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Network layout question

Posted on 2004-10-21
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Last Modified: 2013-12-07
This is somewhat of a continuation from the following question:   http://www.experts-exchange.com/Networking/Q_21170467.html#12324424

We're trying to determine what we should be putting in place in our company since many of our users have been experiencing a lot of slow downs and disconnections lately.

Our current layout:  

We currently have about 8 'regular' users upstairs plugged into a 10/100 unmanaged swtich.   Our main data server and firewall/router our also plugged into this switch.  This switch also connects to another 10/100 unmanaged switch on our 1st floor.  On that second switch there are about 20 users of which 10 or so are CAD techs.  All of the CAD techs work from and store their files on the data server upstairs.  Clear as mud?

Here's the solution we're considering:
Install a 24-port managed switch with a couple of gigabit ports (Dell PowerConnect 3348) on the 1st floor.  Install a 24-port unmanaged switch (Dell PowerConnect 2324) upstairs.  Run a gigabit line between the two switches and one gigabit line to the dataserver off of the managed switch.

Does this sound optimal or is there a better way to approach this.

Thanks for the help!
J
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Question by:Intricate
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    by:lrmoore
    Definately sounds like a big improvement over what you have now.

    You might want to find a switch with more than two Gigabit ports and create redundant connections between floors. Do you have fiber or copper in the risers between floors?

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    by:Mazaraat
    Yes that sounds good, just verify that those GB ports can be used either as an uplink or direct connect to server, that would be my only concern.  What was your price range on those swtiches?  the 3com 3750 has 24 gig ports and 4 GBIC ports you can use for connecting...though this might be a little pricy at app$2100
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    by:lrmoore
    You might want to check out the Cisco 2970. 24 ports of 10/100/1000 on a managed switch.
    http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/switches/ps5206/index.html
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    by:Intricate
    We have copper running between the floors.  

    What is the difference between a port that can uplink or direct connect to the server?

    Budget is enough of an issue to prevent us from going to a 24 port gigabit managed switch.  Is it possible to run one gigabit line between each switch and a redundant 100mb line?

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    Assisted Solution

    by:garak1357
    My personal opinion is that unless you just are just overflowing with cash, you shouldn't go for really high end managed switches.  Your problem mostly appears to be throughput with those CAD guys upstairs.

    I would go with a couple of 24 port unmanaged gigabit switches.  24 ports of gigabit....not just gigabit uplinks between them.  This means replacing all NICs with gigabit.  And all cable should be CAT5E or CAT6.  If you look around I think you'll be able to get the switches for around $300 @ and the NICs at around $25 @.

    If you want to get really fancy, you could setup a router between the two switches to isolate the CAD guys from the rest of the staff.  Put them on a different, but neighboring subnet.

    Yes the managed switches are better.  I'm just not sure that it is needed in your particular case.
    Whatever you decide to do...good luck with the project.
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    by:gjohnson99
    Netgear has some very goof backbone switchs at low price like 24 10/100/1000 with option port for fiber full layer 2 managed  all 24 port gig under $1400
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    Accepted Solution

    by:
    I'm not often asked to design networks at a hardware level, but I'll throw my hat in - Am I crazy to think that installing a gig card in the server would be a waste?  IIRC, two hosts on ethernet can only exchange traffic at the speed of the slowest host, and a single host cannot communicate with more than one other host at a time - so how would a gig card in the server help at all, since it can only comunicate with the other machines at 100Mb at best?  A gig uplink between the switches might be a good idea if the switches are smart enough to multiplex all the concurrent 100Mb connections into the gig connection (bug your vendor about that, or RTFM).  If they don't multiplex the 10/100 connections, then the only benefit you are likely to see from a gig uplink is that machines connected to gig ports on one floor will be able to talk very quickly to machines connected to gig ports on the other floor, but otherwise your switches' uplinks will still be tied up when one 100Mb machine on one floor wants to talk to another 100Mb machine on another floor.

    I have a managed 10Mb switch (Marconi) with an addtional 100Mb port and an ATM uplink.  When I first got it, I kept wondering why it didn't help much to have a machine plugged into the 100Mb port, until I remember my ethernet 101 and realized that the main purpose of the 100Mb port was so that a server with 100Mb card could send data that fast over the ATM uplink to a host (or hosts) that was connected at a similar speed (the ATM uplink runs at 154Mb - I'm still bummed that they discontinued the linux ATM switch project).  

    If your new switches support a gig uplink for multiplexing lower-speed switch-to-switch connections, then that will definitely be a huge help.  If you can afford it, managed switches are very nice as you can usually obtain a per-port statistical report that can help greatly in resolving networking issues.  Other than that, I would not recommend buying switches with lots of gig ports unless you plan to convert all of your equipment over to gig ethernet in the near future.

    Hope that helps...

    Cheers,
    -Jon





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    by:cooledit
    hi, there

    Now you have not mentioned what kinda server it is does it have a GB link port ?.. What kinda End PC is it do they also have a GB link port ?..

    If yes to all those question:

    purchase the 3348 48GB ports, put all the CAD users on seperate VLAN including the server Add that vlan for the server, rest users configure seperate VLAN with  either GB connection or 100MB FDX...

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    Author Comment

    by:Intricate
    The server does have a gigabit NIC in it.  However, if what Jon a.k.a. The--Captain is saying is correct...that only matters if we're using a managed switch.  Am i understanding that correctly or would we need a managed switch with multiplexing capabilities?  Do most managed switches have this ability?

    Thanks for all the quick responses people!
    J
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    by:gjohnson99
    You need to remember that you limit by your server though put

    Max though put for lan cards is like

    100mb lan card  75 mb
    1 Gig  32 bit buss  120 mb
    1 Gig  64 bit buss 66 mhz  250 mb
    1 Gig  32 bit buss  133 Mhz 390 mb
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    by:Intricate
    To further clarifty things...

    Can only one client truly be accessing/communicating with the server at a time?  

    If this is the case, a gigabit card into the server wouldn't be beneficial since all the client's are on 100mb lines.
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    by:cooledit
    hi, there

    If as I understand Multiplexing is to set a GB port to a lower speed (Auto detecting) then all new Switches has that feature.
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    by:The--Captain
    I am not saying managed switches are necessary - just that they can help you figure out where your network problems are since they tend to support at least some level of statistical reporting.

    >If as I understand Multiplexing is to set a GB port to a lower speed (Auto detecting) then all new Switches has that feature

    No, that is not what I'm talking about - I'm not sure what the vendors call what I am calling "multiplexing", but it is not speed auto-sensing.  I was thinking that routers could handle the "multiplexing" job quite nicely, which got me to thinking that maybe layer three switches are wht is needed here - anyone here played around with layer-3 switches lately?

    Cheers,
    -Jon
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    by:gjohnson99
    What is Multiplexing ???

    I am using some layer 3 switches now.


    Switch management let do vlan, security,  set  port speed  and other
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