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I have a half-dozen servers and workstations in an office. The systems are connected to a Cisco SG200 gigabit switch in the room. The room has two gigabit wall-port ethernet outlets. I have the switch connected to one of the wall ports. I'd like to make use of the other port to increase throughput to/from the systems in the room. However, our network organization does not support link teaming/aggregation between switches for switches they don't install and control themselves (for reasons that make sense for our institution), so I can't set up my switch to use link aggregation over two ethernet connections directly to the wall port.

How can I put the additional port to best use? One alternative is to directly connect it to another NIC on one chosen computer, so at least one system can take advantage of dual links. But perhaps there is a better configuration? I would ideally like to see the highest throughput possible between any system in the room and the outside world. It's a shame to bottleneck all network connections to a single gigabit line.

The servers mostly serve web pages (which includes some large content like videos) and REST-based network services that involve file transfers in the multi-megabyte range.

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One cheeky and simple way to do this is to use two switches rather than one. You could then uplink half of your devices to one switch and half on the other, and thereby double your total throughput.

If you then require more outgoing throughput from a single server, you could bond the two interfaces with uplinks to both switches in your room. Just make sure you use a bonding mode that is intended for this kind of application (that uses different MAC addresses for traffic out of the two interfaces).

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Maybe I'm confused or being silly, but Linux supports bonding even if the switch doesn't. Is there some way you could stick a Linux router between the switch and the outside world?

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  • It's possible. I simply assumed that a dedicated switch would be faster than Linux system used in this capacity. Am I wrong? – mhucka Oct 3 '15 at 17:39
  • I would imagine it depends how it is setup. Those switches are just little computers running an OS, maybe even Linux. I know it's kind of a hack, but it sounds like your situation may call for it. :) – Ryan Babchishin Oct 3 '15 at 17:41
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A switch is more than just a little computer. It contains a chipset that allows wirespeed transfer of packets from one port to another. Hooking a switch to a linux box and then to the outside world will probably cut throughput in half rather than increase it. Now MikroTik routers contain a switch chip inside and can drop packets down to using the switch even when routed (called Fasttrack). In my experience you get about 90% of the speed you'd get using a straight switch. Were it me though I'd look at using an "asymmetric" VLAN in reverse on a switch capable of that. They can be had for less that $100. Wall port 1 to PVID1 and wall port 2 to PVID2 in the switch. Everthing in the room on PVID3 which contains VLANs 1 and 2. In this scenario the VLANS only exist inside the switch everything external is oblivious to them.

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