Chapter Summary

"Do you use a hub, bridge, or a switch in your network?" That is the question. Although this question might not rival Shakespeare's "To be, or not to be" (Hamlet, Act I, Scene I), it is still a question for the ages, albeit the network age. The truth of the matter is that the answer to this question lies in the statement that applies to all network design questions: "It depends."

I realize that "It depends" might leave you a bit despondent, but rest assured, you have more tools available to you today than those before you, and many people have contributed to figuring out what to do when faced with these types of questions.

You might use a hub, bridge, or switch in your home network of 2 computers and Internet connection, or you might use a hub, bridge, or switch in your office network of 20 computers and a WAN connection. Would a hub work in these environments? Sure. Would a bridge or switch work in each of these environments? Of course, because as discussed in this book, bridges and switches work at the same layer of your network, the data link layer (Open System Interconnection [OSI] Layer 2). The question you need to answer is not "Do I use a hub, bridge, or a switch?" The question is actually, "What is the best choice for the operation of my network today and in the future?"

There is no easy answer, and if there were, I would share it with you here. When faced with a situation with which you are unfamiliar or not sure what to do, talk about it with others who might know. Remember, a standalone computer is not a network, and a standalone engineer is not a network engineer.

We're all in this together.