New Small Office Network with VOIP Wiring and Switch Choices

Posted on 2012-08-11
Last Modified: 2015-02-20
I am setting up our new small office network in our new suite. We will have about 16 locations for data and voip. We are pulling all new wire using Cat6. We use a hosted VOIP solution. At some point in the near future we will have a 25mb fiber internet connection. Internally we share data with a NAS, but are considering a server in the near future. Trying to figure out the following:

1. Should we have 2 networks, 1 for VOIP and 1 for DATA? (The VOIP Phones have 10/100 switches.)
2. We would like to use POE for convenience. 1 x 24 port 10/100 POE and 1 x 24 port 10/100/1000 switch? Or, one 48 port 10/100/1000 with 24 POE ports?
3. Managed or unmanaged switches? (I figure if its a 48 port with 24 POE ports it should be a smartswitch or managed if we have 2 networks?)
4. If we need managed is smartswitch enough?
5. If a single network, do you separate the traffic with VLANS? Subnets? Not necessary? QoS?

I apologize in advance if I am not asking this the right way. I've been doing a lot of reading on the subject and may have confused some things. Thanks for the help.
Question by:ccbe
    LVL 4

    Accepted Solution

    - Not necessarily 2 networks, as the internal LAN speed should be fine, unless you have A LOT  of LAN traffic, moving large graphics and video files etc.

    - What you should instead consider is 2 Internet connections, as that is where your clipping will most likely occur.  Then to avoid NAT, you use public IP addresses for your phones.

      - However with the right firewall, you won't need 2 Internet connections, and you can survive NAT. The problem is, most firewalls suck, and will screw up your NAT. Stay away from ALG SIP stuff.

    - QOS yes, but that is a very broad term. You need a sophisticated firewall. Like IP Tables and TC from Linux. Difficult to configure, but it will do the job. Sonicwall and all this other commercial garbage will have you pulling your hair out.

      - Depends on your needs. POE is cool, but do you really need it? If it's managed, and you have big internal LAN traffic, then you can do one switch, and it should be managed.

    Hopefully your hosted provider has a really good solution, right down to the firewall, and knows what they are doing. Otherwise this is going to be a nightmare.

    Author Comment

    Thanks for the response. I have some follow up questions and info as well:

    One thing I forgot to mention is that we are trying to do this as economically and simply as possible. We have hosted VOIP, email etc because its not our primary business or strategic to our business. Having the support outsourced along with most of the infrastructure gives us people to call 24/7 for issues with no need for onsite access most of the time. If there is something we can do with our infrastructure to simplify this further, make it easier to troubleshoot and fix, then I thought it would be worth trying.

    - 2 Networks: Though we do move rather large graphic and video files, the idea of 2 networks was primarily to avoid the issues with the VOIP providers around call issues. If its not a bandwidth issue I was thinking this would eliminate the other supposed culprits. We are doing new wiring anyway, figured it would be easy to to do 2 drops. Also, phones have 10/100 switches, so it slows our gigabit network if we were ever using that speed. Also, we could do as you suggest and avoid NAT by giving the phones outside IP addresses and avoiding the firewall altogether. (Is there any security issues with this?)

    - The right firewall: What's the right firewall? :) I think a linux box is beyond us and we are trying to have support outsourced as much as possible as mentioned above.

    - POE: not needed of course, but eliminating the extra cord and plug makes the setup a bit more elegant and the office look neater. For the $100-$200 premium over a non-POE 24 port 10/100 switch, it seemed worth it to me. However, I'm not sure if there are features in comparing the two that I might be giving up. So, bottom line not necessary, and if it makes things easier to manage and cheaper to lose this piece, no problem. Let me know.

    - Hosted provider solution: I have had a D-Link Home Office Router recommended and an Edgewater 200 series.

    Thanks as always. I look forward to any responses.
    LVL 4

    Assisted Solution

    If you completely segregate the networks, and have 2 different Internet connections, it will help tremendously with the QOS problem. Without 2 internet connections, the 2 networks won't really help you. I doubt the internal LAN traffic will hurt the audio quality. It's the Internet traffic that clips.

    Depending on the types of phones you have, you can set a password on the configuration web interface. The biggest security problem is a hacker getting into the web gui of the phone, other than that, I would not be too concerned about the security of the phone. NAT is your enemy with this, and without a lot of patience and good firewall, it will kill you.

    As for those firewalls, I personally do not have much experience with them, although I generally do not care for DLink. Edgewater is recommended a lot by VoIP hardware resellers, but I have never used one.

    Your VoIP provider should handle most of the NAT and QOS stuff, and if they are reputable, then they have most likely done it before. Hopefully it is not their first rodeo.

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