The purpose of this assignment is research and select switches for a network. Today’s managed switches offer many features and technologies for the network designer/engineer to consider.
The industry that sells networking products is very competitive. If one company develops a new technology/feature for their products, then other companies soon follow with their own spin on the same technology or feature. That is why it is important that there are standards and protocols developed by international bodies and organizations such as the IEEE, WiFi Alliance, EIA/TIA, etc. This (usually) ensures compatibility between the devices from different vendors and allows an “apples-to- apples” comparison when shopping for equipment.
However, most vendors will creatively and aggressively market their own proprietary enhancements, features, or protocols for their products. These proprietary features only work with other products from the same vendor.
Your company is planning to upgrade all of their access layer switches at their main office and their branch offices. The branches typically have older switches that were handed down from the main office or larger branches. A few branches have old switches with 10MBPS ports. There is also a mix of switches from different vendors because the branches contracted their networking functions out to local engineers.
The company has the goal of standardizing on one vendor for their access layer switches and their distribution layer switches. They also would like to standardize on the model(s) of the switches so that there are no more than two or three different models across the entire organization. This way, they can keep a backup switch on hand. If a switch fails, then functionality can be quickly restored with the backup, at least until a new switch can be purchased.
Currently, their access layer switches at the branch offices are Layer 2 devices. A router is used to provide routing between VLANs. The company does have Layer 3 switches at the distribution layer at the main office.
You have been tasked by the senior network engineer of your company to research the current offerings of switches available. You will then recommend a vendor and switch products.
The Main Office
The company has implemented VLANs at all of their locations. PCs, servers, printers, and wireless access points are the devices that may be connected to the switches. Each user/device requires one switch port on their VLAN. You should include a plan for possible future growth of approximately 40% over the next 5 years.
There is one main office. This office can be considered to be a large branch office design.
The main office network is split into 5 VLANs: Sales, Admin, Engineering/Service, Accounting, and the server farm, where most of the servers at the main office are located.
This is the breakdown of users and devices (servers/printers/access points) in each VLAN:
The Branch Offices
The branch office networks are also divided into VLANs with two VLANs at each location. They fall in the category of a small branch office.
• Research the switch product line(s)of at least three vendors
• Verify that the switches meet the following technical specifications:
o VLAN capable
o Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol capable
o 10/100/1000 speeds (copper)
o 10 gigabit uplink ports (copper or fiber) – at least two (for future growth)
o Etherchannel (or another vendor’s equivalent) for future link aggregation
o SNMP for management
o 802.1X capable (for future security plans)
o Required port density
• Remember that, all things being equal, a lower price is better!
Write a three-page (minimum length) paper that documents the following:
• The three vendors you compared
• The chosen vendor and switch model numbers
• All technical specifications were met
• Identification of features or capabilities of the chosen switches that differentiated these from the offerings of other vendors
• Justification of your selection
• Current price for the switches
Some switch manufacturers to consider:
• 3COM (now a part of HP)
The vendors have helpful features on their web pages to assist you. For instance, HP has a Switch Selector Tool.