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As we expanded throughout the building we now own completely, offices were physically disconnected. This was back when 10Mbps was still usable, and there were printers and workstations acting as fileservers and whatnot in each office suite. Thus it was simple to just run a single 100Mbps line from the primary switch to a switch in one of the disconnected suites. Isolating traffic per suite was somewhat beneficial, and it was easy to tie into the existing network in each suite (if it existed).

This pattern continued, and we now have 9 switches. The bulk of the machines in the building are on a big, quality switch, and then there are little cheapo switches in each of the "suites" which no longer technically exist.

As it stands now, there is absolutely no reason to have departments on separate switches since all traffic is going through the big switch regardless of where it starts out. Thus I've just got potentially worse performance (not an issue yet) and more failure points.

I'm considering collapsing the whole thing slowly over time when I have the need to pull cable. So let's say I've got 10 drops in a particular "suite", I'll need to pull ten cables over from the primary switch. Do I patch into the wall drops with a regular patch panel, or is there a special kind of patch panel for what is essentially "splicing" (that is, I'd have a run from patch panel to patch panel to wall jack). Do I consider pulling out the old drops and pulling the new lines directly to the wall plate?

Other than looking bad and a cheapo switch occasionally giving me grief, I'm not sure that there is a compelling reason to change things. In a few weeks I have to pull some cable, and that's the only reason I thought about this. What are your thoughts?

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Do you not have any cable-length issues to deal with, ethernet's not supposed to go more an 100m in one run. – Chopper3 Jan 15 '10 at 23:32
The big switch is centrally located. The farthest endpoint is under 300 feet from the switch. – Boden Jan 16 '10 at 0:01
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I think what you are looking for when you refer to a splicing patch panel would be a 110 block.

You would run your cables from the main switch to the area in the suite where the switch is now and punch them down to the 110 block.

Then you would take your runs going into the suite and terminate them on the 110 block.

Take a look at this 110 block wiring guide to see a visual of it.

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Yeah, I use 110's for telephone, and I actually happen to have a Cat5e punch just seems wrong somehow. That would make more sense though than a patch panel. – Boden Jan 16 '10 at 4:34
They are rated for it though and meet the need that you described. Sure you could have the two patch panels and shorty cables running between but seems like the 110 would be cleaner. – ManiacZX Jan 16 '10 at 6:58

If it's feasible and if you have the budget for it I would run all the cabling from the central patch panel directly to each wall jack. Alternatively, you could run the cabling from the central patch panel to wiring closet patch panels and from there to each wall jack. From each wiring closet you can uplink to the central switch with high speed closet switches. I would recommend running CAT5e to each wall jack for phone and data and recommend 3 ports per wall jack. This gives you 3 ports at each wall jack that can be used for voice or data plus a spare.

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Thanks. I've got enough drops. Your idea of closet switches is exactly what I currently have...they're just not in closets. :) The idea is to get rid of the little localized switches and just have one central switch. – Boden Jan 16 '10 at 4:39
Right, but instead of 9 switches you collapse them to two or three. Sometimes (because of budget, etc.) It's not possible to have runs all the way from the central switch to each wall jack, but you know your layout the best. :) – joeqwerty Jan 16 '10 at 12:38

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