Would upgrading to a managed/faster switch help?

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Microsoft Windows
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I have a client that currenlty has an unmanaged 10/100 24 port D-Link switch. I was wondering the pros and cons to upgrading to a Cisco 2950 10/100/1000 switch. The current (simplified) network diagram. Clients/Server----->Dlink Switch----->Linksys Router----->Internet I was thinking, if possible, upgrade to the Cisco switch because it has two 10/100/1000 ports. Could I plug the server into one of them and the other port could go to the internet? All clients use software applications/data off the server and this would increase the bandwitdth to the server. Or can these ports only be used for trunking to other switches/routers?

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First, the internet connection side of the network configuration is not going to matter unless you have over a 100 MB internet connection. Most ISPs do not go over a 10 to 15 MB connection for small business.
Moving to a managed switch can be a big help. I recently moved our small business from a 24 port Linksys unmanaged to a 24 port Linksys managed switch. I bought a starter Linksys SRW2024 (for about 20% of the cost of the Cisco). It has 24 1000MB ports. This switch was very easy to set up and I can learn managed switches as I go. It is not as feature packed as the bigger Cisco, but for a beginner, it is very forgiving and comes preset to learn your network.
I see a benefit from the 24 1000 MB ports for data between my engineering computeres and my server. Makes a tremendous difference. As I buy new computers (or network cards if I need the speed sooner), the other users will also start to see an improvement in internal network speed.
Hope this helps.

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  • Celtic
    Hello, First of all, the Cisco 2950-24 switch is a very good one and I recommend it as a good upgrade to the D-Link switch you currently have. Plugging the server into one of the Giga ports will not be a benefit, for the Internet bandwidth you have will surely not go above 10M-20M (as stated in the previous reply). Second, a Router is a very importent part of an Internet-based network, so don't take it out of the equation ! Just plug the server into one of the 24 FastEthernet ports. The two Giga ports on the 2950SX-24 switch are mainly for Uplink and are best used as such (for your needs it could be a connector for recking up switches). Hope I helped...
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  • Sauravsen
    The main advantage for the managed switch is that you can monitor the performance of the switch, reboot it if it hangs, and for the Cisco, you can set one port where you can inspect the traffic on your network to analyze your network. Regarding your internet connection, the switch will not help at all, unless you have a very fast Internet connection - 50 MBps or more. Connecting your server to the 1000MBps port may not help unless your server is saturating a 100 MBps network connection. You may be better off looking at Disk I/O to improve your server's performance. You can use the Gigabit ports to uplink switches. Use your server's performance monitoring tools or management tools to check whether something is limiting your server's performance. Another thing is that your workstations may be generating a lot of network broadcasts. Moving your network to a VLAN may make sense. This is of course possible only on switches that support VLANs. I hope that this helps you.
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  • Skepticals
    Thanks to all that replied. Your thoughts have helped me out. I think I was not a clear as I should have been regarding the increased speed issue. I didn't mean out to the internet; I was speaking about internal LAN communication between the clients and the server. We use an application that runs on the server and the clients. The clients need to talk to the sever and I didn't know if a better switch would help this communication. I'm assuming different switches have different speeds and features. I would like to have a managed switch for the monitoring features as well. I am trying to create a list of pros to show to the non-tech boss that will need to pay for said device. I know he understands increased speed - not so sure about the VLAN, monitoring, ect. Thank you!
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  • Gforsythe
    Some great replies, I'll add my 2 cents to reinforce. I myself am doing a similar upgrade on the network I just inherited with my new job. The Cisco is top shelf, the linksys managed is middle shelf, the linksys unmanged (or in my opinion any unmanaged switch in a business with an IT person) is bottom shelf. Not being able to look at my network has been a huge headache and a blemish on my ablility to run my IT department. Putting the internet of a gig port is a waste, as mentioned... I recommend monitoring your server traffic on the NIC, if it is pegging out the 10/100, and has a gig NIC, put it on the gig port, if is not needed for uplinking. I am configuring from a C2960 gig switch to 3 c2950 10/100 switches for distribution. I'll bring in 3 T1's from remote sites to a Cisco 2811 router and then to the C2960. I'll bring the internet there as well only to consolidate traffic on the correct layer, plus I have more gig ports that I can fill so it's not a real waste (I will keep this flexible for potential future change). All my servers (seven) connect to the C2960 as well in a dual NIC mode for 3 of them since they are mission critical applications. You need to understand you connection speeds, port usage and bandwidth use when designing a network, that's just to name a few. I have taken numerouse courses in network design each for a different layer of the network. Each business has different layout, arragement, uses and needs take all that into consideration, remain flexible, and do what will work best for your entire scope (it works and you can manage it). Good Luck Greg
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  • bmarone
    The Cisco managed/configurable switch can help with control and monitoring of the network, but should in theory perform the same as the DLink, given the same nature to send packets directly to the destination port vs a hub blattering all traffic on all ports. You could look on amazon or epinions or the like to get example pros about the 2950. But I'd rate it highly as a "Corporate" switch, where DLink doesn't have the name-clout behind. But to improve the client/server app, you may have to do some old-fashioned diagnosis, targetted towards your possible solutions. You could use WireShark for simple packet tracing to make sure the traffic is proper, check for fragmented packets. You could check the client and server NICs to make sure there's no errors. You can check the memory usage on the server, or if it's Windows just add more RAM in general. If it's an app using HTTP/XML you might use server-side options to compress the data. All of these problems are things a new switch would not help for data transmission, though the packet-analysis would be useful.
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  • bmarone
    Forgot to mention, I vote against putting the server or Internet on the gig ports. The Internet should not need it unless you're on a *REALLY* big pipe. For the server, even if your port is saturated (which is doubtful) you likely won't see an improvement if all the clients are 100meg. You only see improvement between two gig connections. If there was one machine with particularly heavy usage, you might move that client and the server to the gig ports. The other thing with the gig ports, we've found we had to set the negotiation properly for certain protocols to work.
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  • Marcola
    Again there are a lot of good points here and I will put in my 2.5 cents worth! You will gain little in the 1000mb to the server if you aren't 1000mb to the desktop with the exception that you can eliminate the 100mb bottlenecks and have a little bandwidth leftover. Your throughput is going to be attenuated by your weakest link. Server to Server communications with lots of disk I/O's would benefit from a teamed 1000mb NIC configuration. A lot depends on how much true client/server data is being pushed across the switch. An abnormally gross amount would cause me to consider a portal application such as Citrix MetaFrame.
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  • Paul144hart
    Another point - What is the fabric speed of your ne switches? This has to be high enough to avoid having the switch itself as the bottle neck. I have seen where ganging the maximum allowed ports of an expandable switch is above the max through of the switch itself. Its the same comparison as 'is the server loaded or fast enough to actually use the gig port'?
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  • Astronomer
    As most of the responses say, the main advantage is monitoring, not bandwidth. With the current situation it's difficult to see who is using most of the switch or even if you need to make changes. Our environment has a gig backbone and the servers are connected by a gig switch. The only time we normally use this bandwidth is the nightly backups to a central server. Our Dell servers seem to max out around 300Mbit. (The silicon mechanics box we use for backups handles two of these streams at the same time.) It's theoretically possible you could use more than 100Mbit if more than one client wants data at the same time. I wouldn't use this as a reason to get a bigger switch unless you have the evidence this is happening in hand. We are very pleased with our HP switches, (recently upgraded to mostly 2650s), We can manage them centrally and have a few sniffer ports running to applications like ntop. We also have a sniffer port on our cisco 3550 to constantly watch the internet traffic. In summary, I recommend you get a manageable switch to keep track of your network, not for the additional bandwidth, although the new switch will set you up for future growth. The cisco 2950 is one of many good options out there. rt
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