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Does my small network need multiple VLANs?

Does my small network need multiple VLANs?

I have a small network that consists of 12 servers and 50 or so workstations. The servers are on one VLAN and the workstations are on another. The infrastructure is all Cisco based and entirely switched. My question is, do I really need to have the VLANs setup or is it possible that the VLANs are actually degrading my network performance?
I am assuming following two facts to answer your question: first, that your users are moderately using the network and second, you have a fast Ethernet network operating at 100 Mbps.

If these assumptions are correct, then I don't see any need for separate VLANs. If all your users are in the same IP subnet, then having multiple VLANs can actually degrade your performance, since inter-VLAN routing will have to take place every time users try to access servers.

My suggestion would be to analyze the traffic on your network, and ensure that the broadcast is not very heavy. Also ensure that none of your network segments are currently congested. You can do this with any free packet capturing utility like Ethereal. If you have a Sniffer license, then that would also be a good option.

This was last published in November 2004

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