Need advice for network expansion

Hi,
I need some expert advice on my network expansion. Currently I am using a 192.168.2.x address scheme for my internal hosts all on one floor (254 hosts max). My network hardware includes a couple of ProCurve 1800 switches (non-managed) behind a NetScreen SSG140 FW device. I am planning for an expansion of few more hosts on a separate floor.

Right now, I am not exceeding my max hosts on my 192.168.2.x network.
1) I want to know if I could just add another 32 port switch to accommodate additional hosts on the new floor?
2) How many switches can I effectively connect together (daisy-chained to each other)?
3) I want to know if adding a managed switch would be of any help ?
4) Would you suggest a new IP scheme based on two different floors?

Regards,

KatewadiAsked:
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PriceDConnect With a Mentor Commented:
1) I want to know if I could just add another 32 port switch to accommodate additional hosts on the new floor? This will work. You can do this several ways.  All network wiring goes to the existing network patch panel and the new 32 port switch goes there, or run the 2nd floor cables to a patch panel on the second floor, and have a backbone (a network cable go to the other floors switch or patch panel)
2) How many switches can I effectively connect together (daisy-chained to each other)? The depends on the manufacture, however you should have not problem do the the number you have.
3) I want to know if adding a managed switch would be of any help ?  Manged switch as more expenses and allows you do "manage" each device.  Take a look at the vendors mangage switch and see if the options it allow is worth the price.  Many people purchase managed switches and never use them to there full potential.
4) Would you suggest a new IP scheme based on two different floors? you don't need to.  If you find that you have alot of traffice and wish to subnet it for that reason, however technically there is not reason.  Again the benefits may be traffic...this depend on the usage of your network users.  Also, one suggest is the change the IP to a 10. network...the main reason is you may be conflict useing VPN or other technologies later due otthe 192.168.x.x network being commonly used at home.

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muffConnect With a Mentor Commented:
1) Yes
2) Effectively as many as you want, but you would be better off with a larger switch (as each daisy chain is a bottleneck).
3) This depends on where you are heading.  If you are anticipating further growth, and you would consider doing more with your network down the track (such as splitting into vlans).  With a managed switch you can choose to leave it vanilla as if it were "unmanaged" but an unmanaged switch can't be managed.  So you should think about where your network will be in a couple of years or further.
4) There are many ways to slice up an IP address range.  It depends on the nature of your business, and what is a logical split.  Do you have any security requirements?  Note that with VLANs you do not need to split by physical location, you can split by function.

An example would be a finance system.  Lets say that you have finance people on both floors that need to access a finance system.  The system itself could be placed on one VLAN (finance system VLAN), while the finance people placed in another (regardless of their location), and everyone else in a third.  Then you can set up an ACL on the router (or internal firewall) that joins these networks together saying only people on the finance VLAN can access the finance system VLAN.

On the other hand, if you are not seeing any performance issues on the switches, you could simply expand your subnet.  Currently you have 192.168.2.0 255.255.255.0, which gives you 254 hosts.  If you were to expand this by changing the subnet mask to 255.255.252.0, you could have 1022 hosts.  

  192.168.0.1 - 192.168.3.254

Expanding this way will eventually lead to trouble as the network will eventually get saturated.  This really depends on what activity your network sees - the applications and behaviour of users.  With unmanaged switches, you very likely don't have a way to see what performance issues may be approaching.

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simon_m_Connect With a Mentor Commented:
Rather than chaining switches together you want to feed each switch in the stack back to the top switch @ Gigabit speeds,  or back to a central switch.  It's not considered good practice to keep serially chaining switches together - if nothing else you are adding more and more traffic to the last uplink.

Managed switches are good to help track down utilisation and errors.  the HP switches with management have a pretty easy to use interface, with logs showing key issues.  I used it last week to troubleshoot a slow network, caused by errors on a fibre uplink ( which the switch highlighed).  Also if you want to set up thinks like spanning tree to prevent loops in the network  ( eg accidently patching 2 ports on the same switch together) you need managed switches normally to do this.  Down the line you may wish to add VoIp phones, and normally they would go on a separate vlan - for which you need managed switches, or new switches ( with PoE).

IP addressing wise,  if you are going to approach your 254 hosts then as suggested above changing the mask, or switching to something like 172.16.x.y is advised.   Or with managed switches with Layer 3 support ( one at least 1 switch) you could create 2 vlans and start a new range going on the second, and route between them.   Personally I would say life is easier with just one IP subnet, unless you network is really busy, in which case broadasts can be cut down by dividing up into 2.
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KatewadiAuthor Commented:
Thanks for your prompt and detailed response...
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