Can a L3 switch be used in a WAN environment? What are the limitations?
The answer to this question is very situation and vendor specific. Typically an L3 switch has a smaller feature set than a WAN router. Before using an L3 switch for a WAN application you will need to check whether (a) it has the physical interfaces you require, such as a T1 with integrated CSU/DSU and (b) it provides all the software features you require. Some examples include Frame Relay and MPLS support, packet fragmentation and interleave for VoIP, header compression, firewall capabilities, etc. The features that matter most will depend on your individual situation. In general, most people prefer to buy a full featured WAN router as opposed to using an L3 switch so they don't have to worry about being caught without key features.
This was last published in March 2007
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