This article explains what a network content switch is and it also outlines the main benefits of using them in your business network. This type of switch is very expensive so its normally medium to large enterprise scale businesses who use them.
The main function of a content switch is to inspect the network data that it receives so that it can decide where on the network that data (or request) needs to be forwarded to. Once this is determined the data is sent to the appropriate server which can handle the data abed return a response if needed. At a network level the data in the request is divided up into packets.
In most cases the switch looks to see what type of application or software the request is targeted at. It does this by looking to see what port the requests is directed at. For example if the data is targeted at an ftp port then the request will be sent to an ftp sever. The main benefit of this approach is that the switch acts as a load ba lancer as it can balance data or requests across the different type of application servers used by the business. In simplified terms and application server is a server that runs an application like ftp or a mail server.
A second major function that this type of switch can perform is to look at the incoming requests and see which websites are targeted. This is important for large enterprises or hosting companies. If for example a web hosting company was hosting several thousand websites the switch could direct requests to the specific servers that the websites are running on. If this did not happen the hosting company would have to run every website on every server.
So in simple terms a content switch is a network device that is used to distribute incoming requests to the servers or websites that can handle the requests.