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Basic networking question

I'm trying to determine what type of device I would use to connect a LAN to multiple paths in a WAN. There are three offices (all internally and separately networked), each with a coaxial linear-bus topology supporting Ethernet 10 Mbps traffic. Right now the branch offices stay in touch with each other by telephone and Federal Express, but they would like a WAN connection that is able to support about 256 Kbps of data and several analog telephone conversations between sites. As well, the WAN should be able to continue operating even if one of the WAN links fails.

I'm sure Cisco offers a product for this situation, but I'm not sure if it would be a Cisco phone and VPN switches, or if it would be just an access switch.


Re: Basic networking question

I'm not sure if Cisco makes anything these days that will directly terminate a coaxial linear-bus Ethernet topology (10Base2 or 10Base5). So first thing, you will need some kind of media converters to get the coax Ethernet connected to 10BaseT or 10/100BaseTX ports. Then, plug those media converters into a Cisco switch.

On the WAN side, you're looking at a router with an upgraded IOS (and corresponding flash memory and DRAM) to handle the IP Telephony/VoIP requirement. Depending on how you integrate the telephony systems and the PSTN, you could also be looking at voice modules that go into the router in addition to the data modules for the WAN.

For WAN circuits, either fractional T1 point-to-point links (two physical links at each site, each going to one of the other two remote sites), or a three-node Frame Relay network (one fractional or full T1 per site, with two permanent virtual circuits or PVCs, each of which connects to a remote site).

There are Cisco routers which incorporate switching modules, too, so that you can have an all-in-one box. Personally, I prefer the "separate components" approach. Multiple LAN interfaces are generally cheaper in a switch than on a router; let the router have a single 10BT or 10/100TX port, and handle the multiple LANs with a switch.

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