Top 5 Questions for Configuring a Managed Ethernet Switch on a Corporate Network


The NI MES-3980 is a fully managed Ethernet switch (MES) that meets many IT protocols and standards in use today. It features open standards like simple network management protocol (SNMP) and remote monitoring (RMON), which IT departments use to monitor MESs on the corporate network. These features can be enabled through the local switch management software or remotely by your IT department.  This document covers common questions you might encounter when using the MES-3980 on a corporate IT network. 


Note: If you are configuring your own local system without connectivity to a corporate network please refer to Top 5 Questions When Building a Private Network Using a Managed Ethernet Switch.

Before adding any devices to a corporate IT network, contact your IT department and request permission.  The IT department often requests the end device meet specific standards.  To answer specific questions, refer to the NI Industrial Ethernet Switches Datasheet.

Note: The following examples use the MES-3980 Web Console. For more information on how to configure an IP address and open the Web Console, visit KB: Configuring Static and Dynamic IP Addresses

How do I activate SNMP and RMON?

In many cases the first thing an IT department will request of a managed switch is that it use SNMP, RMON, and Dynamic Host Control Protocol (DHCP).  This gives the IT department the ability to add the managed switch to the network, communicate to the managed switch using SNMP, monitor remote traffic and notifications using RMON, and automatically configure IP addresses of the switch and end devices. If you enable SNMP and DHCP on the MES-3980 then your IT department can access it remotely using their software. 

Activating SNMP for IT Communication

Through the Web Console, select SNMP. Then, under SNMP Read/Write Settings for SNMP versions, select v1, v2c, and V3. Leave all other settings at default, unless specified by the IT department, and select Activate.

How can I add user authentication for the managed switch?

IEEE 802.1X is an IEEE standard for port-based authentication for devices connected to network. The MES-3980 is configurable to authenticate hosts including Windows 2000 and XP systems that providing the supporting device software for authentication. 

For IT implementation of 802.1X you need to connect to a Remote Authentication Dial-In User Server (RADIUS) to use the corporate database of usernames and passwords. The network administrator provides this information.

Activating IEEE 802.1X Authentication 

In the MES-3980 Web Console, select Port Access Control >> IEEE 802.1X >> 802.1X Setting. On this page, select RADIUS server for Database Option and provide the appropriate IP Address for the network RADIUS server and Shared Key.  Then select the port that is connected to the corporate network, in the example case this is Port 7, and select Activate.

How can I enable network redundancy compatible with my IT department?

Many corporate networks use Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (RSTP) or Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) to implement network redundancy. The MES-3980 uses RSTP/STP (IEEE 802.1D-2004) for network redundancy and functions as a component within the corporate network.  With SNMP and RSTP enabled, redundancy and network reliability is controlled by your IT department. For Ethernet-based industrial systems that require rapid recovery less than 300 ms, a private subnet is necessary. For these applications the MES-3980 works with Turbo Ring™ communication redundancy.

Activating RSTP for Network Redundancy 

To activate RSTP, select Communication Redundancy on the Web Console and then select RSTP (IEEE 802.1W/1D) for the Redundancy Protocol. Select the port(s) that is connected to the corporate network and leave all other settings at default, unless requested by the network administrator, and select Activate. For more information on RSTP and the specific settings, see the MES-3980 User Manual.

What Type of Redundancy Is Achieved?

This will provide network redundancy so if a layer 3 server or other router on the network fails, traffic to and from the MES-3980 will be rerouted to another router. This does not provide communication redundancy between devices connected to the switch.

How can I setup  virtual LANs?

A Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN) is a group of Ethernet switches and end devices that communicate with one another as if they are on the same physical network. This gives network administrators the ability to create segmentation, strengthen security, and manage bandwidth. The MES-3980 works with port-based VLANs and 802.1Q network-based VLANs. 

Note: Communication between two different VLANs requires a router or layer 3 switch. 

The MES-3980 uses 802.1Q VLAN tagging, a system where traffic for multiple VLANs can be carried on a single physical backbone. A typical host will be untagged members of one VLAN, defined as an “Access Port,” while interswitch connections will be tagged members of all VLANs, defined as a “Trunk Port” in the MES-3980.

Configure a VLAN

Consult your network administrator to determine VLANs supported by your layer 3 routers and switches.  Then add these settings to the NI managed switch through the Web Console.

How can I enable remote alarms?

Remote alarms, including email alarms, are configurable for several System and Port Events. To configure a specific email alarm, Select Auto Warning >> Email Warning >> Event Type and check all the requested events. Then configure the mail server, account, and email address through Select Auto Warning >> Email Warning >> Email Setup.


The MES-3980 meets many of the widely used IT protocols supported today. This means the managed switch will coexist on the corporate network either supported by the IT department or as a remote managed switch with additional features managed by the user or system engineer.

Related Documents

Industrial Ethernet Switches – Managed and Unmanaged

Top 5 Questions When Building a Private Network Using a Managed Ethernet Switch

NI MES-3980 Users Manual

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