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  • Network Expanding

    I'm a networking noob, and I hope this isn't crossing into RTFM territory. . .

    I work for a mom n pop small business. Our network is small and easy to manage. Two servers, a firewall, 20 workstations, VoIP phone system, videoconferencing system over IP, 1 NAS box for file storage.

    We bought another company and I'm getting one more server, another videoconferencing system, and 5 more workstations.

    Currently, my firewall, phone system and both servers are in a dark, hot, dusty, non-climate controlled 2 x 4 room, shared with the pop machine. I can't fit any more machines in there, and I'm really concerned about the dust and heat.

    The suggestion has been made to move everything but the phone boxes into my office, which has isolated climate control (I can just keep the door closed).

    Since I'm going to be moving stuff around, I have 2 questions:

    1. Is there any advantage to getting routers and creating 4 subnets (servers, workstations, phones, videoconferencing) or is the network not big enough for it to matter?

    2. Right now, my servers are using a 5-port Linksys workgroup switch to connect to the T1 router. The switch was here when I got here, but it seems to me like my entire network is riding on the back of a $24 piece of equipment and that makes me nervous. Should I have something beefier?

    Any and all suggestions are welcome and appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Re: Network Expanding

    Originally posted by toggle View Post
    1. Is there any advantage to getting routers and creating 4 subnets (servers, workstations, phones, videoconferencing) or is the network not big enough for it to matter?
    Putting servers and workstations on different subnets may well be more of a hassle than it's worth. If you're worried about running out of IP addresses, you can change your scope to one with a bigger pool. What do you hope to gain by doing this?

    If you must separate things out, I'd suggest putting the phone system into its own VLAN.

    Originally posted by toggle View Post
    2. Right now, my servers are using a 5-port Linksys workgroup switch to connect to the T1 router. The switch was here when I got here, but it seems to me like my entire network is riding on the back of a $24 piece of equipment and that makes me nervous. Should I have something beefier?
    That would be a good idea - strictly speaking there's nothing wrong with using that switch, I have never considered Linksys to be trustworthy for a start, and when there's that many servers and clients a proper backbone switch will likely make a noticable difference. With the advantage that opting for a managed switch gives you QoS control.
    Gareth Howells

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    • #3
      Re: Network Expanding

      Thank you for your reply.

      1. I wasn't sure what I was hoping to gain. I've got plenty of IP addresses for now. Primarily, I was concerned about the videoconferencing and phone system "bogging down" the rest of the network. I think I'll wait on that project until I feel there's a real need. The VLAN, I'll need to study up on some more - I'm not sure I understand those to the level that I would feel comfortable setting one up.

      2. Thanks, I feel validated. I'll look at a managed switch for the backbone.

      Much appreciated.

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      • #4
        Re: Network Expanding

        Originally posted by toggle View Post
        I work for a mom n pop small business. Our network is small and easy to manage. Two servers, a firewall, 20 workstations, VoIP phone system, videoconferencing system over IP, 1 NAS box for file storage.
        You're swiftly moving away from "Mom 'n' Pop" status with a network like that... in fact, you may have transcended that status already.


        Originally posted by toggle View Post
        We bought another company and I'm getting one more server, another videoconferencing system, and 5 more workstations.
        Yep, I think you've definitely moved away from "Mom 'n' Pop" status. When someone says M 'n' P I think of an old 286 running Quatro Pro 3 on GEOS with a dot matrix printer connected via a parallel cable. Liberal amounts of duct tape and Krazy Glue are also a part of the equation.


        Originally posted by toggle View Post
        The suggestion has been made to move everything but the phone boxes into my office, which has isolated climate control (I can just keep the door closed).
        Anything is better than what you're currently running. Can you handle the noise level though? That might be an OSHA violation. The drone of servers and other datacenter kit can get on your nerves after a while.


        Originally posted by toggle View Post
        1. Is there any advantage to getting routers and creating 4 subnets (servers, workstations, phones, videoconferencing) or is the network not big enough for it to matter?
        I'll add a "me too!" to what gforce said. It'll be more of a pain than you need at the moment.


        Originally posted by toggle View Post
        2. Right now, my servers are using a 5-port Linksys workgroup switch to connect to the T1 router. The switch was here when I got here, but it seems to me like my entire network is riding on the back of a $24 piece of equipment and that makes me nervous. Should I have something beefier?
        I'd look into better managed switches for QoS, monitoring and a host of other reasons. I can personally recommend HP ProCurve switches. I use a Procurve 2610-24 for a smaller office than what you have and it's great. Both a CLI and web based interface with alot of amazing features. All for only about $400-$500 USD. ProCurve offers free technical support for the life of the product and a lifetime (yes, lifetime) parts warranty.
        Last edited by Nonapeptide; 18th February 2009, 19:23.
        Wesley David
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        • #5
          Re: Network Expanding

          Gotta agree w/ Nonapeptide on all counts. If you've bought out another company and are concerned about noise / heat / QoS, you're in the medium leagues now

          You may want to work on network bandwidth monitoring to see if QoS is even required. Having a backup switch / router isn't a bad idea.
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          • #6
            Re: Network Expanding

            Yeah, I've been thinking I was maybe moving out of the pee-wee leagues. . .

            When someone says M 'n' P I think of an old 286 running Quatro Pro 3 on GEOS with a dot matrix printer connected via a parallel cable. Liberal amounts of duct tape and Krazy Glue are also a part of the equation.
            Rewind 5 years back to when when I was hired, and that is pretty accurate . . . the guy who did this stuff before I was "promoted" went sort of nuts one year and bought a bunch of stuff he didn't know what to do with.

            My office is on the Production floor, which is a noisy place. It would take a lot of servers to drown out the noise out there.

            Great information, thank you everyone. Looks like I should probably go get myself formally educated in networking after all. Back when our network consisted of an ancient NT 4.0 system and 3 workstations, it didn't seem necessary. . .

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