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A LAN of 70 - 80 users, with 6 Servers (DB, Mai, Web, AD, File) ; we are thinking to upgrade the switches ;

Your suggestions / recommendations required as to which ones to get and how to connect them ;

We were thinking to get Gigabit switch to connect our servers with and layer 2 Fast ethernet switches for desktop users, uplink the lan switch to the gigabit switch for servers

all desktops have 10/100 NICs

Any suggestions recommendations / any tools (free) to check the Lan traffic pattern ?

Thanks Phrontiste

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6 Answers 6

Cisco switches are great, don't get me wrong. But.. They're bloody expensive. How about a HP ProCurve switch for about a third of the price. They're pretty damn good too.

Avoid Cisco "Small Business", Linksys, and Netgear. Anything that's properly managed, and not with a pathetic web interface, is probably along the right lines. You want something a bit more meaty, especially if you want SNMP.

Have a look around the Procurve switch selector. I suspect you might want something like the 2810 or 2610 switch. Depends if you want to do any routing.

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HP is also a great alternative, however I dont work much with HP and have no idea bout their featuresets =) –  Rune Nilssen Dec 29 '09 at 0:55
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HP's lifetime warranty is excellent...and no support contracts to pay. Their switches are just as good if not better than Cisco's gear. In my opinion most of what you're paying for with Cisco's is the name. –  3dinfluence Dec 29 '09 at 1:08
    
I agree that commercially the Procurves make sense but I'd question how they might be 'better'? –  Chopper3 Dec 30 '09 at 11:40

I primarily use Cisco due to the fore mentioned reasons: familiarity and to keep all the gear homogeneous.

That said, while I've yet to use them I hear HP ProCurve is an excellent alternative not to mention Extreme and Foundry as well.

I have also had luck with Dell PowerConnect managed switches, in particular the 62xx series. My budget for the project didn't allow for the alternatives I mentioned but luckily the Dell's worked flawlessly and performed well. Again, make sure this is the managed line of Dell's switches; and managed meaning CLI and not just web-based like some of their lower end kit. The best part is that while the warranty wasn't unlimited like the HP's, they were cheap enough that I bought an extra as a cold standby. The 6200's also support L3 routing.

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Unfortunately foundry is more or less out of business since they were bought up. As far as foundry goes we have a couple BigIron foundrys and we've had some software issues with these, so we're back at the new catalyst 4900s because of this.. –  Rune Nilssen Dec 29 '09 at 2:08
    
Having a fully homogeneous network can be a dangerous thing. If you have a network built on a single vendor's products, then you discover a software or hardware fault/bug on that product line, then you could lose connectivity across the entire network infrastructure. This could be a Very Bad Thing. –  Tom O'Connor Dec 29 '09 at 10:53

Personally I prefer cisco switches for my networks, mostly to stick with a homogeneous network but also for ease of management.

Your question isnt that easy to answer because you have very few feature requirements and said nothing about budget. What I would look into is five or so Catalyst 2960G's (or possibly 3560G if you have room in your budget) set up in a ring structure.

THis gives you the following benefits:

  • All servers and clients on gig interfaces. Thus prepared for future needs.
  • Network can be set up redundant using rapid spannin tree, thus hw failure only affects users directly terminated on switch. Having only one make of switches also helps here as you can always rearrange the switches so that your servers still are online if a switch fails.
  • Fairly cheap switches.
  • ACL features in switch, allows you to filter traffic to servers as needed for added security. Though do look into the specs of the actual switches you are considering to make sure they can deal with the expected load.
  • All switches are managed, allows for better control of the network if needed. For instance you can shutdown ports electrically when not used etc.
  • The ability to mirror ports thus allowing a network monitoring system to snoop on all traffic in the netework.
  • Switches support SNMP.

Theres probably several other advantages.

On the other hand if you are looking for a cheap setup, perhaps a Catalyst 2960G for "core" and some cheap dumb swithces with no management from any third party and just attach them in a star setup as you described.

As for management, theres alot of tools out there depending on your needs. Id probably just stick with some generic SNMP tools like perhaps Cacti, but it all depends on the complexity you want and features you need.

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Along the lines of what Rune Nilssen said, most of my experience is with Cisco. If you want to stick with Cisco but don't want to pay the premium for the Catalyst series, you can always look at the Catalyst Express switches. They're configured via a web interface instead of the command line interface. We have 30 of them deployed as access switches and I have had no problem, outside of an issue with initial configuration using Vista/Windows 7.

If you need to have different VLANs because your workstations and servers are on seperate networks, you'll need a layer 3 switch. I know the express switches don't do layer 3 and I don't believe any of the catalyst 2XXX series switches do it either. The 3XXX and up switches should all do layer 3(routing).

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You don't need a layer3 switch to do vlan's. But you need a layer3 switch or a router if you need to route traffic between the vlans. –  3dinfluence Dec 29 '09 at 1:07
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Nooooo! Catalyst Express are seriously lacking in functionality, and there's some epic bugs in the web interface. It's painful to use them. After the experience I've had with Cat Express switches, I don't think i'd even recommend them to my worst enemy. –  Tom O'Connor Dec 29 '09 at 10:55
    
3dinfluence, yes, you are correct. That's actually what I meant, but wrote poorly. ;) Tom, I've never really seen any bugs. What problems have you experienced? –  Ian Dec 29 '09 at 15:34

Thank you all for your detailed responses, it helped me and I am inclined on the following idea :

LinkSys Switch (This is 48Port GB Switch and is way too cheaper - why ?) http://www.broadbandbuyer.co.uk/Shop/Specifications.asp?ProductID=2988

I am inclined towards HP Procurve ; but due to budget I can't select 2 x 48PORT Gigabit switch, so I am selecting 2 of the following :

HP Procurve 2510 broadbandbuyer.co.uk/Shop/Specifications.asp?ProductID=8419

I will then get a Gigabit switch 12 / 16 port to connect the servers with and uplink the two procurve 2510 (10/100) to the gigabit switches ?

2510's are stackable, so i would stack 2 switches for lan users and use a Gigabit uplink to the server switches.

Do you think I should create V-Lans with 70 users ? traffic is mainly desktop to server (MAIL, file shares) etc

EDIT :

Also, I had a look at Dell offerings and there Powerconnect switches are :

Dell 3548 48 Layer 2 GigaBit £390 Dell 5424 24 Layer 2 GigaBit £550 Dell 5448 48 Layer 2 GigaBit £790

Confused now, your expert opinion required :-)

Kind Regards

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I too am a Cisco-guy through and through and although all these cheaper options are seriously good value I'd still pick up a couple of Cisco Catalyst 3750G-48TS switches.

I know them very well; they're pretty capable L3 switches, can have redundant PSUs, plenty of ports, aren't too expensive and you can easily find loads of skilled people who can setup and maintain them.

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