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Multiple Switches - One Router

Posted on 2011-09-19
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Last Modified: 2012-05-12
We have a small business network environment with 3 buildings connected by Cat6 cabling.  What is the best way to connect the following devices so they can all communicate with each other and the internet and with the highest throughput?

Building 1:
Internet Modem
Cisco RVS4000 4-Port Firewall Router
D-Link 24-port Gigabit Switch
D-Link 24-port 100Mbit Switch
30 Workstations

Building 2:
SBS 2003 File Server/MS Exchange
D-Link 24-port Gigabit Switch
15 Workstations

Building 3:
D-Link 24-port 100Mbit Switch
15 Workstations

--------------

We have tried a few different ways of connecting the switches, but it seems that some devices can't communicate with each unless they are on the same switch - very strange.

Thanks in advance.
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Question by:ahotmail
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Expert Comment

by:JAN PAKULA
ID: 36559789
1 do you have any vlans in system?
2 those 100mbit switches - do they have at least 1x 1gb or 2x1gb ports - to use for uplinks
3 are you planing to segment the network on different broadcast domains?
4 Best way would be to use router on a stick:

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Networking_Hardware/Routers/Q_24479223.html?sfQueryTermInfo=1+10+30+router+stick

http://www.tech-recipes.com/rx/1853/Cisco_switch_802_1q_trunk_to_router_on_a_stick/

https://learningnetwork.cisco.com/thread/16455

JAN MA CCNA
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Expert Comment

by:Soulja
ID: 36560049
I assume you don't have any vlans set up. Are all of the switches using the default vlan? Are all of the workstations on the same subnet? I assume they are.

"We have tried a few different ways of connecting the switches"

Can you please give more details. This way we are not repeating what you have already tried.
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Author Comment

by:ahotmail
ID: 36560109
Hi janpakula and Soulja,

Here are some more details:

1)  No VLAN's setup (is this a good idea to have?)
2)  The 100Mbit switches are pure 100Mbit, no gigabit connections.  The gigabit switches are fully gigabit.
3)  Not sure about what broadcast domains are - but I'll assume no?
4)  Yes, all workstations are on the same subnet

janpakula, what would be the advantage of the router on a stick vs our current Cisco RVS4000 router?

Thanks again.
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Expert Comment

by:JAN PAKULA
ID: 36560390
advantage of vlans would be no broadcast storms  - but with your setup it is more hassle then it is worth- i wouldnt implement vlans
Best way  configure you router to have 3 differnent ip addresses for each lan interface (within same subnet) and stick gigabit ports from different building.
in dhcp set up 3 sites with different default gateway (lan ports of router)

FOR EXAMLE
1
192.168.168.1-63
255.255.255.0
2
192.168.168.64.127
255.255.255.0
3
192.168.168.128-191
255.255.255.0

FOR LAN1
IP ON ROUTER 192.168.168.1
FOR LAN2
IP ON ROUTER 192.168.168.64
FOR LAN3
IP ON ROUTER 192.168.168.128


in dhcp it is option 003 Router - For setting default gateway



http://www.comptechdoc.org/os/windows/ntserverguide/ntsdhcp.html
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Author Comment

by:ahotmail
ID: 36560437
Thanks for the suggestion janpakula.

I'm not sure if we could implement this, since our SBS server is doing the DHCP and not the router.  Would we still be able to tell the router to give certain IP's to certain ports?

Also, what advantage would that all have?  Just separating traffic?

Thanks again.
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Expert Comment

by:Soulja
ID: 36560472
This is why you need vlans, because you will not be able to specify which dhcp scope gets assigned to which computer, because they will all be in the same broadcast domain.

I would set up a vlan per building. This way the only time the traffic would need to hit the router if if it's destined to the internet or another buildingk, otherwise the traffic will stay local to the building.

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Expert Comment

by:JAN PAKULA
ID: 36560592
you can do it through dhcp console on server
just create 3 sites with 3 different option 003 ip address
You can use vlan but you dont need to if you use dhcp reservations
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Author Comment

by:ahotmail
ID: 36560667
janpakula, I like this solution, but I don't think our router (Cisco RVS4000 Small Biz Router) has the option of setting different IP's for each port.  I think the router just has one IP - 192.168.0.1 for the whole device.
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Expert Comment

by:Soulja
ID: 36560676
@janpakula

Let's think about this. The computers are all on the same broadcast domain. When a computer turns on, it will broadcast a dhcp request, the dhcp server will receive it, but how will the dhcp server know which scope to assign a address from being that all of these computers are on the same vlan.

If the computers are separated by vlan, then they would broadcast only on their vlan. The author would setup some type of dhcp relay to have the broadcast forwarded to his server. The server will then know which scope to assign based on the vlan that it came from.

I have this exact setup at home with 4 vlans.
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Author Comment

by:ahotmail
ID: 36560692
I guess since we are limited by our hardware, the questions would come down to this:

1)  Should the 4 switches each connect directly to a router port?  Or it is better to connect them serially to each other and then end at one router port?

2)  Should the Server connect directly to a router port?  Or to a switch?

3)  Is it a good idea to implement Rapid Spanning Tree (RSTP) on our router?  It has this option.

4)  Would port mirroring on the router serve any useful purpose?

Thanks.
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Author Comment

by:ahotmail
ID: 36560723
Soulja, if we setup VLAN's, would that mean each port would have a different subnet?

i.e. VLAN1 192.168.0.1, VLAN2 192.168.1.1, VLAN3 192.168.2.1, etc.

That might be over my head as I'm afraid of any stuff hardcoded on machines (printers, etc) that refer to something on the current .0.1 domain.

Also, I read somewhere that VLAN's are not really needed for <200 IP's we have about 60 in total.
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Accepted Solution

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Soulja earned 125 total points
ID: 36560837
1)  Should the 4 switches each connect directly to a router port?  Or it is better to connect them serially to each other and then end at one router port?


The switches in building one could daisy off of each other. The other two buildings can just home run straight to the router.

2)  Should the Server connect directly to a router port?  Or to a switch?

Connect the server to the switch.

3)  Is it a good idea to implement Rapid Spanning Tree (RSTP) on our router?  It has this option.


If it has this option, it surely wouldn't hurt to enable it. Being that the router is the hub I don't really see where a loop would occur, unless you plugged the same switch into more than one router port.


4)  Would port mirroring on the router serve any useful purpose?

Port mirroring is for monitoring traffic, with a sniffer or for webfilters, so if you don't need to then don't use it.

Soulja, if we setup VLAN's, would that mean each port would have a different subnet?

No, you can assign which ever ports you want to a specific vlan. My suggestion would be to assign all ports of a certain switch to the same vlan. i.e. Building one switches all port in VLAN 100, Building 2 all ports in vlan 200, and so on.

Also, I read somewhere that VLAN's are not really needed for <200 IP's we have about 60 in total.

They aren't really needed in your case, but if you want to organize your network, i.e. separating the servers from the client traffic. You could use vlans, buts essentially with your number of computers, it isn't really needed. Just keep everything on the same vlan and subnet. One dhcp scope to worry about.
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Assisted Solution

by:JAN PAKULA
JAN PAKULA earned 125 total points
ID: 36560884
1. 1 would turn on rstp on all switches and router - mak sure that router has lowest bridge id ( by lowering priority) - to ensure that router is designated bridge
2 I wouldnt use vlans - to mach hassle
3 with 60 different ips you could use reservations in dhcp ( which would also dish out default geateway - option 3 in dhcp site configuration
4 port mirroring is used to check data comming in and out the lan - it is used for example by sonicwall for intrusion prevention and by viewpoint to monitor data and users over lan
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Author Closing Comment

by:ahotmail
ID: 36561042
Thanks Soulja and janpakula!
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