Network Infrastructure Advice

I'm looking for some advice on upgrading our network infrastructure as it is old and has for sometime been running very slow.

We currently have 25 Netgear switches, of various models (GS748T, GS724T, GS524T, GS724TS, GS516T & GS108). These are all situated around the premises within 14 Network cabinets. Each cabinet has a patch panel which is linked by CAT5e cable back to one main switch.

We are currently getting quotes to have fibre links installed between the main switch and the 14 network cabinets.
So far,  we have been given different advice, one suggesting that installing fibre and using your current switches will solve your problems,  the other being, your current switches are not up to the job and installing fibre will make no difference.

Any advice will be much appreciated.
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I would look at that second answer as probable. I don't think you will see a big difference. It would serve you well to analyze your traffic and determine why it is slow and then approach the reason(s).

Slow traffic could be caused by many things. A bad NIC could cause issues, a few bad ports in a single switch/router could do it... An analysis is in order. Wireshark would be a good place to start.

I hope that helps.
Rob WilliamsCommented:
Have you had the network cabling properly tested and certified, at least the 14 key links?  The number one cause of poor network performance is bad cabling, which can be as simple as untwisted pairs at the termination points causing cross-talk.
colonytireDirector of TechnologyCommented:
How many total devices? Is this all the same subnet or are the 14 locations on their own network?  If you have gigabit switches I am not sure migrating to fibre would help.  Also do your existing switches have a port for connecting Fibre adapters?
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First, you need to check your interface statistics to see if you have any errors. In principle there should be no errors.

Fiber could be way to sort out errors, if there are any - or it could be a way to upgrade speeds. If you are investing in new infrastructure you should probably consider 10 gbps for the backbone links.

You should also do dual links for all backbone links, and use link aggregation - for extra redundancy and speed.

With regards to vendor selection ceck what is out there, including Juniper EX series.

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StokeHighAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the responses, very helpful.

The cabling was put in on the cheap, due to limited funds, so not properly tested.

We have approx 300 devices all on one subnet. All switches are Gig and most have Fibre ports and are between 3 and 6 years old.

It's now looking likely that we're going to upgrade the switches, hopefully funds permitting,  we will go down the 10gbps backbone route.

Anymore recommendation on switch manufacture apart from Juniper?
We are a Cisco shop here, but HP Switches are now showing up very strong due to price point and maintenance included. I have my eye on using some HP ProCurve series in a new facility we are setting up.
For a relatively simple switched network like this, also Extreme will usually be very competitive.

For each vendor, make sure you take their advice on high level design.

You have about 25 switches, and with dual uplinks for redundancy, that would be about 50 x 10G port on the core switch. With Juniper you would have very nice redundancy by using a "virtual chassis" consisting of two EX4500 switches as core switch.
   The access could be simple stand-alone EX2200, or virtual chassis made up of EX3300 or EX4200.

Make sure you take into account PoE requirements, total power budget on each switch, and if you need any PoE+ capabilities.
Rob WilliamsCommented:
You mention; "The cabling was put in on the cheap". Upgrading switches will have no benifit if the wiring is not properly installed.  I have seen dozens of cases where thousands of dollars were spent only to discover later that there were issues with the wiring.  Large accounting package vendors like ADP will not even install thier products untill you can show them a recent network certification.
StokeHighAuthor Commented:
We have now decided to install fibre, replace all the switches and get rest of the cabling tested.

Thanks for all your advice.
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