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Connecting Two Smart Switches with Two Cables: Smart or Stupid?

After years of networking experience, I'm doing a real brain fart on a basic question...

Scenario: I want to join two LANs together that are on opposite sides of the building. Each LAN has its own smart switch. I've run two Cat 5e cables across the building's ceiling, terminating in each LANs patch bay. I ran two cables for backup and redundancy, not 'cause I have too much traffic.

Question: If I patch both cables into the respective smart switches, am I adding backup and redundancy, in case one port or cable fails? Or am I creating a routing problem? (I know that if this was a hub, then I wouldn't want to do this. But I'm blanking on the behaviour of smart switches.)

Additonal info: The LANS are on the same subnet and share WAN and server resources. The switches are 10/100.
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TerrellITC
Asked:
TerrellITC
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2 Solutions
 
lrmooreCommented:
Not a problem. Yes, back and redundency.
No, no routing problems.
Simple answer is Spanning Tree, enabled by default on most switches.
Spanning Tree prevents Layer 2 bridge loops, but provides failover. One link will be in blocking mode, one link in forwarding mode. If the "live" link goes down for whatever reason, the other link will become active.
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pseudocyberCommented:
Alternatively, you could trunk the two of them and possibly have an active/active trunk and if one fails, the link is still up.  Depends on your switches.
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TerrellITCAuthor Commented:
Thanks lrmoore,

Is Spanning Tree something that is setup in the switches configuration?

Thanks pseudocyber,
But I'm unfimiliar with your usage of "trunk the two of them".
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lrmooreCommented:
Most switches have it already on as default, and no configuration is necessary.
What kind of switches do you have?

Some switches can combine two or more uplinks into what appears as one connection to double the bandwidth and provide failover/redundency at the same time. Cisco calls it EtherChannel, others call it trunking.
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TerrellITCAuthor Commented:
The switches are a HP Procurve 4000M and a Dell PowerConnect 3024.
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pseudocyberCommented:
For trunking/etherchannel/bonding/etc. look - in the documentation, look for support of 802.1q.  Many times, connecting multiple switches - the best design is to use two connections which are active/active.  This means traffic can go over either link and ideally is loadbalanced.  If one fails, the link to the switch stays up.

There are a few other things you can play with with spanning tree - you can have two connections open but one in sort of a "standby".  If it fails, the other one is already learned and ready to go.

HTH
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Pascal666Commented:
EtherChannel and trunking are two different things.  EtherChannel allows you to bond two or more ethernet links together to increase bandwidth.  Trunking allow you to run multiple vlans over one link.  Trunking protocols include isl and 802.1q.

-Pascal

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pseudocyberCommented:
You're right Pascall - sorry to confuse people with 802.1q - it is of course VLAN trunking.

However, I'm comfing from a Nortel environment and Nortel calls their equivalent to Etherchannel - Multi Link Trunking (MLT).
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TerrellITCAuthor Commented:
Okay. In the middle of the day, I plugged the second cable into the two switches and brought the network to a halt. Problem went away when I unplugged the second cable.

Do I need to do anything like reboot the switches after making the connections?
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pseudocyberCommented:
I've done that before.

You need to make sure Spanning Tree is running, or you have ether channel/trunking configured, before you plug in the second cable - if not, you create a loop which will crash a network.

Perhaps it would be best to schedule this for after hours ...
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