Need networking guidance.

Discussions around the setup, operation, replacement, and disposal of clerk computers, not to include using MLS
skiptaylor
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Need networking guidance.

Postby skiptaylor » Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:19 pm

I've never truly understood the difference between a router and a switch in an Ethernet network.

Now that confession is out, here's what I need guidance on.

The local FHC has the Cisco Pix firewall. I need to hook up more computers to it than it has RJ-45's. They used to have a 7-Port Broadband Router Plus Print Server. The print server is irrelevant as each computer has it's own printer.

Now to the real question. Would it be better to get another broadband router to hook up to the Cisco or would a broadband switch be better?

My confusion comes from knowing the Cisco is a firewall and router, and a good one. Why do we need a router past that? Wouldn't a switch be more efficient and less complicated?

Any guidance appreciated... yes, I read the Wikipedia pages on routers and switches and I'm really leaning toward using a switch.

What's your experience or thought on this?

Thanks!
Skip

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WelchTC
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Postby WelchTC » Tue Jul 17, 2007 6:52 am

avskip wrote:I've never truly understood the difference between a router and a switch in an Ethernet network.

A router acts like a funnel and filter. All traffic will go through the router and can be filtered, redirected, etc. For example, most routers have firewalls built in which will prohibit certain types of network requests. Many routers will also do what is called "Network Address Translation" or "NAT" which means that network traffic is translated from an external IP address to your internal IP address. Many routers have DHCP servers built in. All routers act as a "gateway" to other networks such as the Internet. A gateway is just like it sounds. It is a doorway that allows network traffic in or out.

Most home use routers also have a switch built into them. If you look at the back of your router, you will see some RJ45 connectors. This is your switch and allows you to plug computers into it. Because the switch is part of the router, it can then route network traffic to the router.

Switches are simply connectors. You use switches to hook computers and devices (like printers) together. Switches are typically "dumb" in that they don't do all of the fancy filtering and routing that a router does (although big switches have a lot of sophisticated capabilities). If I have two computers that I want to hook together, I could use a switch. There would be no configuration of the switch necessary. Simply plugging both computers into the switch would allow them to see each other. As you fill up a switch, you can get another switch, hook it to the first switch and then keep adding. All computers could still see each other even though they may be on different switches, as long as all the switches are connected.

Now to the real question. Would it be better to get another broadband router to hook up to the Cisco or would a broadband switch be better?
No, you just need another switch. Plug a cable from the back of the router (in one of the free RJ45 ports) to a switch. Then plug more devices into the new switch. Any new computers or devices you plug in to your new switch will still get routed through the Cisco router as they will be connected.

Tom

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thedqs
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Postby thedqs » Tue Jul 17, 2007 10:27 am

You might have to get a crossover cable for your switch though. Cross-over cables switch the TX and RX lines so that you can connect two devices together without going through a switch.

Most switches today have auto-detect on the cable and the switch will configure itself. Just if you get a really dumb switch you might need to get the cross-over.
- David

skiptaylor
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Postby skiptaylor » Tue Jul 17, 2007 2:34 pm

Ok. Thanks!

Skip

runstodboy-p40
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Pix user licenses

Postby runstodboy-p40 » Tue Jul 17, 2007 3:24 pm

One other thing you'll need to check on is how many computers the PIX is licenses to use. Some of the PIX's are only licensed for 5-10 computers. If you try adding more than that, you'll have connection problems. I'd call the CCN desk (Global Service Desk second level) and talk to them about getting an upgraded license. (I'm not sure what the policy is on that, but they can make sure you won't run into any problems adding additional computers).

Good luck...

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thedqs
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Postby thedqs » Tue Jul 17, 2007 7:31 pm

Are the PIX professional routers? I just am thinking that most people have wireless & 4-port routers and when you add the 2+ desktops 3 laptops 2 PDAs 1 Wireless enabled music player you get 8 wireless internet devices and then when friends come over with their devices I can see going over the 10+ limit and these are just home routers.
- David

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Postby russellhltn » Wed Jul 18, 2007 1:40 am

thedqs wrote:Are the PIX professional routers?



Cisco PIX 501

Keep in mind we're talking about a network in a FHC, not at home.

My understanding is the limit is not on the number of devices, but the number of devices seeking an Internet connection.

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thedqs
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Postby thedqs » Wed Jul 18, 2007 12:12 pm

Yea I know it is at the FHC but if home routers work better then the PIX ones then why not use them. I do know they have a functionality of hooking up to a giant VPN server which the home routers couldn't do.

And for the limiting to internet connections, most of the devicesI listed seek out an internet connection. Though I'd need to host more machines at my place to see how many can simultaneously connect to the internet through my DLink.
- David

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Postby russellhltn » Wed Jul 18, 2007 1:36 pm

thedqs wrote:Yea I know it is at the FHC but if home routers work better then the PIX ones then why not use them.


Church requirement.

The PIX is what does the filtering of the Internet connection. (through the VPN to church servers.) If you want to connect a home router behind the PIX, that's fine. But that doesn't get you past the licensing of the PIX. (or does it? Hmmmmm.) If you put the home router in front of the PIX, then you've defeated the filtering that is mandated by the church.

Also, I don't think the church as ever issued more then 2-3 machines to a FHC. That along with local unit admins are unlikely to get over 10 machines. If you've got more then 10, then there's been some donations somewhere along the line or someone has opened up the network to patrons.

skiptaylor
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Postby skiptaylor » Wed Jul 18, 2007 2:32 pm

thedqs wrote:Are the PIX professional routers? I just am thinking that most people have wireless & 4-port routers and when you add the 2+ desktops 3 laptops 2 PDAs 1 Wireless enabled music player you get 8 wireless internet devices and then when friends come over with their devices I can see going over the 10+ limit and these are just home routers.

No wireless in this FHC yet. Somewhere along the line there were mumblings of FM Group adding it in the future, but no dates on it yet.


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