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Best Cisco Switch for Bandwidth control (2950, 2960, or will older switches do just fine?)

Posted on 2010-01-06
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Last Modified: 2012-08-13
I'm having to rebuild the network for my company.  There are about 80 ports and 65 of them are computers.  We have only a 1.5 Mb T-1 for internet access and it is saturated most of the time.  We are unable to affordably increase our internet speed.  To help fix the problem I'm wanting to get rid of our old switches (no control) and replace them with 2 (two) 48 port switches that will allow me to shape and limit bandwidth.  It seems that the 2950 and 2960's are both good for QoS settings.  However, money is tight and approving two $1500 switches may be difficult.  I don't understand the differences in QoS control between these two switches.  Which one is better to get?  Or is something else recommended (one requirement that led me to the Cisco switches is quality and reliability -- I don't want to have to recycle power to whatever we put in to keep them running).

The link below shows that shaping (vs policing) traffic creates smoother bandwidth control.  Are both boxes fully capable of this and is there any downside to this queing method?  Is the disadvantage listed (Can introduce delay due to queuing, particularly deep queues.) significant?

Do both of these switches have the ability to allow users to use free bandwidth while guaranteeing a minimum during periods of heavy load?

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/tech/tk543/tk545/technologies_tech_note09186a00800a3a25.shtml

Thank you.
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Question by:hayedid
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that1guy15 earned 252 total points
ID: 26192136
First thing to keep in mind. Its not your network traffic that is bogging down. it is your internet traffic. So Queueing on your network switch is not going to solve anything just make your network traffic a little more reliable.
Since you are concerned about your internet traffic then you will want to focus your QoS implementation on your edge router not your switches. With that in mind if your T1 is fully saturated then queueing is not going to work. The best you will get out of it is a specific class of traffic is guaranteed a slice of the T1 but the rest will still fill it up and start dropping. So I would suggest one of two things.
1) Apply policing to your edge router to limit specific classes to a good bandwidth (ie HTTP, FTP etc). You can then setup other classes such as VoIP to a guaranteed limit of traffic (Priority class)
2) Upgrade your internet connection to a faster speed and apply basic QoS to keep traffic under control.
If you know there is a lot of un-needed internet traffic than option 1 might be a good place to start. If you can get it under control a T1 might still be good enough for your business. But if your T1 is still over saturated then QoS is not going to help you. Yeah your voice calls might go fine but data traffic will start to suffer and that can be equally bad.
Consider the cost of new hardware such as switches and routers (dont forget the yearly support contracts) compared to a higher speed internet connection and you might find them comparable. I know local calbe companies and ISPs are offering business class service at a comparable price that is faster than T1.
 Just my two cents :)
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by:Vito_Corleone
Vito_Corleone earned 248 total points
ID: 26192236
The 2900s are limited in their QoS capabilites. And as was said above, you want to apply QoS on your edge L3 device. If you cannot afford to increase the bandwidth on your circuit, depending on your current utilization you will need to run some heavy shaping or policing at the edge.

So, in short, those switches will not accomplish what you want.

What router do you currently have at your edge? If it does not support your QoS needs, I would focus on upgrading it before worrying about the switches. If it's a Cisco router I can give you a QoS config to meet your needs.
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by:hayedid
ID: 26192382

With regard to the internet speed, neither DSL or Cable is available at this location.  We only have a choice of T1's ($185/mo for each new 1.5 brought in) or a special fiber line that is running $350 for a 1Mb/s guaranteed.

Our network currently consists of the T1 coming in, going through a firewall, and connecting to a Linksys 1Gb SRW 2024 router.  Computers, printers, are connected to this router and/or other routers and switches plugged into this router.

Thank you.
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by:that1guy15
ID: 26192533
The SRW 2024 is actually a switch and from the looks of it only provides basic queueing which will not help you in your situation. This would be the device i would replace unless you have  a quality firewall that supports QoS
What firewall do you have?
As per your router I would suggest going with a 1800 series Cisco.
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by:Vito_Corleone
ID: 26192541
When I look up that device, I see:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps9989/index.html

That's a switch. What is your default gateway/edge router for the site, is it the firewall? If so, what model is it? You may be able to do some shaping or policing on the firewall.
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Author Comment

by:hayedid
ID: 26192645
So it sounds like I need to route all our internal routers and traffic through a single edge router with good QoS cabilities.  Is there a good cheap Cisco router that I should use for this?
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by:hayedid
ID: 26192665
That1guy15, are you talking about an 1800 series Cisco for the edge router?

Our firewall is a SonicWall 200 Pro

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by:Vito_Corleone
ID: 26192718
Yes, the 1800 should do what you need easily. It has all the QoS capabilities you'll need. An 1801 or 1811 would be the cheapest/best choices for you and more than enough for the T1.

The Sonicwall doesn't seem to have enough QoS capabilities to support the shaping/policing you'll need.
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Expert Comment

by:Vito_Corleone
ID: 26192725
Oh, you could also look into an 880 series or something in the UC series.
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Author Comment

by:hayedid
ID: 26192854
Thank you both.  This give me plenty to think about.  It looks like I need to do some re-structuring.
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