Switch Selection for Small Film Production WorkGroup

Posted on 2004-08-15
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-11
I've been tasked with the revamp of our novice network. We currently have 8 workstations (3 Mac, 5 PC), a slew of FW drives, and a networked multi-function printer/copier.

We are adding a MS SBServer which will act as our business and interactive media storage in addition to running exchange, ftp, and low volume web content.

My first challenge is trying to figure out which swtich will work for our work group. The editing stations share/access large media files across the network and will be adding storage (ide raid array, not sure if these are stand alone or connected to workstation).

Most of the workstations have giganet cards in them.

First Question:
Which switch will be suitable for our needs? Managed or Unmanaged? Brand? We are on a budget!

I am assuming this will be built out with the SBS Server sitting off the switch and the group plugged into it. Our current connectivity is 800Kbps cable modem which has been fine for our needs.

Second Question:
How do I structure the network? I realize that is a loaded question but I have to start somewhere. TIA
Question by:Van_G
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LVL 15

Expert Comment

ID: 11804212
Hi Van_G,

Simple question, complicated answer.

Given that you'll be transferring large files across the network, I'd say you need to be looking at a Gigabit switch.

In your environment, I wouldn't see the point in spending a lot of money on a managed switch.  It'll tell you lots of things about your network, and give you a great deal of control - but I don't think you really need it.

You didn't say which country you're in, so I can't look at comparitive pricing for you.

One thing I will say, is that you generally get what you pay for - and switches are no exception to this.  You need to consider the total switching capacity (backplane speed) as this will help you understand what contention you'll get.

If I was pressed for a snap decision, I'd say look at the Linksys range of switches

As for the arrangement of everything - just plug the server, printer and workstations into the switch.
LVL 15

Assisted Solution

scampgb earned 800 total points
ID: 11804224

Further to my last post, http://www.linksys.com/products/product.asp?grid=35&scid=42&prid=568 would seem to do the job nicely.

You should also look at D-Link and Netgear.  Example switches are:

Expert Comment

ID: 11804233
I am not clear on how your Internet connection works. Does the modem connect via a router or directly into a PC?

You need to consider purchasing a firewall, to protect your information from the rest of the world.
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Assisted Solution

syn_ack_fin earned 400 total points
ID: 11809668
Which switch will be suitable for our needs?
Given the need to transfer large files and the capacity for gigabit on the workstations now, I'd suggest a gigabt switch.

Managed or Unmanaged?
No need for management on such a small network as there is no need for seperate VLAN's.


How do I structure the network?
Unless there is information you are not sharing, you don't need much structure on such a small network. A flat IP structure with all systems connecting to one switch should be fine.

Good Luck.


Author Comment

ID: 11823701
Thanks for the replies.

scampgb, I'm in Canada with access to American pick up as well.

I guess the real question is how much bandwidth do I need? 32, 48, or 72 Gbps

Our connection to the internet is a cable modem (dynamic IP). The colo webserver will have mail forwarded to the exchange server.

So I'm assuming cable modem gets connected to firewall which connects to switch. Other systems including SBD is connected to the switch. FW would forward ports accordingly. Each machine would have an IP like 192.168.0.*** and the same subnet.

Is there a better IP range to use for the internal network?

Accepted Solution

fatlad earned 800 total points
ID: 11828087

You are right the network should look somehting like:

                                                  t----PC workstations (1 per port)
                        printer------------- c
                                                  h--MAC workstations (1 per port)

The backplane speed will not make much difference to you at the moment, I calculate that you will have a maximum of 9 GigE devices (if all workstations and servers have GigE connections) plus printers etc that will probably not get anywhere near 32GB.

The internal IP address range will be fine with any rfc1918 address so 192.168.0.x is fine. You could if you where being picky subnet this further because you only have a small number of devices but I would be inclinded to keep the mask as a /24 for simplicity of trouble shouting. It gives you the whole fourth octave to play with, without acidentally configuring something to be on the next subnet (can take ages to spot and you will really kick yourself when you realise what you have done!).

The firewall will have to perform PAT translating from the one external "real" IP to the multiple internal local ones, unless you are planning on proxying web traffic?

The only worrry I have is where you talk about the colo webserver forwarding email to you, yet you also say you will have a dynamic Internet IP address. I am not sure how you envisage this working? How will the you know the IP address to forward traffic to?

Probably raised more questions that answers ;) best to make sure you understand them before they become a problem during implementation, that can really ruin a weekend!


Author Comment

ID: 12354581
Well, summer vacation is come and gone and this project is now on the front burner. Thanks for the replies.

Wondering if anyone has opinion on the 3 Switch options or another to offer:

LinkSys SR2016: $299.83

NetGear JGS516: 308.00

3COM 2816: $425.00

What solution should I look at for the firewall? Beater Box with nix based firewall or are the firewall appliances a more efficient solution?
LVL 15

Expert Comment

ID: 12357489
Glad I could help ;-)

I've not had any direct experience of the switches you suggested - but for a small environment I'd say that they're pretty similar.

Unless you want to do anything complex on the firewall front, I'd suggest a fairly straighforward appliance.  I've personally been happy with the Linksys WRT54G.
This box has the benefit of being Linux based, and you can replace the whole OS if you like :-)


Author Comment

ID: 12357533

that product you mentioned is a wireless expander. any chance you made a typo?
the only thing advance I would be considering is VPN.
LVL 15

Expert Comment

ID: 12360326
It's always possible I made a typo, but I didn' t this time ;-)
This is a router that has basic firewalling capabilities.  It also happens to be a wireless access point.
Take a look at http://www.linksys.com/products/product.asp?prid=508&scid=35


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