Connect Multiple Servers to Multiple PCs

May 11, 2009 at 07:55:35
Specs: Windows XP Pro SP2, various
I am trying to figure out the most efficient way
to network 3 servers to multiple PCs. Here is
the hardware I am working with:

Servers:
1 Dell PowerEdge 2900 server (2 port network
adapter)
1 Email Server (1 port network adapter)
1 Data Server (1 port network adapter)

Switches/Routers:
2 Linksys 2024 switches
1 NetGear Router (firewall)
1 Cable Modem

PCs:
~20 PCs all running Windows XP

Currently, the switches are daisy-chained
together, and I was considering some sort of
network segmentation to increase
performance. Any thoughts?


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#1
May 11, 2009 at 08:46:40
I didn't check the spec's on the switches you mentioned. If they are managed switches and VLAN capable, then you could segment using VLAN's. If not, then you have to segment using subnetting alone. In either case, you will require a router (or routers) to route between subnets/VLAN's.

If you're going to segment, in a situation like this I'd recommend putting your servers in one subnet accessible from all other subnets (if you want them available to all PC's in your LAN that is)

If you have managed, VLAN capable switches, I'd recommend you keep VLAN 1 (the default management VLAN) for network appliances only (ie: switches, routers etc) and then maybe make VLAN 2 your "server VLAN" and VLAN 3 could be your "printer VLAN" and VLAN's 4 and 5 and 6 and so on, your "PC VLAN's"


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#2
May 11, 2009 at 08:57:43
20 pcs with 3 servers segmented?

Don't waste your time. You will accomplish nothing since that is way too small about of pcs to even consider segmenting.

Might want to review the reasons why you segment a network.

A 24 port managed switch is just fine. Never get an unmanaged switch unless you like to be blind to what is happening on the network wire.

if you are expecting growth consider a 48 port managed switch and have all wiring home run to the server room.


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#3
May 11, 2009 at 09:21:25
Thanks for the tips. I had thought of setting up VLANs, but
like Wanderer suggested, I wasn't sure whether it would help
performance. (My switches are semi-managed--I can set up
VLANs and other basic configs).

We had thought of segmentation to increase performance.
We are running some pretty resource-intensive programs off
the server, and they are a little slow on some PCs. We're
trying to figure out why.

So, you don't think we'll see a performance increase by
segmenting?

We are going to take a look at the cabling, too. Everything
but the router is 1Gbps, but we have a hodge-podge of Cat 5
and Cat 5e. Any thoughts there?

The router is 100Mbps. Could it be slowing things down?

Thanks again,
Ben



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Related Solutions

#4
May 11, 2009 at 09:52:03
router won't have any effect though cabling will. How much memory/OS on the workstations with performance issues? What apps?

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#5
May 11, 2009 at 09:56:54
We are running some pretty resource-intensive programs off the server, and they are a little slow on some PCs. We're
trying to figure out why.

If the slowness were due to network congestion, all users on that switch would be affected. Since your switches are daisy chained, all users would be affected. So, if the slowness is only on a couple of PC's, I would be looking at those PC's and not the network for the cause of the issue.

So, you don't think we'll see a performance increase by
segmenting?

As per my above statement, in this case, not likely. Your environment is a little on the small side. If your switches are all 100 Mbps or faster, then you wouldn't likely see an improvement in overall performance.

We are going to take a look at the cabling, too. Everything but the router is 1Gbps, but we have a hodge-podge of Cat 5 and Cat 5e. Any thoughts there?

Cat 5e is 1000 Mbps capable. Cat 5 may not be depending on the wire manufacturer. The only thing you could do to be sure is test all Cat 5 cables and see if they are, or are not 1000 Mbps capable. If you find some that aren't, replace them with Cat 5e or Cat 6.

Replace the 100 Mbps router with something that's also 1000 Mbps capable and ensure all clients computers are also 1000 Mbps capable. With your entire network running at 1000 Mbps, you'll find performance greatly increased over 100 Mbps. At this moment in time, you're limited to 100 Mbps and any/all traffic flowing through the router is slowed down to that rate. If it's a case of one PC talking to another and they're plugged into the switch, then they will communicate at 1000 Mbps. But any time data has to flow across that 100 Mbps router, then that conversation is down to 100 Mbps.

Remember, bandwidth is not a measure of speed like Mph or Kmph but is a measure of how much data can flow past any single point in the network in one second.


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#6
May 11, 2009 at 10:22:49
"We are running some pretty resource-intensive programs off
the server, and they are a little slow on some PCs"

CurtR the router has no effect on server to pc communication which is what the forementioned performance issue is about.


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#7
May 11, 2009 at 11:09:15
Wow, good discussion going here. Thanks again.

1. As Wanderer mentioned, the router is essentially just a firewall between our LAN and the Internet. I assumed that it
would not slow down the network, but I wanted to make sure. So, if the rest of the network is 1Gbps compatible, it won't
slow down because of the router being only 100Mbps, correct?

2. We are probably going to upgrade our cabling, replacing any older, questionable cables with either Cat 5e or Cat 6. Any
major difference between Cat 5e and Cat 6?

3. Workstations are another hodge-podge scenario. We recently upgraded all to have at lease 1GB of Memory. The
machine I am on is an Acer, Pentium Dual Core 2.5 GHz w/ 1 GB of Memory. It came with on-board 1Gbps network
adapter, but we put a Linksys NIC in it, which seemed to help some (I had heard that these Acers put cheap on-board
network adapters). Would more RAM help here?

4. The apps we're running are accounting, tax, and a paperless imaging software (Creative Solutions UltraTax, Accounting,
FileCabinet, etc. by Thomson Reuters). They run moderately well, but they are noticeably slower on some machines, even
mine (mentioned above).

Ben



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#8
May 11, 2009 at 11:10:15
Also, all PCs are running Windows XP

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