Best way to set up mulitple network switches opn a medium business netwrok.

Posted on 2009-04-20
Last Modified: 2013-11-09
I have a small dilemma that is outside my expertise. I have recently purchased 2 more 3 com 2250 baseline switches (48 +2 +2 Fiber Optic), in addition to the 1 I already have. now my question is how to link them all together to ensure quality network integrity and speed? Should I run 1 cat6 cable from each switch's 1gb ports to another or merely run 1 cable to a standard port for each switch or should I opt for a fiber optic connection between all the switches?

here is my setup and proposed plan,

Switch 1-l contains user cables and most peripherals, including 2, 1 gb connections to my SBS server
Switch 2 -will contain the final 20 users and peripherals, and my 4 ADSL modem connections
Switch 3- will contain all my TCP-IP/RFID door controllers (all need to speak actively with my SBS server)

I know this may be an easy question but I want to install everything correctly and ensure everything stays up to speed and is very professional. Any help is appreciated.
Question by:Perkdaddy
    LVL 16

    Accepted Solution

    I would make sure your layout is "tree" rather than "chain", with the most busy links being connected directly to the "apex" switch.

    I would dedicate the fastest ports possible on each switch to the inter-switch links, e.g. don't put a printer or router on a gig port if it would mean putting an inter-switch link on a 10/100 port.

    There's no benefit to fiber over copper on the gig ports provided your switches are close together - the benefit to fiber would be if you needed one or more downstream switches to be further away than gig-over-copper allows for.

    BUT the fibre ports give you *extra* gig ports (I assume from your description they are extra, not dual-personality? If the fibre ports are the SAME port numbers as the gig-copper ports, then you can only use one or the other not both.

    You might also consider buying a fully-gig switch for the "apex", this then has one or two gig ports for your server and gig ports for any and all "downstream" switches.

    As it stands, if you can use fiber for the two switch links it'll probably be best to do so - but it doesn't actually sound like you need gig connections to the secondary switches, so if you find that too expensive just link a 10/100 from each secondary switch to a 10/100 port in the primary. But if you can, move *users* to the apex switch and move printers and other peripherals to the secondary switch(es). That gives the fastest path though your system for users<->server.


    Checked the specs - the gigabit ports *are* dual-personality on that model so you only have TWO gigabit ports per switch, not four, for each gig port you can use the RJ45  connector *or* the Fibre not both.

    AS such, i would suggest that you will probably benefit MORE from having a gigabit inter-switch link than having TWO gigabit links to the same switch for the server. And I realise this means going to daisy-chain when I said do tree but you'll have to, with the switches you have.


    Sw1 - Gig to sever - Gig to Sw2 - 10/100 for up to 48 users
    Sw2 - Gig to Sw1 - Gig to Sw3 - peripherals and ADSL
    Sw3 - Gig to Sw2 - other peripherals.

    Depending how you have the SBS configured to use the two NICs, you MIGHT find you can now connect the second  SBS nic to the second GIG port in Sw3.

    Best plan for the future? A "core" switch with more gig ports - such as a baseline 2816.


    Author Comment

    Nice thank you. My switches are all located in my server room about 4 in from each other. I was browsing the Internet while waiting on the answer and found that the fiber optic is for the use of lengths further that 265 or where electrical interference is probable. So in this case, I don't need it. And you are correct, the switches are all 48 +2, with the ability to use only fiber or gigabit. I will daisy chain each switch through the 1gb port and have the server connect on switch 1 and switch 3 where I have no chain in place (port 2). I will also look at the feasibility of a apex switch and the long term benefits (every IT plan needs approval you know :) . I am also in the process of planning a complete network re-installation on this production environment because they guys who ran the stuff before (I'm in Egypt on overseas contract work) did not cable by any standard and I'm facing numerous network problems daily. Let me explain.

    1. all cables are terminated with twisted pairs untwisted over 1 in and to no 568a or b standard (just matching colors NICE!) it wouldn't be so bad if everything wasn't mixed up with no set pattern!
    2. All cables are ran right on top of ceiling tiles or (not kidding) physically strapped to very high voltage wires (we are a casino, lots of power)
    3. All cables merely pop out of a hole in the roof or wall with no set pattern or road map for the cables to follow to each office segment (1 office can have 5 cables all ran different directions to the same switch,  sometimes extending the length for over 20m)
    4. there are over 50-80 unused cables just living there life connected to a switch with no home (just sitting on a ceiling tile)

    So I have a mess, and it needs a complete re-installation plan. Could you point me in the direction of a good guide to plan my re-installation? And give me some tips on how to pull and re-install on a 24 hour production environment with minimal delays?

    Sorry but I'm not a cabling expert, I mostly install servers, business productivity applications, internet technologies and general IT related misc tasks, but networking was something I never was taught, it seems you must learn this yourself or I was asleep during that class :)

    thanks in advance

    Author Comment

    another related question.

    Should I also run a standard 10/100 from each switch in case a gigabit port goes down or would this not help but slow the network down waiting on problem that might never happen?


    Author Closing Comment

    LVL 16

    Expert Comment

    I would not link in a "spare" port
    a) the chances of a *single* port failing on the switch as opposed to a total switch collapse are thin - and if it did happen, the chances of it being the port you've "duped" would be thin.
    b) you MUST NOT link two ports to the same destination unless you can also configure Spanning Tree to make sure taht only one of them is active until/unless it fails, or you'll get loops!

    Cabling is a pain. You start out with the best intentions and it ends up a mare's nest.

    Colour coding helps.

    I use "RED" cables for crossovers and nothing else. Any cablign system I've built, if you see a red cable, it's a crossover. That's less common these days as most switches have auto-crossover.

    I tend to use grey cables for the most part. If I'm pactching in non-VOIP voice systems (e.g. dumb PBX extensions) I use blue or green. Then I use green or blue, and yellow, (the other colorus from our main cable supplier) just to "highlight" important links. e.g. servers, inter-switch links, etc.

    Best way to keep the wiring cab neat is to use the SHORTEST cable possible for any given connection.

    Don't be afraid to use cable-end lables to pick out important connections, e.g. the trunk cat-5 cable to the secondary wiring closet on the first floor...

    If you have managed switches that let you name the ports, then as you wire up, *name* the ports. That way in future you can glance at the status display and tell which ports are blocked, streaming, offline, etc. otherwise having identified a fault on a port yu have to manually trace the cable to find out which user's PC has the virus or the dodgy NIC...


    Write Comment

    Please enter a first name

    Please enter a last name

    We will never share this with anyone.

    Featured Post

    New My Cloud Pro Series - organize everything!

    With space to keep virtually everything, the My Cloud Pro Series offers your team the network storage to edit, save and share production files from anywhere with an internet connection. Compatible with both Mac and PC, you're able to protect your content regardless of OS.

    Every server (virtual or physical) needs a console: and the console can be provided through hardware directly connected, software for remote connections, local connections, through a KVM, etc. This document explains the different types of consol…
    Meet the world's only “Transparent Cloud™” from Superb Internet Corporation. Now, you can experience firsthand a cloud platform that consistently outperforms Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM’s Softlayer, and Microsoft’s Azure when it comes to CPU and …
    Viewers will learn how to connect to a wireless network using the network security key. They will also learn how to access the IP address and DNS server for connections that must be done manually. After setting up a router, find the network security…
    In this tutorial you'll learn about bandwidth monitoring with flows and packet sniffing with our network monitoring solution PRTG Network Monitor ( If you're interested in additional methods for monitoring bandwidt…

    779 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

    Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

    Join & Ask a Question

    Need Help in Real-Time?

    Connect with top rated Experts

    18 Experts available now in Live!

    Get 1:1 Help Now