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What networking equipment should we get? Any good recommendations?

Posted on 2011-03-19
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
Hello experts,

We are in the process of moving our office to a new space. At the moment, we are sharing a DSL line with another office in the same building. But we are planning to move into a new building that offers 50 Mbps downstream and 10 Mbps upstream internet service so we need to make sure we have equipment that can handle or optimize speeds like that.

The service provider will be Comcast, and we currently don't own any cable modems, routers, switches, nor firewalls. The setup will be for 20 computers.

What networking equipment should we get? Any good recommendations? Should we get our own modem or rent it from Comcast? Should we go cheap or should we consider high end equipment?
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Question by:CompuHero
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by:wynandkunkel
wynandkunkel earned 100 total points
ID: 35174387
Hi CompuHero, I would suggest you rent the equipment from ComCast so that they can take care of any configuration issues etc on the equipment.  The idea would be that ther eis a demarcated line where you or your team is responsible for equipment from the ethernet cable onwards coming fron COmCast's equipment and they are responsible for their's.
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lrmoore earned 400 total points
ID: 35175587
I recommend that you buy a Cisco ASA 5505 with 50-user license. This will be your "router" between the LAN and Comcast. It will also give you flexibility to do other things. Wold-class performance in a small package.
http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/collateral/vpndevc/ps6032/ps6094/ps6120/product_data_sheet0900aecd802930c5.html

Then a good 24-port switch for everything to connect to is essential. I recommend starting out with something like a Linksys/Cisco SmartSwitch SLM2024 or SRW2024
http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps9967/prod_models_comparison.html

That should be about all you need, other than to make sure the wiring is in good shape at the new location.
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by:jostafew
ID: 35181779
I'd like to add a couple comments; firstly on the renting or purchasing of the modem the simple answer would be to look at how long you plan to stay in that building, how long you plan to use ComCast as a provider, and how long before you need to upgrade the service (and possibly the modem with it) and decide which option makes the most sense dollar wise. That being said if the difference is not huge I would suggest renting the device as Wynandkunkel mentioned because then ComCast is completely responsible for your service all the way until you get ethernet out to your router.

Now for the hardware on your site of the network, Cisco is always a solid choice; we have a number of 1811's in service in our system (along with some lower capacity models) serving better than 50 users at a couple sites and they have performed very well. That being said any higher end Cisco device I have met will be complex and will take an experienced hand to configure properly.

Switches I can suggest a little more easily to look at Netgear's ProSafe line as they offer great value. We have 9 in service (various models, PoE, GB, fiber connections etc.) in our network and again have been solid devices.
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by:jostafew
ID: 35181797
My appologies, I forgot to include the Netgear Smart Switches (which we primarily use) in addition to the ProSafe line.
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by:CompuHero
ID: 35203834
Thanks for all of your answers. I believe that jostafew's suggestion of renting Comcast's modem makes a lot of sense. I guess that will force them to render better service.

I have a few questions regarding some of the answers posted so far.

lrmoore mentioned that I needed to buy 25 user licenses for the Cisco ASA 5505. What are the licenses for? VPN maybe?

How can I make sure that the wiring at the new building is in good shape? Are there any types of tests that I can run? Or should we hire someone? What type of professional would test the quality of the wires in an office building?

jostafew seems to believe that the Cisco equipment is not as easy to configure as Netgear. I feel very confident with most commercial router, but I have never played with Cisco equipment before. Wil it be to hard to learn?

Thanks
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by:lrmoore
lrmoore earned 400 total points
ID: 35206035
ASA 5505 licenses are called user licenses, but it really means how many devices can send traffic through the device. It counts by mac-addresses. The license count options are 10, 50 and Unlimited.
Personally, I would  never put a business on Negear equipment. I've ripped them out of more places because they simply stop passing traffic for no known reason.
The Cisco Linksys line is easy to manage. From a switch perspective all you are really going to do is take it out of the box and plug it in. Probably never touch it again. This would hold true for most any brand you decide to go with. If at some point you want to take advantage of any features, the Cisco Linksys has a web-based interface.
The ASA comes with a Getting Started guide. Basically you plug it in, plug in your pc, https://192.168.1.1
Download/install/launch the ASDM, run the setup wizard and you're done. The ASDM is a pretty nice GUI interface to the ASA.
I would hire an expert to test the wiring. You'll probably have some that are not labled, maybe need a few more runs, etc. Just look in the yellow pages for data cabling contractors in your area.
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by:jostafew
ID: 35207978
Irmoore's right, the Cisco Small Business stuff (used to be Linksys Business - Cisco took them over) is pretty easy to work with as it's not far off from home level equipment. Fewer features = user friendly.

I'd like to clarify a bit; what I was referring to was the full Cisco enterprise level products. They are powerfull devices with a lot more configuration to be taken advantage of. I have personal experience with their wireless access points and while it takes about 5min to set up a residential style WAP it took me about half a day to properly config the first Cisco WAP in our system (after doing a pile of homework). I can't imagine their routers to be any easier as there are serious educational programs offered to config and manage higher end Cisco equipment.

Anwering your question on whether to go cheap or go with enterprise stuff, this will depend on whether this is a mission-critical service and whether you'll be on hand to correct minor problems that will happen (re-setting devices periodically etc.)

If you would like assistance selecting particular models please provide us with a little more info on what applications will be running on your network, will there be any file / mail servers on site, are you hard-wired only network or will there be wireless segments, what is the projected growth rate etc.
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by:CompuHero
ID: 35218124
All the information so far has been very useful. Thanks a lot!

I would now like to acquire the suggested Cisco equipment. We have decided to get the Cisco SRW2048 as our switch because we are planning to double the amount of computers in the future. Amazon is selling it for $520. Is that a good price?

How much should I expect to pay for the ASA 5505 with the 50 user licenses and the ?
I found this ASA 5505 on Amazon for $965. Is this all that I'm looking for? Where should I buy it from? Please tell me how to get the licenses?

Thanks again!
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by:CompuHero
ID: 35326336
Hello Experts,

I found most of the things that you suggested at PCMALL.COM. They had good prices and better information than Amazon there.

Thanks for everything!
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