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Networking Assurance and Guidance really.

  1. Dec 30, 2006 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    An estate agency with five branches in the south west of England: Bath, Bristol, Cheltenham, Exeter, and Plymouth. Each branch has three dpeartments; the sales department, which may employ up to twelve people; the accounts department which may employ up to three people; the mortgages department which may also employ up to 3 people. Each branch occupies one building. As part of a general upgrade to the computing facilities, the estate agency requires that the computers for all employees in each branch be networked, and that all branches be networked.

    Report should consist of :

    Diagramatic description of the network
    List of configuration commands for the computer and network hardware

    *Both of these not important at the minute*

    3. The attempt at a solution

    Right i dont neccesarily want an answer here, i just want someone to say if im going along the right lines around here. Im thinking at the moment that the most appropriate solution to this answer would be to have a set of LAN's in each of the branches that the company has. Then using routers and hubs (or small switches) to help create a WAN, allowing connection between the branches themselves, and also using a leased line for added security for the WAN. The question doesn't say anything about the size of the company, nor the amount of money that the company wishes to spend so im assuming that a leased line would be alright? There was also the (more probable) possibility of using VPN but within the lectures, the lecturer had never even mention VPN so im assuming that he doesn't want us to look in to that as the course is for people who have never done anything within Networks before.

    Is that all sounding correct? Like i said i want to know if this is the right sort of network to be doing so that i can get on with writing the report.

    If you can give any advice, i'd be delighted.

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 30, 2006 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    I'm no expert in data networking, but it sounds fine so far. The only things I would add would address firewalls and the VPN issue. Where do you plan on putting your firewalls? You will want to give each employee open access to the Internet (so they can access the Physcs and Math Forums, among other useful Internet sites!), but how do you do that without opening up all the files on their computers to outside access? You have the right idea about using the leased lines for your WAN, but how does Internet access play in all of this? And how is your e-mail system going to be architected?

    On the VPN issue (and that relates to the firewall architecture, after all), VPNs are generally used on a limited basis, and are generally an expensive and labor-intensive add-on. You could just say that no VPN access will be set up for now, and that would be reasonable for many companies. However, if you are going to have a lot of telecommuters associated with the company, then the VPN access will become a necessity. From the short description of the company that you have given, you could argue that there will be no full-access telecommuting. However, the Sales Department would be one logical candidate for future VPN upgrades if you want to let the sales people telecommute from home a few days a week. At least here in Silicon Valley, telecomuting is a very common practice, and actually is a good way to recruit good people to your company. When you can offer a couple days a week of telecommuting as part of the hiring package for a strong technical prospect, that often helps to seal the deal. Commuting around here can be a real pain, unless you're on a sportbike like me! :biggrin:
  4. Dec 30, 2006 #3
    Cheers very much, another quick question, does anyone know where i can find an example of a network that is in standard cisco notation (diagrammatic). I cant remember what some of the hardware should be drawn like. And cant seem to find a decent example!
  5. Dec 30, 2006 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Cheers back. I did a quick search at wikipedia.org, and ended up at a good page about network diagrams, including a pointer to Cisco symbols part-way down the page. Hope it helps.


    Welcome to the PF, BTW.
  6. Dec 30, 2006 #5
    Would this theoretically work? (it's a drawing of what the network could look like - attatched) it's been done quickly and am not sure if it would work, or if anything is missing.. i have no doubt that something is missing.

    Attached Files:

  7. Dec 30, 2006 #6


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    Staff: Mentor

    Where are the firewalls located? How is connection to the Internet and outside e-mail accomplished? How are the connections between the central hub and the four field offices accomplished (like T1, etc.)?
  8. Dec 30, 2006 #7
    By far the internet only option is the simplest and cheapest.

    There are two reasons I can think of why this option might not be sufficient for a business.

    1. The business requires a security above VPN
    2. The Internet network reliability of the ISP is not high enough

    I suppose that for the given business both answers should be a negative but obviously the options should be presented to them. You could include network reliability and downtime information from the chosen ISP provider and information about VPN usages versus leased lines in this particular industry so that they can make an educated choice.

    Furthermore you would need to inquire about the expected level of network traffic to make a recommendation for the required network speed. I suppose that for this particular business the network traffic will be relatively light. For instance I would not expect this kind of business to use network hogging multi-media access.

    Internet option
    Each branch should at least have a firewalled and VPN enabled router to securely separate LAN and WAN communications.

    Leased line option
    Each branch needs a leased line to the location that hosts the server(s).
    Routers are not essential but switches should be the minimum. There are simply too many computers connected to warrant the usage of hubs. Assuming that the business uses the internet, and which business does not nowadays, you would need a gateway to the internet. There are two options, one is to install a router at the location that hosts the server(s) or you could install a router in each branch connecting directly to the internet.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2006
  9. Dec 31, 2006 #8
    Am I right in thinking that to connect to the internet it's possible to get a connection from the router at the central server to the ISP itself. And that the other branches can connect through to the internet from connecting to the router aswell? And that the firewall would be between the ISP and the server?

    That's horrible English and makes no sense :D
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