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Token ring to Ethernet migration

Nov 18, 20023 mins

Nutter helps a reader who needs to migrate a LAN from token ring to Ethernet.

A bank for which I am contracting wants to change its LAN from token ring to Ethernet under Windows 2000. I assume it’s a whole new OS changeover/migration also. To accomplish this, all the network hardware has to be changed out – correct?

I already know that the cheapest way would be to just disable the token-ring NICs, possibly enable the onboard Ethernet – if the PCs have it – and stick an Ethernet card in the servers. I won’t really know exactly what they have until I get there, which makes things worse. As far as card drivers, Windows 2000 has most of those, right? If not, I could always create a package (Microsoft System Installer [MSI] ) and shoot it down to the workstations to load at start-up/reboot. Suggestions?

– Via the Internet

You are correct, all the hardware will have to be changed out (i.e., NICs, hubs, switches). With banks you have to think about taking a few extra steps since, as a general rule, they don’t deal with downtime very well. If the server also has onboard Ethernet in addition to the token-ring card, a possible solution is to bring the Ethernet card online in the server while migrating the clients to Ethernet, allowing the devices that are still token ring to communicate until they are converted. Although you have to do some additional planning in terms of use of IP subnets, this is an option worth looking at.

Depending on how the token-ring network was wired, you may not have to do any additional wiring. I ran across one installation several years ago that used an adapter to change the IBM Type 1 connector to an RJ-45. Although I have some concerns about this from an impedance issue, if the budget for this job is really tight, it may help get things up and running with a minimum of fuss. If you have the option of installing new cabling, I would recommend looking at Cat 6 instead of Cat 5. Although a little overkill for some situations, you have an option of taking workstations to gigabit copper if they fall within distance parameters, etc., in the future without having to do yet another recabling job.

As to downloading the new config to the workstations, that is possible, but I have had issues with disabled network cards in Windows 2000 workstations going active for no reason or inducing routing problems on a workstation because the self-assigned address (assuming the wiring to the previously disabled card was disconnected) managed to get listed as the default gateway for the workstation in question. While using an MSI file is an option, there may be enough variables in individual workstation configurations to make the task of removing one card and installing another one a safer one.