What Is a Multilayer Switch and How to Use It?

With the increasing diversity of network applications and the implementation of some converted networks, the multilayer switch is thriving in data centers and networks. It is regarded as a technology to enhance the network routing performance on LANs. This article will give a clear explanation for multilayer switch and how to use it.

What Is a Multilayer Switch?

The multilayer switch (MLS) has 10gbe switch and Gigabit Ethernet switch. It is a network device which enables operation at multiple layers of the OSI model. By the way, the OSI model is a reference model for describing network communications. It has seven layers, including the physical layer (layer 1), data link layer (layer 2), network layer (layer 3) and so on. The multilayer switch performs functions up to almost application Layer (layer 7). For instance, it can do the context based access control, which is a feature of layer 7. Unlike the traditional switches, multilayer switches also can bear the functions of routers at incredibly fast speeds. In addition, the Layer 3 switch is one type of multilayer switches and is very commonly used.

Seven layers in OSI model

Figure 1: Seven layers in OSI model

Multilayer Switch vs Layer 2 Switch

The Layer 2 switch forwards data packets based on the Layer 2 information like MAC addresses. As a traditional switch, it can inspect frames. While multilayer switches not only can do all the job that Layer 2 switches do, it has routing function as well, including static routing and dynamic routing. So multilayer switches can inspect deeper into the protocol description unit. For more information, you can read Layer 2 vs Layer 3 Switch: Which One Do You Need?

Multilayer Switch vs Router

Generally, multilayer switches and routers have three key differences. Firstly, routers typically use software to route. While multilayer switches route packets on ASCI (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) hardware. Another difference is that multilayer switches route packets faster than routers. In addition, based on IP addresses, routers can support numerous different WAN technologies. However, multilayer switches lack some QoS (Quality of Service) features. It is commonly used in LAN environment. For more information about it, please refer to Layer 3 Switch Vs Router: What Is Your Best Bet?

Why Use a Multilayer Switch?

As mentioned above, the multilayer switch plays an important role in network setups. The following highlights some of the advantages.

  • Easy for use – Multilayer switches are configured automatically and its Layer 3 flow cache is set up autonomously. And there is no need for you to learn new IP switching technologies for its “plug-and-play” design.
  • Faster connectivity – With multilayer switches, you gain the benefits of both switching and routing on the same platform. Therefore, it can meet the higher-performance need for the connectivity of intranets and multimedia applications.
Multilayer switch

Figure 2: Multilayer switches

How to Use a Multilayer Switch?

Generally, there are three main steps for you to configure a multilayer switch.

  • Determine the number of VLANs that will be used, and the IP address range (subnet) you’re going to use for each VLAN.
  • Within each subnet, identify the addresses that will be used for the default gateway and DNS server.
  • Decide if you’re going to use DHCP or static addressing in each VLAN.

You can start configuring the multilayer switch after making preparations.

  • Enable routing on the switch with the IP routing command. (Note: some multilayer switches may support the protocols like RIP and OSPF.)
  • Log into multilayer switch management interface.
  • Create the VLANs on the multilayer switch and assign ports to each VLAN.

After completing the second step, you still need to offer a snapshot of the routing table entries and list a summary of an interface’s IP information and status. Then, the multilayer switch configuration is finished.


The multilayer switch provides high functions in the networking. It is suitable for VLAN segmentation and better network performance. When buying multilayer switches, you’d better take multilayer switch price and using environment into consideration. FS.COM offers a full set of network switch solutions and products, including SFP switch, copper switch, etc. If you have any needs, welcome to visit FS.COM.

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What Is Structured Cabling And Why Use It?

The term structured cabling is like a buzzword in the cable management world. It plays an important role in dealing with the complicated and specific cabling. As a data transmission system, structured cabling supports data, multiple voices, video, and various management systems such as security access and energy system. Well, what is structured cabling? This article will address the importance of structured cabling and offer some tips on structured cabling installation.

What Is Structured Cabling?

What is structured cabling? Structured cabling is defined as building or campus telecommunications cabling infrastructure. Typically, it consists of a number of standardized smaller elements. In a structured cabling system, there is a structure created by a series of patch panels and trunks. It allows for a connection from hardware ports to a patch panel at the top of the rack. Then, that patch panel is connected to another patch panel through a trunk in the MDA. And the MDA (Main Distribution Area) is the main aspect of structured cabling. It provides a place for all the MAC’s (Moves, Adds, and Changes) to be made with short length patch cords.

Besides, a structured cabling system is specified by some standards like TIA/EIA-568. These standards provide guidelines for data center design, management and operation.

what is structured cabling

Figure 1: what is structured cabling

Six Subsystems of a Structured Cabling System

Generally, there are six key subsystems of a structured cabling system:

  • Entrance facility

Entrance facility includes the network demarcation point, cables, protection devices, connecting hardware, and other devices that connect with the on-premises cabling at the customer premises.

  •  Equipment room

The equipment room is a centralized location to house equipment and wiring consolidation points. It usually serves users inside the building or campus.

  • Telecommunications room or enclosure

Telecommunications room or enclosure should be an enclosed area. It is designed to house telecommunications equipment, cable terminations, cross-connects and distribution frames. Generally, each building has at least one telecommunications room or enclosure. And the size of the telecommunications room or enclosure is various based on the size of the service area.

  • Backbone cabling

The backbone cabling is also called vertical cabling or wring. It offers the interconnection between entrance facilities, telecommunication rooms, and equipment rooms. Commonly, this type of cabling is done from floor to floor, or even between buildings. And the equipment should be connected by cables of no more than 30 m. What’s more, the cables for backbone cabling can be fiber optic cable, coaxial cable, unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cable, and shielded twisted-pair (STP) cable.

  • Horizontal cabling

The horizontal cabling refers to the cabling between telecommunications information outlet in the work area and the horizontal cross-connect in the telecommunications room (TR) or telecommunications enclosure (TE). It contains the telecommunications outlet, optional consolidation points, horizontal cable, mechanical terminations, patch cords or jumpers located in the TR or TE. This kind of wiring usually runs above the ceiling or below the floor. What’s more, both Ethernet cable and fiber optic cable are usually used for horizontal cabling.

  • Work Area

Work Area is a place where work-area components are used to connect end-user equipment to communication outlets. The work-area components are also called cable components, including patch cables, communication outlets, and station equipment.

structured cabling solutions

Figure 2: structured cabling solutions

Why Use Structured Cabling?

Unlike the traditional point-to-point cabling system, the structured cabling system can avoid the jungle of wiring and carry increasing data at high rates. It plays a significant role in communication infrastructure. The following highlights some of the benefits:

Cost effective – The structured cabling is an organized simple cabling system. It can reduce power and maintenance costs, and it avoids spending money on locating and rectifying.

Reducing the risk of downtime – There is a high risk of human error when people managing the multiple, unorganized cabling structure. These mistakes can cause flow disruptions and network downtime. The structured cabling is organized and it’s easy to identify, which can help reduce the risk of downtime.

Time-saving – Structured cabling is flexible that can accommodate moves, adds and changes quickly. It saves installation time as well as maintenance time.

Tips for Structured Cabling Installation

When you install a structured cabling system, you’d better keep these tips in mind:

  • Before the installation, you’d better make a good structured cabling design.It includes planning the cabling patch ways, considering the airflow and cooling issues, and choosing the right cabling solution.
  • There are various devices used in the structured cabling such as Cat5e/6, fiber optic cable, fiber patch panel, copper patch panel, network switch. You can choose different devices flexibly based on your needs.
  • Don’t bend cables beyond their specified bend radius during the installation. The bend radius defines how strong the data signal will flow.
  • Utilizing fiber raceway. It can make sure the validity of cabling and reduce congestion in the termination panel.


After reading this article, have you got the answer for “what is structured cabling?” To put it simply, structured cabling is a cabling infrastructure that provides an organized, standardized approach to cabling. And choosing the right structured cabling solution can have an impact on a range of issues, consisting of data transmission speed, network performance, power consumption, cost, etc. FS provides high-quality products for your structured cabling solution, including Ethernet patch panel, fiber patch cables, and rack mount enclosure. If you have any needs, welcome to visit FS.COM.

Related Article: Basic Knowledge & Tips for Data center Cabling

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SFP Compatibility Guide and How to Use a Compatible SFP Module?

With the development of fiber optic technology, a large amount of compatible SFP transceiver modules have been employed in the data center. However, there are still some doubts and worries about the compatibility and interoperability of SFP transceiver modules now. Therefore, here will have a thorough introduction to SFP compatibility and how to check it.

What Is SFP Compatibility ?

To understand the SFP compatibility, we’d better get to know the multi-source agreement (MSA) first. MSA is an agreement between many different transceiver manufacturers to make standardized products. Instead of being standardized by official standards, SFP is specified by MSA. It defines SFP modules including the size, connectors, and signaling to assure SFP modules are compatible with branded SFP devices. There are also MSA standards for other optic transceivers like SFP+, XFP, QSFP, etc. SFP transceivers meeting the SFP Compatibility requirement are usually compatible across a range of telecoms vendors’ hardware, therefore users can mix and match components from different vendors. In general, if an SFP can be connected to cables and switches correctly, and helps devices run successfully as you want, its SFP compatibility is qualified.

sfp compatibility

Figure 1: compatible SFP

Why Compatible SFP is Needed?

The major manufacturers like Cisco, HP, Juniper and so on, advertise that only the SFP modules with their brand can work with their devices. Of course, using official SFP module is indeed a good choice except for the high price. Whereas the cost is usually an important or even the first factor for consumers when buying some items. Utilizing the official SFP modules means that you have to pay much money than that of compatible SFP.

What’s more, some vendors don’t declare whether their SFP slots on the devices are compatible with standard SFP from other vendors or not. It will bring troubles to users when their device can not communicate with an SFP bought from other vendors.

The compatible SFP is also a standard product as long as it meets the MSA standard. It has the identical function with the official hardware, which is compatible with different telecoms vendors’ devices. So, using compatible SFP means that you can save a lot and don’t need to worry about your devices and SFPs coming from different vendors.

How to Use a Compatible SFP Module?

You may find that a compatible SFP transceiver can not work successfully in the branded switch. This is often not caused by the defective compatible SFP transceiver, but by improper behavior. The following are several guides for you to correctly use a compatible SFP module.

  • Check your transceiver module and device port

Some transceiver modules are easy to be mixed because of the similar appearances. For example, SFP and SFP+. SFP delivers 1Gbps of data and SFP+ supports the data rates up to 10 Gbps. Having the same size, an SFP module can fit seamlessly into the SFP+ port on the switch and vice versa. If you insert an SFP+ module into an SFP port, they will still work but the transmission speed will be limited at 1 Gbps. On the contrary, there will be no connection when an SFP module is inserted into an SFP+ port.

  • Ensure that the SFP modules have the identical wavelength at either end

It is known to us that the SFP module is used for data transmission. The transmission process is that the electrical signals from one side are converted into optical signals, then the lights are transmitted through the fiber and can be converted into electrical signals on the other end of the SFP module. To ensure this process, the SFP modules at either end should have an identical wavelength. So, you’d better look at the specifications of the SFP modules carefully.

  • Choose the correct fiber type

Choosing the correct fiber type is a major factor to make sure the SFP compatibility as well. So, you have to verify the fibers on both ends of the SFP modules, which should be the same type. The standardized colors on the outer jacket of fibers will help you identify them. What’s more, remember using the corresponding fiber cables.

  • Ensure both ports are compatible with the SFP module

It is important that the ports on your devices can accept the SFP modules you want to use. As mentioned above, some brands are not compatible with the SFP modules from other vendors. Even when using the compatible SFP modules, you’d better check the standards of ports firstly.

In-house coding and testing

Figure 2: In-house coding and testing for different compatibility


SFP compatibility is key for you to choose network devices in the market. As a trustworthy and professional vendor, FS.COM can ensure the SFP compatibility and performance. It offers SFP transceivers that can be compatible with almost all the brands. For example, there are cost-effective Cisco compatible SFPs such as copper SFP, GLC-T , etc. If you have any needs, welcome to visit FS.COM.

Related Article: All About Compatibility: Third-Party vs. Brand Optics

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How to Use the Home Patch Panel ?

When building up home networks, we usually need to deal with numerous cables. It is an ideal solution to use home patch panels for connecting cables to various home network devices. However, some people still hold that there is no need to use the patch panel for home. Therefore, this article will give a clear explanation to the home patch panel, why use it, how to use it and how to buy it.

What Is the Home Patch Panel?

To understand the home patch panel, we’d better get to know patch panel first. The patch panel, also called a patch bay, patch field or jack field, is a mounted hardware assembly. It consists of a set number of ports to connect and manage the cables and can be classified into fiber optic patch panel and Ethernet patch panel. The home patch panel is the patch panel used for home networks. The commonly used patch panel types for the home are wall mount fiber patch panel and unshielded Cat5e or Cat6 patch panels with 12 or 24 ports. What’s more, the punch-down panel is popular for home network.

home patch panel

Figure 1: 24 ports Cat5e punch down patch panel for home network

Why Use the Home Patch Panel?

As mentioned above, a home patch panel can provide a centralized location to manage home network connections. It is an indispensable component of the home networking setups. There are three main advantages of using the home patch panel.

Easy for cable management – With home patch panels, all cables can be collected in one place. This allows for easy and organized management of the wired home network.

Convenient for reconfiguration – Because multiple cables are terminated on the patch panel, the networking devices like switches won’t be disturbed when adding or removing some cables. And the patch panel’s ports are usually labeled. Therefore, it is convenient for you to make some changes of the cable.

Reducing wear of devices – Users can complete the connections on the patch panel, and there is no need to plug or unplug the cables directly and frequently from the devices. Thus, using the home patch panel helps reduce the wear of home network devices.

How to Use the Home Patch Panel?

Before installing a patch panel at home, you’d better ask yourself several questions. For example, which room do you want to be wired? how many ports do you want in each location? What is the good location for distribution? And What network speed do you need? Then you can start installing the home patch panel and there are specified steps:

  1. You need cable stripping tools and remove the outside protective jacket about 3-6 inches from the cable.
  2. Separate the cable wire pairs and straighten the ends for easy termination.
  3. Insert the cables wires into the ports on the home patch panel.
  4. Utilize a punch down tool with 110 blades to terminate each cable wire individually.
  5. Make sure the cable to the patch panel with a zip tie.
  6. Check if all the cable wires are correctly terminated with a cable tester.
  7. Once you have completed the steps above, you can install the patch panel into the racks.
installing a home patch panel

Figure 2: installing a home patch panel

How to Buy the Home Patch Panel?

When buying a home patch panel in the market, you’ll find there are lots of choices. You’d better take the styles, cable types, number of ports, etc. into consideration and choose the appropriate one based on the function and performance you actually need. In addition, do not mix the patch panels for home network and patch panels for the enterprise network. As mentioned above, an unshielded Cat5e/6 patch panel with 12 or 24 ports and wall mount network patch panels are suitable for home networks. And the punch-down panels are suggested. While rack mounted shielded Cat6a or Cat7 patch panels with 48 ports are ideal for the enterprise network. And it’s better to use feed-through panels. If you want to know more information, welcome to visit FS.COM.

Related Articles:
Best Patch Panel Cable Management Techniques
Should We Choose Punch Down or Feedthrough Patch Panel?

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Network Patch Panel Wiki: What’s It? Why Use It? How to Buy It?

Now we often need to deal with lots of cables when building up networks for data centers, offices, or homes. And it is best practice to use network patch panels for connecting these cables to various networking devices. However, there are still people who think this is redundant, unaware of the benefits of a network patch panel. Therefore here will have a thorough introduction to the network patch panel and its benefits, and give some tips on buying the best network patch panels.

network patch panel

What Is A Network Patch Panel?

The network patch panel is a passive mounted hardware assembly with multiple ports to connect and manage input and output cables that need to be connected to the networking hardware. It is usually attached to network racks, either above or below network switches or servers. Now there are many types of network patch panels designed for various applications. For example, there are Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a, and Cat7 Ethernet patch panels for specific cable specifications. While according to the number of ports, 12-port, 24-port, and 48-port patch panels are also available. In addition, there are also unshielded and shielded patch panels, punch-down and feed-through patch panels.

Why Use A Network Patch Panel?

As mentioned above, a network patch panel servers as a static switchboard which connects numerous devices to a central server, switch or other critical hardware. If we don’t use it, we’ll have to run Ethernet cables from each device directly into the central hardware. Moreover, every time we want to reconfigure the network or cabling for more devices, it will be difficult for us to find out the right cables, unplug them and connect them to the new devices. Besides, network patch panels also benefit us a lot in the following aspects:

Easy for Cable Management and Identification

With network patch panels, all Ethernet cables can go into one central cabling location. This helps to keep the cabling system tidy and organized, avoiding cables from becoming tangled and messy. In addition, patch panels’ ports are often labeled, which allows us to better identify which cable comes from where.

Convenient for Reconfiguration and Troubleshooting

Since all cables are terminated on the network patch panel, the switch or server won’t be disturbed when small changes are made with the cabling. Furthermore, these changes can be made easily and quickly. As for troubleshooting, the clearly labeled ports make it easier to locate cables which need to be tested or replaced.

Reduced Risk of Outage

As we all know, there is a risk of damaging the surrounding cables when adding or removing a networking hardware. However, the usage of network patch panels can greatly reduce the risk of unplanned outages by making it easy to add and remove cables without touching the main hardware.

How to Buy A Network Patch Panel?

When buying a network patch panel in the market, you’ll find there are many options in terms of styles, cable types, number of ports, etc. It’s easy task to decide which cable type you use and how many ports you need for your cabling. However, you’d better be careful in choosing between network patch panels for home and patch panels for enterprise network or data center.

If you want to buy a network patch panel for home or small office, an unshielded Cat5e or Cat6 patch panel with 12 or 24 ports is often enough. And for most home users, they often choose the punch-down panel rather than a feed-through one for its cheaper price. If you buy a punch-down one, you’ll need to wire the patch panel by yourselves. Further more, wall-mounted network patch panels are also popular for home networks. For enterprise network or data center users, it’s better to use rack mounted shielded 48 port Cat6a or Cat7 patch panels. And the feed-through ones are also suggested. For more information on buying punch-down or feed-through panels, read Should We Choose Punch-Down or Feed-through Patch Panel?

Related Articles:

How to Install Patch Panel and Switch?
How to Wire Cat5e Patch Panels?
Cat6 Patch Panel: Shielded vs Unshielded
48-port Patch Panel Recommendations

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