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Do we need to upgrade to GB Ethernet?


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I took a job this past month as the "IT guy", so therefore I have inherited the problems with this network! What we have are 17 wall computers"ELO Entuitives" 2 servers and dozen or so workstations. The elos are for employees to access medical records and chart on patients. The database server, holds all of this data. All of these are hooked to 2x 48port 10/100 switches, with 4 gigabit ethernet ports on each. The only thing we have on the gigabit ports are the servers. We have experiencing slow load times on the client software that is ran from the ELO's, which pulls all the info from the db server.

My question is...will switching to all 1000 ports help us in this situation? Oh yeah, we also have 9 Cisco Wireless Access Points attached to these switches also. For a test, could I hook a couple of the elo's to the remaining gigabit ports to see if this will speed network load times up? Also, what is a good tool that I can measure how much network load is on our network.

thanks a bunch!

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My first suggestion is that you need to verify that your slowness issue is actually being caused by the network, and not by applications running either on the clients or the servers. Also, you want to make sure your Server OS can handle multicasting, which will help immensly, if for example, your servers are running Server 2003, which are unicast only.

Second, you need to verify that all of the interfaces (clients and servers) are all using gigabit NICs inside them.

And if you upgrade to gigabit, you are going to want to upgrade all your cabling to Category 6, as its likely you are still running Cat5 or Cat5e.

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For monitoring network load you can use Cacti:

http://www.cacti.net/index.php

What is the bandwidth of the connection between the two switches (just making sure it's gig or better)? Are you sure it's the network and not the DB or disk I/O issues? Are all clients experiencing this problem? Is it just certain times of the day (peak utilization times)? Any scheduled tasks running or hung during those times? Are the disks that the DB is on almost full?

On a different note:

You have a network with medical records and you've tied wireless to it...why? Do you have some form of IDS running?

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My first suggestion is that you need to verify that your slowness issue is actually being caused by the network, and not by applications running either on the clients or the servers. Also, you want to make sure your Server OS can handle multicasting, which will help immensly, if for example, your servers are running Server 2003, which are unicast only.

Agreed, measure first. See what is actually causing the problem. It might be a poor written SQL query (or whatever database that application uses), or application code, or whatever, as well. Poor written queries and code bring the fastest networks and servers to their knees, and are in 95% the actual cause of slowness and problems. At least from what I've seen in over 15 years of professional experience.

And if you upgrade to gigabit, you are going to want to upgrade all your cabling to Category 6, as its likely you are still running Cat5 or Cat5e.

Not needed if their network is Cat5e based, since Cat5e is fully certified for 1GB.

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The switches are linked together through their gigabit ports. We have wireless ap's setup for the nurses, so they can take their tablet pcs with them when they administer medications. Is the System Monitor a reliable way to check the load of the SQL server? I added a SQL server counter to it, and it stays pegged at 100. I guess I will just have to deal with it, I have no way to rewrite the database querys. The companies software we use sets the database up, and they will only have it run on SQL Server.

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