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advice on small business network infrastructure

Posted on 2011-09-21
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Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Hello,

I have just inherited a new network. The layout seems to be poorly designed so I figured I'd run this by some experts for advice.

We have about 30 workstations, right now they are connected by two unmanaged 24 port switches in a wiring closet. The server room is on the other end of the building. There are four servers, they are plugged into a 16 port unmanaged switch which is connected to the main switches in the wiring closet by one cat 5 cable.

I have two new unopened managed switches, dell power connect 2824 and 2848, and a new watchguard xtm 510 firewall. It seems to me that the bottleneck is the connection to the server room. Does anyone have any advise on this layout and how to best utilize the new networking hardware? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Question by:x534n
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Brian earned 1000 total points
ID: 36576524
Put the 2848 in the wiring closet. Then if you have the budget, get a fiber plugin for each switch and run a fiber cable between the wiring closet and server room. If not, be sure you have a good quality CAT5e or CAT6 run between the two. The fiber not get interference on a long run like that. Most long copper cabling I see in old networks are either kinked or run near power cables, etc...
Put the 2824 in the server room and connect your servers and uplink to the WatchGuard.
I would setup some QoS on both, depending on what you have plugged in as well as any VLANs that would make life easier. Small offices sometimes do not need them, but that can be a personal preference.
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by:x534n
ID: 36577051
Thanks for the reply. That was along the same line I was thinking. Unfortunatly the fiber option is not in the budget at present. I was thinking about maybe using link aggregation on four ports between the switches. I have never tried that before, do you think that would be a good alternative to the fiber option? Also do you think I should uplink to the watchguard from both switches (server room and wiring closet)? also do you think vlans would be helpful in this situation?
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by:Jarred Power
Jarred Power earned 1000 total points
ID: 36577320
Before you move anything around or start buying other equipment, run some basic LAN speed tests (ie LAN_SpeedTest.exe  http://www.totusoft.com/  it's free)  and get some hard numbers to compare changes.   Push data from workstation to servers and vice versa.  Also what type of data are you moving on your LAN?  Do you have just a file server and E-Mail or are you moving video or large images.  I would probably run an IP scan as well and see if you have any other devices running (you would be surprised at what turns up).  VLAN's are great if you have VoIP or need to segregate problem (legacy) or prioritize devices, otherwise it can be a pain.  
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by:Brian
ID: 36581103
I would only run one cable to your WatchGuard. Given most internet speeds, you are not going to gain anything except extra steps whem programming your WatchGuard by runningtwo cables to it.

Before you think about link aggregation, I agree with jpower5000 and test if you will need it.
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by:x534n
ID: 36583803
Thanks for the advice guys.
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