Networking Case Study 1
A client of ours found itself in a very common state. Their networking infrastructure was insufficient and had become a hindrance to their daily operation. This case was particularly challenging because they had three separate facilities that needed to be networked together. Their current infrastructure consisted of two buildings with separate internet connects. Connectivity between buildings was non-existent.
The first order of business was to establish a network between the three buildings that allowed them to share one internet connection. Immediately, they would assume a cost savings because they would be able to drop one of their existing business DSL connections and save over a hundred dollars a month. Due to special considerations and distance between buildings, running CAT5 connections between the buildings was impossible. We designed a network consisting of wireless points attached to the outside of the buildings. The utilization of wireless deployment enabled us to connect all three buildings without disturbing the surroundings. Since the outside of the buildings was not sufficiently wired to power the wireless points, we installed 24 port PoE Switches to run the wireless points. These switches served a dual purpose of providing the power to the wireless points while also providing up to 24 ports per building to be used as a connection point for pieces of equipment. The 24 port switches also gave the company the ability to add additional pieces of equipment into the network at a future date with no upgrade cost. We took great care to ensure that the network was scalable to meet future needs.
Once the networking between the buildings was established, we placed all three buildings on a private network to secure it from outside intrusion. Encryption was enabled on all wireless points to ensure that no one could tap into their network without the appropriate security keys.
Once the networking infrastructure was established, we examined their business processes to see how we could best utilize the infrastructure to increase their efficiency. The first obvious flaw in their existing system was the absence of the ability to print to any printer on the network. They had two very sophisticated printers that were under-utilized. We setup each of these printers on their own print servers that allowed anyone in any building to print to them. Printing cost of maintaining personal printers for each user was eliminated.
The next flaw that we discovered was the absence of a backup solution. For this, we installed a file server on the network and setup the appropriate sharing and permissions that allowed each user to have access to a "Home" Folder that resided on the file server. Each user was able to utilize this space to save their documents and resources, and by doing so, they were able to access these resources from any computer on the network. In order to reduce costs, we elected a system of alternating USB Flash drives on the file server to serve as a backup solution. This increased their efficiency immediately. Not only were they able to better move and share resources, this solution also offered them the stability of having a backup separate from their workstations. For instance, when a year later one of the userís computer hard drive failed, they did not lose any documents because they were saved on the network. This user was also able to utilize another computer on the network for their work while we installed a new work station. Down-time was eliminated thanks to this feature.
Since we had developed the infrastructure and central file storage system for this client, they were also able to make use of network based software, such as SAGE, that enabled each user to work with the same data from any workstation. They no longer had to restrict certain processes to certain users and certain workstations.
To round out the installation, we built and installed three new workstations into their network for new users that were coming on-board. These workstations were able to be built for a lower cost than one can typically purchase from larger vendors.
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