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Small Office Network - Modem, Router, Switch

By edanfalls
May 3, 2010
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  1. Hello,

    I am moving my small business into a new office in a few days and could do with some advice on configuring the network.

    There are RJ45 connections in every room which is cool, these all feed into a 48-port patch panel which the last guys left behind.

    Every PC on the network needs to be able to access the internet, our storage server and other network attached devices such as printers and faxes.

    Q1). If our modem goes into a router, and the router goes into a switch box, and all PCs and other devices including the storage server are patched into the switch box, will this work? We will be using one dedicated IP, and I believe that if the modem goes straight into the switch box, each PC will unsuccessfully compete for that same IP. So does going through a router alleviate this?

    Q2). Do patch panels have speed limitations? Despite being entirely passive, is it possible that the patch panel might only be 100Mbit? I haven't bought the switch box yet, so would like to know if there's any point going for 1Gbit over 100Mbit. Couldn't see a model number on it unfortunately.

    Thanks in advance,
    Will
  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,407   +314

    you are correct on both points. the issue is where does the DHCP service originate {the router or a Domain Controller[*]}?
    No, the panel is entirely passive and therefore invisible to the network. Active components, eg routers & switches could be factors.
    You are at that point of an investment and cudos to you for asking before diving in :wave:

    This is the time to create a Gigabyte backbone and use 100mb client access to it (not GBit). This will ensure the whole network gets good service an not single client can dominate it. The sole exception I would make is to use a GB nic in every server system attached.

    [*] Instead of using the router to provide DHCP, a better choice is the Domain Controller server (provided you use one :) ). You can then configure static addresses from one location and set the DHCP range in the same place. DHCP and DNS typically are from the same server, while Exchange and Active Directory are elsewhere.
  3. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 4,655   +82

    Each node should be set to auto for NIC connected to the patch panel then to the switch (assign port speed through your managed switch) Best to get Gig switching throughput is much larger than the old 10/100 (6/60) compare 10/100/1000 (6/60/600) this would assure each node gets the correct speed and throughput. I still feel and a lot of Network Engineers agree that all 100 TBase should be kept on their own switch and Gig base systems should be on Gig switch.
  4. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,407   +314

    hmm; We just completed a rework of a backbone where all router<-->router is now all gigabit and all router<-->client is 100mbps to provide a self-tuning network and avoid any client dominating the router or the subnet to which it is attached.

    Networking is always fun :wave:
  5. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 4,655   +82

    Oh the Network Refresh Project is what it's named here. Also had a VLAN Project too. Well I find over here pretty much the same. All the clients want Gig this gig that. So the cost to replace older Cisco 10/100 switches to Cisco 3750 gig 24/48-ports about 20,000 have to be installed into 5,000 network closets. Also there are some Nortel gig switches being installed in network closets that don't provide enough cooling. Because of the factory limitations another government contractor.
  6. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,407   +314

    At home with 5-10 devices, it just doesn't matter much, but 10x (50+ systems) the 100Mbps sure helps with network tuning :)
  7. edanfalls

    edanfalls TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thank you both for your replies. Sorry for the delay, the move has been hectic so far :)
    I wasn't aware of Domain Controller servers. From reading into it, it appears that it will only authenticate Windows machines which could be a problem. Currently we are just configuring DHCP from the router, by saving settings for each computer name.

    When you say using 100Mbit client access, do you mean to actually use 100Mbit cards? Most of our machines already have 1Gbit cards, and manually setting the cards to operate at 100Mbit seems a bit... well, manual :)

    Thanks. I was originally looking at an unmanaged switch, but perhaps a managed switch would be a better solution. Presumably a managed switch will have firmware I can remotely access to manage each port? Further, if a port connected to a 1Gbit machine is set to 100Mbit, will the switch tell the machine that it is operating at 100Mbit, so that the client themselves can see that the connection is at 100Mbit?
  8. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,407   +314

    First, every admin has preferences and different choices and methods so suggestions will not always merge together well.

    Yes, many systems now have GB nics and if you have few client systems, heck, let'm rip.

    Managed switches are really nice, but you need to document every slot (or port) and what is attached to it
    (and that mapping is just good network management practice anyway).

    For a hands-off approach, just let the client NIC settings dominate.

    how do you manage static address? A DC system also has the DHCP&DNS services and gives more control from a single point.
    Either way, the DHCP Pool must exclude all static addresses used for servers.
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