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Upgrade network - router or switch first?

Posted on 2011-03-08
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
Hello I need some advice on upgrading a network.

I am planning on upgrading a network that has 10/100 hubs and a RV042 router.  I currently have 30 users with about 40 active devices (pcs and printers, etc..).  We continue to use more applications and web hosting tools.  The office continues to grow and I have a limited budget.

Current topology:
a. ISP router 2800 Cisco, integrated T1, about 1mb dedicated to data
b. RV042 router
c. 2008 App Server (2008 R2, x64)
d. 2003 web server (web edition)
e. 16 port hub 10/100 and 24 port hub 10/100
f. three wifi router/hubs to support wifi in the office

I want to get some business class equipment so I think I may have to choose between a good router/firewall (i.e. sonicwall) or a GB managed switch.

Which would you recommend doing first and why?
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Question by:tucktech
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by:Scovndrel
ID: 35079852
It depends on whether the users access more things on local file servers, or each workstation independently access the internet more. Also, on the speed of the WAN/Internet connection.

If the users do more with local file servers or peer to peer shares, the hub/switch is more important and you will see a bigger impact from fewer dollars.

If the users do most of their work on the internet or do lots of big downloads, and the speed of your internet connection is being limited by the processing power of your router, you'll see a bigger return on investment there.
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Scovndrel earned 50 total points
ID: 35079856
Re-reading your initial post, I believe that a faster router would not increase your internet speed. Your bottleneck there is the T1 line. So I would put the money toward the backbone (hub/switches) because you'll see more of a difference there.
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by:M3rc74
M3rc74 earned 50 total points
ID: 35080208
buy a switch, definitely

Hubs are very dumb network devices.  They allow all devices that are connected to it to communicate to each other.  It makes no decisions about traffic direction, it doesn't inspect traffic quality or verify packet integrity.  All network data it receives on one port will be immediately transmitted out all the other ports, so each computer must take it's turn before sending data.  This is called half-duplex, it is very inefficient.

Switches control the flow of network traffic based on the address information in each packet. A switch learns which devices are connected to its ports (by monitoring the packets it receives), and then forwards on packets to the appropriate port only. This allows simultaneous communication across the switch, improving bandwidth.

This switching operation reduces the amount of unnecessary traffic that would have occurred if the same information had been sent from every port (as with a hub).

Switches and hubs are often used in the same network; the hubs extend the network by providing more ports, and the switches divide the network into smaller, less congested sections

and if you need firewall, use old PC( with 2 NIC ), and install IPcop or SmoothWall, free software with GUI
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by:lancecurwensville
lancecurwensville earned 50 total points
ID: 35083586
Upgrade your network with business class network switches, at 30 users and 40 devices, enterprise class equipment will only wipe your budget and not be beneficial.  When purchasing your switches, one thing to keep in mind before purchasing all gigabyte; do your network devices support gigabyte technology?  When do you plan on updating the connected devices?  Does the traffic your passing need or will it benefit from gigabit speeds?  The cost difference between switches w/ gigabyte uplinks and being pure gigabyte is significant.  Do you need managed switches; will you have a need to do vlans or advanced routing?  If you don't forsee a need for these advanced features, don't waste your money on them.
Once your wired network is updated, look to the wireless...are you experiencing any problems or dead spots?  Do they support the WPA encryption standard?  How secure does your business need to make your wireless?  G standard supports 54mb, N can support up to 300mb, is the speed critical?  If your existing solution is meeting your needs and you feel it is secure, then you don't need to change these out in your initial rebuild.
As M3rc74 stated, a smoothwall or monowall (any open source) firewall will probably meet your needs, but depending upon the critical needs of Internet connectivity and your comfort level of making firewall changes, you may want to look at SonicWall Pro 3060 or 4060 for your firewall needs; the level of support is very high and the setup is not difficult.
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by:dosdet2
dosdet2 earned 50 total points
ID: 35084612
I agree with lancecurwensville.  Check your workstations & Servers for G-bit NICs first.  If your Servers have G-bit then you would see a slight increase of speed with just the g-bit switch.  But if all your workstations have G-bit capability, then you will see a big improvement.  Remember that the transfer rate is never more that the slowest component between the devices.

Your WiFi is your slow point.  WiFi, by it nature, is single duplex - like a hub.  Only one device at a time can transmit across it, so the more simultaneous devices you have on a single WiFi channel/AP, the slower it's going to be and it will never be G-bit.  

Sonicwall is a great firewall (I use them) but you're not going to increase speed (at least not appreciable speed) by going to it.  However Processor speed & it's dropping more "bad" traffic will get you a little speed help.

There are some very good pure G-bit switches out there and unless you are planning to setup Vlans with another another subnet, you don't need a managed switch.  Check out these for an example.
http://www.bestlinknetware.com/product-detail.asp?sku=102320  or http://www.bestlinknetware.com/product-detail.asp?sku=102327

You can also get G-bit NICs for the workstations that need them.  See this one, (note that this is PCI Express interface.)   http://www.bestlinknetware.com/product-detail.asp?sku=102403

You can do G-bit on a budget and really make a difference.

To check your NIC cards for their maximum speed, go to the hardware advanced properties and look for "speed & duplex" (or something similar).  It will probably be set to "Auto", pull down the drop-down list and check for a 1000 or 1 GB option.  If it is there, then it is capable if G-bit.  (leave it set to `Auto')
My 2¢ worth
Good Luck

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by:kdearing
kdearing earned 50 total points
ID: 35088106
I agree with everyone else, get rid of the hubs.

Take a look at the Dell PowerConnect switches, great bang for the buck.
http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/networking-products
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