Network switch buying guide: 1 x 48-port or 2x 24-port?

hoggiee used Ask the Experts™
I have about 30 workstations and servers in my network and I am in a dilemma which type of network switch is to buy.  One unit of 48-port to house all under one roof? or two units of 24-port cascaded by an uplink? What are the pros and cons for each option here? Whoever gives the most pros and cons will get the max point.  Thanks.
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SteveIT Manager

One switch

PRO - Centralised, reduced space in cab, easy management
CON - Single point of failure, no redundancy

Two switch

PRO - More ports, more expansion, possible redundancy if one switch goes wrong
CON - Sometimes more expensive, require more resource (power etc)
WissamSenior Network Engineer

The network design depends on your servers, let's say you have AD1 and AD2, EXCHANGE1 and EXCHANGE 2
It would be a wise idea to split those servers onto two different switches and cascade the switches with dual port (etherchannel link).
however this would make your cost my higher (two 24 port switches instead of one 48 port), by side you will loose 4 ports in total for the cascading.
In the end of the day, this is a small implementation, and i dont think redundancy on network layer is much required. you have one switch and not core/edge blocks
I would go for one 48 port switch
Solutions Architect
It comes down to two things really - performance and redundancy. If you got for a 2 x 24 ports then you have two units, if one breaks then depending on your used port density you can move some or all of the devices to the other switch. Because of the way switches work you are also Isolating SOME of the intermachine traffic to one device (although normally machine<->machine is pretty limited). On the flip side, you have the cost of 2 x 24 port devices which traditionally cost more then 1x48. Also as a negative you are limiting your interswitch bandwith to the speed of the uplink which depending on the switch can be the same speed as the normal ports ( or if you get a high end switch i.e cisco ) then uplink ports can be fibre or fast copper and thus dont have this limitation.

1 x 48 port is cheaper (as said above), you dont have the redundancy but you can look at getting a hot spare if needed. The benefit is you dont have the bandwith limitation of the uplink - the switching fabric internally is ALWAYS going to be MUCH MUCH faster than any uplink. Another benefit to one device is that its easier to maintain as you have one device to configure and patch.

you do have a 3rd option though, you could get say 2 x 24 port cisco devices ( so you have the resilience) and connect them into a stack using stack cables. The uplink is now operating at a nice speed , say 10GBPS, the config is shared and management becomes easier. SO you can in theory have 2 x 24 ports and none of the associated bad points.
Adrian CantrillSolutions Architect
You also need to think about having dual NIC workstations and servers, having a single stack alows efficient teaming of NICS so they appear to be one device, you can connect both to one port on each switch and even bond the total bandwith ( which a decent switch will support). Because the switches will be stacked (if its cisco or another capable brand) you wont loose connectivity even if one switch dies.
WissamSenior Network Engineer

forgot to mention, make it a 3560 instead of 2960, you have servers here and wouldnt want your switch to slow traffic between the ports

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