Ask the Expert

Does using multiple switches (ordinary and non-configurable) in a LAN affect the performance of the

Does using multiple switches (ordinary and non-configurable) in a LAN affect the performance of the network?

    Requires Free Membership to View

There are several possible sources of performance degradation in a switched network. Let's consider the forms they can take:
  • Congestion
  • Media errors
  • Black holes/MTU conflicts
  • Duplex conflicts
  • Use of routing switches
  • Poor hardware/interfaces
  • Identifying the source of any of these problems within a switch fabric can be very difficult. Since switches are Layer 2, you can't rely on the various ICMP mechanisms (path MTU discovery, ping, traceroute) to provide feedback for troubleshooting. Most of these problems are not specific to switches - auto-negotiation of duplex will devastate performance but can easily be avoided by hard-setting ports. But when it happens (and it will happen) in a switched network, it is hard to resolve.

    So using switches in an appropriately designed network can be very effective. But anticipate that troubleshooting will be difficult and problems should be mitigated early by careful configuration and rigorous planning and network diagramming. Pay special attention to duplex (don't trust auto-negotiate) and MTU (don't assume defaults are sufficient). And of course, monitor performance end-to-end.

    This was first published in October 2003

    There are Comments. Add yours.

    TIP: Want to include a code block in your comment? Use <pre> or <code> tags around the desired text. Ex: <code>insert code</code>

    REGISTER or login:

    Forgot Password?
    By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy
    Sort by: OldestNewest

    Forgot Password?

    No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an email containing your password.

    Your password has been sent to: