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At work, we have a network with about 20 computers on it. We're about to add another 20, so we need to invest in a second switch.

We have a file server on the network, and generally this is the only machine which I care about clients having a high-speed connection to. So, I'm thinking of configuring the second switch like this:

     ----SW1----Clients
    /     |
SMB-      |
    \     |
     ----SW2----Clients

The idea is, there are ~20 clients connected to each switch. The switches (assume both are Layer 2 Managed switches) are connected to each other, since I'm thinking of doing this in a single broadcast domain. The file server (denoted "SMB" in the illustration) is connected to BOTH switches, so as not to bottleneck traffic coming from either group of clients.

My question is simply, is this a reasonable way to do this? If not, how should this be done (keeping the goal of maintaining a fast connection to the file server in mind)?

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  • 4
    It really doesn't work like that. (switches that can do that [multi-chassis virtual port channels] a) are expensive, and b) have much more than 20 ports.)
    – Ricky
    Jan 9 '14 at 20:02
  • 1
    You're very right - it occurs to me that it would be cheaper to simply buy a 48-port managed switch than to try to find one that implements something like SMLT.
    – CmdrMoozy
    Jan 9 '14 at 20:14
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    if it is a Linux server consider a multi switch bond with balance-alb or active-backup algorithm. The premise that the network is a bottleneck is questionable, unless you have got some seriously good disks... particularly in a small office. This might be a better fit on Server Fault
    – This
    Jan 9 '14 at 20:36
  • Good point - balance-alb seems to exactly what I'd be interested in, and it "does not require any special network switch support" (from Wikipedia).
    – CmdrMoozy
    Jan 9 '14 at 23:10
  • If you're using enterprise-grade switches, this should not be a concern. Jan 15 '14 at 8:01
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You only need to keep in mind how clients are going to access the file server; I’m assuming this is done by direct IP. If that is the case, and your only real objective is to get clients to connect to the file server by it’s shortest path, then your easiest setup is to setup an IP address on each interface and point clients to their closest connection.

With this simple of a setup, I can’t imagine a scenario where your connection will be your bottleneck.

Have you done any benchmarks or taken any baselines on how that connection is currently used? Give that a go before you invest too much time into a solution that isn’t entirely necessary.

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  • Being a Samba server, it's generally accessed via its DNS name, rather than a direct IP address. Multiple-switch bonding seems like a great solution, but I'm realizing that the cost of it is pretty prohibitive. I think I'll just go with what you're suggesting instead.
    – CmdrMoozy
    Jan 9 '14 at 20:27

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