Using multiple Switches on a small LAN network

Hi all - I am installing new wiring for Ethernet access for a small 3-person office (about 15 feet by 25 feet), and want to install 12 Ethernet Jacks in the walls, 4 for each person/office. I am wondering of there is any difference (besides cost) if I setup the network, starting with the incoming Gateway/Modem, either:

OPTION #1 Use one larger 20-Port Switch and run individual 12 Ethernet lines to the 12 Jacks/Devices, 4 to each office
OPTION #2 Use a 4-Port Switch, run 3 single Ethernet lines out to the 3 different offices, into another 4-Port Switch in each office, then run 4 Ethernet lines for the Jacks/Devices
OPTIONS #3 Other way to do this?

Hope that makes sense!  Specifics, if it matters:
The Internet Provider is AT&T Business Fiber, 25MB Down, 5MB Up, each office has 1 Mac, 1 Windows box, 1 or 2 Network Printers, and 1 IP Phone (Polycom VVX 410 via 8x8 IP Phone Service Provider. Is a "casual" office, not a call-center. No heavy demand on IP except the occasional Video download and maybe 2 IP Phone calls at the same time)
Thanks in advance for any thoughts!
- B
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Chaining Switches in such a small office creates an unneeded nighmare.

Patch panel to which all feeds terminate, then you connect the ports you want/need into the switch that is being fed by the Internet Feed.

Do not run lines directly to the switch.  Panel helps maintain references:
port 1 feed to router
port 2 station 1 (Port A of f
Port 3 Station 1 port B

Depending where the PBX is QoS and VLAN to separate VOICE FROM DATA traffic ....
Tony GiangrecoCommented:
If you install one good 24 port Gig (wire speed) managed switch, that should handle all your needs and provide a few extra ports for growth.

I specify a managed switch because you want to turn QOS on for the ports where Voip service is used.

With a managed switch, you can login and turn QOS on only for the ports where the VIOP phones are plugged in. This provides priority for those ports so you don't get a dropped call or garbled voice like a bad cell phone connection.

Depending on the phones, you may also need power over Ethernet (POE). Some phones allow the use of an AC Adapter. If you use the adapter, then the POE option is not needed.

Here are a few switches to look over. I don't know if you have a budget in mind, but this provides some managed switches that can be used with the QOS option.

Hope this helps!

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sharjeel ashrafSenior Network EngineerCommented:
another good cheap POE switch is HP1900 series, these are cheap and designed for small office's.
your option 2 would be good for cheap and quick setup, 3 offices and 4 switches doesn't make good sense but would get the job done quickly and then give you time to look at getting proper quality wiring and switches.
patch panels and cabinets can make the cost of networking for small business a little bit high. but make sense further down the line when the business grows.
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Tony GiangrecoCommented:
Have we answered your question?
bleggeeAuthor Commented:
Yes, very much so!  I think we will go with a quick solution & hire a decent datacom/cabling company to come in & do it right, with the patch panel & all.
One last question, regarding the issue with the chained Switches ... I presume that with multiple switches that the network *will* work fine, but that it creates a "labling and cabling" mess as we grow & add hardware?
Do I risk packet loss etc when using chained switches (Assuming that they are chained correctly)
Tony GiangrecoCommented:
Just so they are managed switches and you set them up properly for your VoIP phones, you shouldn't have a problem.
bleggeeAuthor Commented:
Great!  We are going to do it correctly after all. Patch Panel, etc.
So FiberCable -> ATT Modem -> Patch Panel -> Managed Switch - > Computers, Devices, Printers, IP Phones
Since the ATT Modem if a COMBO Box, with WiFI, it seems to me that someone using the WiFi could interfere with the VOIP/VOS, because they are grabbing internet bandwidth "before" the managed switch.  Is this correct, and I should disable the WiFi in the Combo Box and add WiFi plugged into the Switch (Downstream from the Switch) ?
Or is the WiFi treated differently and I can continue to use the Combo Box?
Tony GiangrecoCommented:
If you are only using wifi for smartphone web access, I suggest assigning a 2nd ip scheme for wifi devices.

Internal network IP: 10.0.0.x or 192.168.1.x
Wifi Network IP: 172.100.150.x

With this setup, WIFI users should not have access to your desktops or Voip phones.
Tony GiangrecoCommented:
That WIFI scheme may not work as an actual private IP scheme... it's just an example. You could modify it as needed for your network.
Chaining is fine when the chained devices are in close proximate (in the same place) versus all over the place meaning you will coninually when an issue arises will have to trace.

sharjeel ashrafSenior Network EngineerCommented:
most good modem / routers can setup VoIP QOS, therefore allowing you to prioritize voice traffic over data, giving you better quality voice connection and stopping anyone grabbing all the bandwidth.
setting up 2 IP's can also allow you to control the amount of bandwidth the second range can use, this can be sometimes a little more complex and your modem / router might not support this feature, disable the onboard WIFI, and add a single WIFI access point attached to your switch would allow better control of the WIFI and still use the same outside NAT from internal range.
bleggeeAuthor Commented:
THANK YOU all 3 of you for the help, patience, and comments.
Ordered everything and moving ahead !
- B
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