administrators to divide networks into smaller parts and restrict broadcasts to only that sub-network.

When thinking about Layer 2 and Layer 3 switches, you should think about where it will be used. If you have a pure Layer 2 domain, you can simply go for Layer 2 switch; if you need to do inter-VLAN routing, then you need a Layer 3 switch.

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