Gartner Research

Switching and Routing

Published: 16 February 2011

ID: G00209779

Analyst(s): Jack Stackhouse


Switching and routing in enterprise site and data center networks have evolved over the years. Although enterprise access layer requirements and solutions to provide switching and routing are well understood, the data center is evolving to meet new operational challenges. This Decision Point provides a framework to help network planners describe how switching and routing will be used in their site and data center networks This document also provides the enterprise with a summary of enterprise switching and routing future trends and technologies that could have an impact on its current network architecture.

Table Of Contents

Decision Point

Decision Context

  • Architectural Context
  • Related Decisions

Evaluation Criteria

  • Requirements and Constraints
    • Broadcast Control and Logical LAN Separation
    • Different Network Policies for Different Users, Groups of Users, or Applications
    • Mixed Traffic Within the Network
    • Special Requirements of Data Center Server Farms
    • Resiliency
    • Growth Potential
    • Specific Enterprise Applications
    • Network Security
    • Wireless LAN Access
    • Server Virtualization
    • Single-Site/Campus LAN
    • Data Center LAN
    • WAN
  • Principles


  • Switching and Routing Products
    • Layer 2 Switches
    • Layer 3 Switches
    • Routers
  • Form Factor
    • Modular Chassis Enterprise Switches
    • Fixed Form-Factor "Stackable" Enterprise Switches
  • Switching and Routing Options for Access, Distribution, and Core Layers
    • Layer 2 Switching in the Access Layer with Layer 3 Switching in the Core
    • Layer 3 Switching in the Access Layer with Layer 3 Switching in the Core
    • Layer 3 Switching in the Access Layer and Layer 2 Switching in the Core
  • Data Center Switching and Routing
    • Layer 2/3 Switching in the Access Layer and Layer 3 Switching in the Core
    • Layer 2 Switching in the Access Layer and Layer 3 Switches in the Core

Future Developments

  • Fabric-Based Networks
  • Data Center Orchestration and Provisioning

Decision Tool

  • Site/Campus LAN Switching/Routing Position
    • Deploy Layer 3 switches.
    • Deploy Layer 2 switches.
  • Data Center LAN Switching/Routing Position
    • Deploy Layer 3 switches in the data center LAN.
    • Use Layer 2 switches for server access.
  • WAN Switching/Routing Position
    • Implement MPLS from a carrier that meets business and performance requirements with sufficient geographic reach.
    • Deploy the most appropriate public carrier services that meet business, performance, and cost requirements.
    • Deploy a private WAN backbone by combining carrier services with enterprise switching and routing using MPLS and other WAN services (e.g., wireless, Carrier Ethernet, Metro Ethernet, VPLS, and Internet) to meet business, performance, and cost requirements.

Recommended Reading

Revision History

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