Layer 4 Switch

What Does Layer 4 Switch Mean?

A layer 4 switch enables policy based switching mechanisms that limits different traffic types and prioritizes packets based on their base application importance. A layer 4 switch is among the types of multilayer switches, and is an enhancement to the layer 3 switch that uses hardware based switching techniques.

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A layer 4 switch is also known as session switch.

Techopedia Explains Layer 4 Switch

A layer 4 switch is primarily responsible for the analysis and control of network traffic at layer 4 or the transport layer of OSI mode. It inspects each packet and makes forwarding and routing decisions based on layer 4-7 data.

Layer 4 switches are referred to as session switches, when they perform tasks in more or less the same manner that a firewall does, by monitoring the status of sessions individually from start to end. Similarly, a layer 4 switch when deployed on a cluster of servers, determines which server the user query should be sent to based on the server loads. It can also identify offline servers and directs traffic accordingly.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.