We're setting up a branch office with no dedicated IT person (all IT support is remote from HQ) and trying to make the infrastructure as redundant as possible. We've dealt with Internet and power, but I'm still worried about what would happen if the switch failed. The desktops in the office are all basic PCs so they don't have the ability to bond their Ethernet connections, and there are a bunch of IP phones. The switches are two Cisco Catalyst 2900s.

In this kind of setup, is there a way of configuring things so that a switch failure doesn't take out half the desktops and phones in the office? Do only high-end data center switches provide that level of redundancy?

Thanks for any pointers!

  • Do you mean half the office is connected to switch A, and the other half to B, and the two switched are connected together with a single link (possibly from A to router to B.) – tombull89 Apr 18 '12 at 8:44
  • It is not clear what your setup is. Do you have two remote switches (2900) at the remote location? If so, how are connected to HQ? Two independent links? Are they connected together? – ank Apr 18 '12 at 8:53
  • @tombull89: Half the office to switch A, half to switch B, the two connected together, and both connected to a Peplink appliance for Internet failover. – Hari Apr 18 '12 at 9:15
  • @ank: Sorry, didn't know how much information was too much. The two 2900s are at the remote location. They're connected as described in the earlier comment. – Hari Apr 18 '12 at 9:17

Build your redundancy based on the probability of the actual failure of a particular component and the impact to the business of such a failure.

In 12 years in IT I don't think I've ever seen a switch fail outright.

Unless you plan on dual homing everything that connects to the network, my suggestion would be to purchase a spare switch, rack it with the other switches, and have it ready so that if you do have a switch fail you can simply move the patch cables from the failed switch to the spare switch. You should be able to do this and be back up and running on the spare switch in a matter of minutes.

  • That's good advice, thanks; the Cisco 2900s have a high MTBF. The business impact of a failure would be high (the office does customer service for a web site) and is staffed by people with such little technical skill that I don't think they could move the patch cables from one switch to the other correctly. That's my worry. – Hari Apr 18 '12 at 10:42

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