NEW PURPOSE-BUILT NETWORK SWITCHES are offering more power, longer reach, some router functions, and additional features—all geared to specific use cases. These innovations could translate into fresh opportunities for VARs, MSPs, and other channel pros, but may also shift demand for professional services toward training and away from device configuration or management.
Both ADTRAN and Zyxel Communications, for example, have rolled out switches that up the available Power over Ethernet (PoE). This means that setting up a wireless access point (WAP) or a video surveillance camera may only require running a single cable.
In the case of Zyxel, the switches target IP cameras and physical security devices by offering “things like higher power budgets, extended range, and auto-camera detection and auto-recovery,” says Tri Nguyen, Zyxel product manager. (Pictured above: The Zyxel GS1350 series has specialized PoE software features for surveillance.)
For instance, the reach is up to 820 feet, 2.5 times that of the typical Ethernet limit of 320 feet, according to Nguyen. He adds that the switches will try to restart an unresponsive camera by automatically going through a power cycle.
Vendors are coming out with such specialized switches due to demand. For example, a 2018 report from MarketsandMarkets forecast a 13.1% compound annual growth rate in the video surveillance market over the next five years. Mesh WAPs, another opportunity for the new switches, are growing similarly, according to a 2019 report from Kenneth Research.
Purpose-built switches allow channel pros to serve these growing markets with intelligent solutions for specific applications, Nguyen says. For instance, a switch can see if a camera or access point is up or down, thereby improving operations. The switch can also turn off cameras or WAPs during those times when such devices aren’t needed.
“It really allows you to fine-tune what features you’re offering for either wireless access or cameras for security. The switch becomes very much a controller for all these Internet of Things devices,” says Scott Hobin, CEO of Hula Networks, a networking hardware VAR in San Jose, Calif.
For channel pros, the impact of the new products may be mixed, he adds. On one hand, simpler device management means less need for configuration and management services. On the other hand, there will still be a need for pre- and post-sales consultation as usage expands and end users require training.
The purpose-built switches, Hobin points out, make “the consumer more efficient—provided they get the education.”
Image: Courtesy of Zyxel