When are multiple gigabit ethernet ports in a server justifyable?
Posted on 2004-08-18
Our LAN consists of about 75 PC's, most are P3's and P4's, all are connected to the LAN at 100MB or better, some newer ones have gigabit ports in them, but all are plugged into 10/100 ethernet ports. Our wiring is CAT5, but most of it is strung casually though the crawl space - not to the ANSI spec at all. Most of the user's wires are about 50-150 in length.
The backbone consists of 24-port 10/100 switches, a few HPs and a few Dells. At the top we have a 24-port HP gigabit switch, the 10/100 switches are plugged into this, some using gigabit transceivers and some at 100MB, as well as the servers and top level routers. Most of the newer servers have multiple GB ports. Counting PC's, printers, routers, etc.. I'd say we're using 100-110 ports. Our dozen or so servers are NT4 moving to 2003, and each runs a particular app - RightFAX, security cameras, Exchange, voice mail, file server, PDC, BDC, and the rest are our new servers that will replace some of the older ones. We are also adding a document imaging SQL server, but access to look up stored documents will be light.
My question concerns the need for multiple gigabit ports on the servers. My techs feel that we need 2-4 GB ports on each server, connected to a gigabit backbone. If we were moving many 100MB+ files around constantly, I'd agree we need this much bandwidth. But, we're not, and the most intensive users are CAD users working on AutoCAD files that average 200-300K, with no files over 5MB in size. Probably 90% of the users do office work, MS Exchange access with Outlook, Excel, Word, and run a thin client app that talks to an HP Unix/Oracle database. In my opinion, we have relatively light network traffic for our size.
Does anyone see a need for four gigabit ports in a Windows 2003 server domain controller? It won't be doing any file sharing operations, just domain "stuff" like DHCP, Active Directory, and DNS. The file server runs the printers, maybe 10 laserjets in the building. I can see maybe two teamed GB ports per server on Exchange and the file server, but not on a domain controller or a lightly used RightFAX or voicemail server.
My techs are wanting to put 3-4 GB NICs (teamed) in each server and I'm having a hard time justifying this due to the bandwidth I feel we're using. It doesn't take long to fill up a 24-port GB switch when you use 2-4 ports per server, and have a dozen servers. An HP 2825 is about $1,700. A suggestion has been made that we look into setting up V-LANs before we invest in more GB ports. Comments?