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A Layer 7 switch is a network device that is integrated with routing and switching capabilities. It can pass traffic and make forwarding and routing decisions at Layer 2 speed, but uses information from Layer 7 or application layer.
A Layer 7 switch is also referred to as a Layer 4-7 switch, content switch, content service switch, Web switch and application switch.
Layer 7 switch is primarily a type of multilayer switch that works on Layer 2, but also provides additional functionality of higher order layers. The Layer 7 Switch provides faster means of packet switching based on information present at Layer 7 of OSI model. The information can be a URL, a cookie or SSL session ID.
Some of the type of switching services a Layer 7 switch provides includes:
Cookie Switching: Forwards HTTP or Layer 7 application request to server or destination based on the information within the cookie header
URL switching: Directs application or HTTP request to server or destination using information in the URL text string
Session ID Switching: Connects a client to the same server based on the information in the session Id header