Need advice on my networking project - small scale intranet

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by patina, Apr 26, 2010.

  1. patina

    patina OT Supporter

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    I don't want to go into too many details because I don't want the project done for me - I just want some opinions on how you would set up this network.

    The scenario is that we are setting up a network for a very large and very successful car dealership that at the moment doesn't have any computers, zero.

    So we need a server probably running raid for backup safety, I'm thinking 15 or so workstations throughout the dealership. Some for offices and some for the service dept and parts dept. Along with an electronic key safe type system that keeps the keys secure and organized.

    As far as the physical hardware I'm guessing a router on the backbone and 10/1000 around the entire dealership? The budget is basically limitless so I could do fiber as well, I do want to stay away from wireless though because of security.

    So right now just as a rough draft Í'm looking at a server which has a decent amount of hd space running raid. A router and a switch running to the 15 workstations, I'm guessing 3 subnets based on sales/parts/service. Around 5 network printers and 5 personal printers, workstations and nics.

    Ideas? Advice? If you were going to build a fairly simple intranet network for a larger scale dealership where would you start?

    Just some hints and ideas would be great - I can research and expound upon them.
     
  2. thekraft

    thekraft New Member

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    Are the people from sales, parts and service ever going to trade information?
     
  3. dissonance

    dissonance reset OT Supporter

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    I'm assuming this is going to be hooked up to the internet as well? If so, get a good external firewall. I'd use the server to handle the network rather than a router.

    Get a managed switch, preferably just 1. It's easier to track down problems with a single switch than multiple. Gigabit ethernet should be more than sufficient.

    I'm assuming your going to put the RAID in the server and not use a SAN/DAS. Don't skimp on the discs or controller, dual controllers running RAID-6 groups with at least 1 hot spare. You don't want any downtime.

    Do they already have the software they are wanting to use picked out (as far as inventory, POS, finance, etc)? I'm guessing not based on what you said. I'd start by finding the software systems you need, then building the system around that. Remember to have it so future expansions don't require replacing all the equipment, just adding to it.


    But in all honesty, since you felt compelled to ask here, I'd recommend you get a consultant to help out. Also, is this dealership just 1 location or more? If they are very big and very successful, I imagine if it's just 1 location that'll eventually change....
     
  4. thekraft

    thekraft New Member

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    Why two controllers? Do they both manage the array, or is one redundant?
     
  5. dissonance

    dissonance reset OT Supporter

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    Depends on what he gets.... While true active/active controllers aren't necessary performance wise for what he's doing, the redundancy would be (in my opinion). For example, an IBM DS3300 (1Gbps iSCSI) dual controller module uses both controllers to increase performance but at the same time, if one controller fails the system is still fully functional and just doesn't perform quite as well. The dead controller can then be replaced and the system never needs to be shut down/rebooted. If he opts for a more enterprise solution such as using external storage (ie: DS3300), there is full redundancy from the host connections all the way down to the drive ports.... Or he could get a NAS (NetApp FAS2020c FC/1Gbps iSCSI) and hook the storage system up directly to the switch, but since most of the software systems are probably going to be database driven, a DAS/SAN would be the optimal choice.

    I can't imagine the dealership would be very happy with any downtime once they've been using the system for a bit and become compeletly reliant on it. I'd hate to see finance unable to complete a sale (and likely lose it altogether) because their system was down, or parts not knowing what they have or when an order is supposed to arrive, or service knowing what they were supposed to fix on the car waiting outside, etc, etc.....

    Now if he didn't say this was a "very large and very successful car dealership" but some small shady used lot that didn't have a service/parts center, I'd say a simple simplex RAID within a server would be sufficient. They would be inconvienced by downtime but it wouldn't be much more than that.
     
  6. ldaggerl

    ldaggerl New Member

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    Honestly for 15 workstations and a server I wouldn't go to over board with it. I'd try to keep things as simple as possible. With 15 work stations I'd get a simple 24 port switch, a dedicated server with a good raid system. Your going to be using a domain so you can easily with group policies set all documents from my documents and such to go straight to the server and back those up as people really are stupid and save important information to the local computer most of the time. I'd try and not over complicate a system unless you need it to be. Backing up would be the only thing I'd ever go overboard with.
     
  7. thekraft

    thekraft New Member

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    I like the idea of having dual RAID controllers, but is it possible to get them to play nice with one array without resorting to enterprise storage solution like the DS3300? Also, since you've brought it up, if a RAID controller dies, is your RAID array essentially kaput? I've heard that most controllers aren't compatible with arrays built from another controller.
     
  8. thekraft

    thekraft New Member

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    .

    But it's pretty cool listening to what some people would suggest. I have zero experience working with IT in a corporate setting.
     
  9. dissonance

    dissonance reset OT Supporter

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    I don't really deal with servers at work, but it's my understanding that some are able to have redundant controllers. They don't operate in the same manner but can offer the security.

    As for a controller dying, it depends on your controller. Some must be replaced with an identical one while others can rebuilt with other controllers from the same manufacturer (I don't know of any that can rebuild from a different manufacturer).
     
  10. thekraft

    thekraft New Member

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    Huh, I should look into that. I never thought of the controllers as another point of failure, but that's exactly what they are. I'd like to hope that their rate of failure is a lot lower than hard drive failure.
     
  11. P-chan

    P-chan New Member

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    Is this a hypothetical project for like a networking class or something, or are you actually going to build this thing? that's a valid concern :o

    I'm asking because I'm doing my Master's in Networking right now and I've done papers like this. :)
     
  12. dissonance

    dissonance reset OT Supporter

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    :doh:

    been out of school too long, "project" didn't click in my head as a school project.....

    And so you know, products in that price range are rarely sold with more than 12 drives.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2010
  13. 5Gen_Prelude

    5Gen_Prelude There might not be an "I" in the word "Team", but

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    I wouldn't split the network up - 1 subnet for all.
     
  14. P-chan

    P-chan New Member

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    Nobody has asked (other than thekraft sort of asked) WHAT the departments are going to be doing on these machines. You said the delaership has no computers, zero. This means they are completely starting from scratch with regard to training also. Training your users should be a pretty integral part to the network rollout plan. Simple stuff like strong password policies and how to use email effectively, not click on attachments, how to use outlook, etc.)

    What will they be storing on the "decent amount of HD space"? Clearly it's something that they're doing on paper currently. Will they need some sort of scanner to get documents into the new system?

    15 computers, with 5 network printers and 5 personal printers? So you're going to have one network printer for every two machines, and the other 5 will have a dedicated printer? it's hard to make recommendations without knowing a little about the business.

    Are they going to want exchange hosted in house? Do they need any other servers hosted besides AD/DNS? Are they implementing a database for parts or service at the same time as this network rollout?

    If I were doing this job, it would begin with at least a couple days spent talking with the employees and management of the dealership, and just hanging out seeing how people do their jobs. You can't just start implementing technology and think it will make things better. You have to figure out where technology needs to be implemented.

    I've been in offices where they have computers that get touched once a week, to run a report, because that particular machine has the only copy of a licensed application that they use to run the report. This machine runs a screensaver 167 hours and 55 minutes a week. On fridays at 3pm, someone comes over, jiggles the mouse, and clicks the "print report" button on the machine that spits out a report to a local printer. What the hell is the point of that? Nobody investigated what it would take to migrate the license for the reporting software. What did it take? A 5 minute phone call to the software company.

    Anyway, my point is, sure you can toss a 24port switch, a server, some HDDs, and 15 whiteboxes into the dealership and set them all up, but what will they be USED for? This is really a critical part of network design. If the sales staff is just going to be looking up invoices and occasionally checking their email, one or two machines for the sales staff to share is plenty. You may have taken that into account already with the 15 workstation number. Throwing money at the problem is mindless, my 8 year old daughter could design that network - "buy everyone a computer and printer and hook em together" :x:
     
  15. P-chan

    P-chan New Member

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    Another concern is, are they hiring an IT person, or is someone in the dealership going to pick up this responsibility once the system is implemented?
     
  16. patina

    patina OT Supporter

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    Okay like I said I didn't want to go into too many details because I didn't want it to be done for me so to say but the amount of information you guys are giving me is great. Here are the details of the project, this is for a college course - not an actual project.

    You have inherited a very lucrative Cadillac Automobile Dealership with three locations within 50 miles. You are excited because your family has always done so well in the car business and you can’t wait to show off your new education. Unfortunately, Cadillac has decided to revoke
    your franchise because your dealership is the only one in the south that doesn’t use any type of computers. They have decided to give you a chance to rectify the situation. Realizing that if you lose the franchise you will basically be out of business, you have decided to
    create a top of the line network. With an almost unlimited budget you set out to create the network. Remember, each dollar spent on the network must be justified because it is one less dollar you get to keep. You have to convince the rest of the family (audience) that going to a modern dealership might even increase your sales. You have projected a 20%-35% percent increase in sales by implementing your network. Currently you are selling 30-35 cars a month and making about $4000.00 off each car.

    Create a budget for the initial implementation of you network.
     Create a budget for your yearly maintenance and connection costs.
     Create a budget for your new IT staff.
     Create a budget for licensing of your software. Don’t forget security applications like virus, Spyware and firewall protection.

    Network Creation
    What workstations, routers, switches, firewalls, gateways, servers, etc … will you be using? Be specific. Remember to make sure your network maintains the integrity and reliability of your company. Spec out your main server(s)? Does it have a RAID configuration? If so, how much did
    it cost? Why did you choose the RAID level you did? What operating systems will you be using and why? What software will you be using and why? What about email? What about a website? Who will create it?
     
  17. patina

    patina OT Supporter

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    and "doh" at me for just realizing there were 3 locations.
     
  18. FormulaLS1

    FormulaLS1 Member

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    In the real world it looks like you want to build a complex network for something very simple...job security lol.

    Anyways I have a few thoughts

    1. Figure out how data is shared between departments and between locations.

    2. Centralized or decentralized servers

    based on those two things you should decide what kind of WAN topology you need to build and go from there bandwidth etc.

    You could get away with something simple like cable modems and VPN routers or something like metro ethernet for more bandwidth.

    Edit: I love how they say spec out a main server and don't list how much data and what exactly its used for.
     

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