Maximum Number of switched hops in a network

35 pts.
Tags:
Network
Network design
Trying to get a definitive answer on how many switched hops you can put in a network. I'm trying to reach a portion of our building, that with the bends and twists and turns in the wiring, I'd be looking at about 400 - 500 feet straight through. I do already have three switched hops from my server to the end point now (server -> hop1 -> hop2 -> hop3). According to the research I've already found from googling and my own knowledge, the 5-4-3-2 rule wouldn't apply anymore because of the switches in play. I'm not worried about capacity as there are only a few users connected to each switch. Latency I wouldn't imagine would be too horrible. So, can you confirm, deny, or answer: How many hops can I truly do? Would latency be a big problem? Am I correct in assuming distance is no longer a factor because no single hop is over 100m? Thank you in advance for your help!! -Dustin
ASKED: July 2, 2008  3:57 PM
UPDATED: July 8, 2008  7:43 PM

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Just to add another perspective to what Bobkberg and Labnuke99 provided:

If you are making multiple runs to systems in distant areas, you could always do an uplink to a far end switch, and patch in users from there. The advantage in that instance would be making shorter runs at the other end instead of having to make multiple long runs. You save on man hours and cabling expenses.

I have a network that I work on which was already set up that way. It helps out a lot when I have to add a drop at the far end and I have a patch panel or switch close by.

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  • Labnuke99
    Why wouldn't you run fiber to the remote end of the building from your main distribution facility (MDF)? Put the traffic over fiber which has a longer distance rating (2km).
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  • Bobkberg
    Labnuke's point is correct, but I'd like to beat on the subject a little more. Any time you can avoid daisy-chaining a switched network is a major plus. The only reason to not follow Labnuke's suggestion is where the cost to re-run fiber is prohibitive. This would include things like conduits stuffed to capacity, working in a very old building, legacy equipment with no options (or budget) for upgrade. Even so, there may be the opportunity to reconfigure the layout to be more like a star than a daisy chain, since that will also reduce the number of hops for any given frame, and will keep the traffic off of segments where it's not required. Bob
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  • Robert Stewart
    Run fiber or adhere to the 5-4-3-2 rule.
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  • Schmidtw
    Borrowing from Bobkberg's response: Daisy-chaining + networking = bad. (information from floor 7 has to push through switches on floors 6,5,4,3, etc...) Star Topology + networking = good. (information from floor 7 is sent directly to backbone) Remember, the farthes component will be pushing information through along side every other closer component...too much traffic will greatly decrease performance. And borrowing from Labnuke99's response: 1. Network Cable (cat6) has much higher headroom than cat5. 2. Consider fiber optic cabling. Also consider this: You probably have GB ports on your switches, but if you are daisy-chaining, normal traffic is easily FAR above GB. Also, if you don't have matched NICs for speed, GB switches are useless.
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