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Hardware Thread, Help me design our network in Technical; Hi All Rather than starting few new threads in different categories I have decided to include everything in one. If ...
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    Help me design our network

    Hi All

    Rather than starting few new threads in different categories I have decided to include everything in one. If this is not the right category, mods please move it to the right one.

    I have started working in a high school as ICT Administrator couple of months ago. We are located in Victoria, Australia. First of all, I would explain briefly what our network is like at the moment. We have two separate networks(two domains) for students and staff. They are not connected to each other and both of them are flat networks with unmanaged switches. We have four physical servers on the staff network and three on the student network based on Windows Server 2000 to 2008. There are 50 staff each with a school provided laptop or desktop. There are close to 300 students and about 250 devices which are a mixture of desktops, laptops and tablets. The client machines mainly have Windows xp or Windows 7 on them. At the moment our usage is pretty basic, both staff and students mainly use it for internet browsing and Office and some other applications.
    Now we are planning to implement few new technologies to improve the service and quality of education. The current infrastructure is definitely not suitable for things like BYOD and LMS which we want to implement. So we have decided to rebuild our network with new servers, switches and upgrade all the servers and clients to latest OS. As I am the one who is mainly responsible for this, I thought of asking other admins here and gain knowledge from their experience. I come here quite a bit whenever I need to do research on something or if I am stuck and I have almost always found a solution.
    Now I have done some research and planning so would like other’s views on these:

    2X Servers- Dell Poweredge Rack Servers R720/R720xd or equivalent
    Switches- ?
    SAN- ?
    Server OS- Windows Server 2012
    Client OS- Windows 8
    Exchange 2013
    SQL 2012
    Hypervisor- VMWare Vsphere Essentials Plus Kit
    Firewall/Filtering- Smoothwall/Sonicwall/endian/untangle/Bloxx (I am aware smoothwall is everyone’s favourite)
    Backup- Veeam/unitrends or something similar
    Classroom Management System- Lanschool/abtutor
    Antivirus- ?
    Office 365
    UC- Lync Server 2013
    I might have missed a few things here and there so please let me know about those. Also I am wondering if I can go somewhere to find some network diagrams and configurations which will make my job much easier. I would also like to know how many lans people recommend having and for what. I would like to use existing unmanaged switches for student computers as they will be phased out once BYOD is implemented.
    It would be great if someone can tell me how much they paid for these software and hardware so that I can get an idea. I am aware that the prices vary based on configuration and other factors. If someone else works in a similar size school, can you please tell me what you are using and would you be able to share your network topology.
    There are a lot of other questions I want to ask but do not want to make my post longer.

    Thanks in advance.





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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    That is quite a question and may benifit from being broken down into seporate specific questions with a link back to this one for an overview.

    The main thing you need to figure out is what you want to achive and where you want to go. If you are looking at Office365 and cloud stuff then you may not need the SAN/Exchange etc. It will be easier to work backwards from what you want to provide rather than forwards from the hardware/software.

    I would go with Server 2012 and personally I'd use Hyper-V for virtualisation unless you are looking at running linux stuff as VMs, it has a lot more features for free than VMWare.

    Network wise it depends again on your setup - spread out or compact - with buildings. I would still be looking at managed switches for the student areas as I would question the wisdom of full BYOD. You will also need decent managed wireless and a decent backbone for this to run on, the strength of a wireless network can be easily compromised by rubbish network backhaul.

    Windows 8 is good but quite a challange to manage at the moment so it may be better to use the fully patched and upgraded 7 then look at Blue(9) when it comes out. 8 is great for tablets and BYOD but central managment is just not catered for at the moment.

    You need to look at what services will be required and where they are required from. Something like papercut for print managment and submitting jobs from BYOD devices. Monitering and filtering of BYOD stuff with the content filter etc.

    For any future setup I would be looking at merging the two domains to cut down on waste and making sure that the underpinnings are quick and sturdy as whichever solution you go with this will help in the long run.

  3. Thanks to SYNACK from:

    san_narula (12th April 2013)

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    tom_newton's Avatar
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    Hi san - if you need to talk Smoothwall, get in touch with our Australian office (details here): https://www.smoothwall.net/contact-us/ and they will put them in touch with a local partner.

    Of course I will endeavour to answer any questions you have on here too.

    Tom

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    timbo343's Avatar
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    For classroom management i recommend impero, such a a great product

  6. 3 Thanks to timbo343:

    russdev (12th April 2013), san_narula (12th April 2013), synaesthesia (12th April 2013)

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    Millgate's Avatar
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    Grrrrrr......I want to open a Millgate office in Australia

    On a serious note though, we have specialists that you can speak to if needs be. It might be good to bounce ideas back and forth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Millgate View Post
    Grrrrrr......I want to open a Millgate office in Australia
    Give me a shout if you open an office in Oz

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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    That is quite a question and may benifit from being broken down into seporate specific questions with a link back to this one for an overview.
    Do you mean I start new threads in different forum and ask relevant questions there. If that is not against forum rules I might do that.

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    The main thing you need to figure out is what you want to achive and where you want to go. If you are looking at Office365 and cloud stuff then you may not need the SAN/Exchange etc. It will be easier to work backwards from what you want to provide rather than forwards from the hardware/software.
    That's exactly I am doing at the moment. The hardware/software I have mentioned is based on the fact that we will be running between 30-50 virtual servers once we finish the project. I will post more details about servers/services later in this thread. Regarding BYOD and eLearning I am not sure what path we will be following as we will be trialing couple of different ways before actually deciding. Before we do that we need to get our backend working. I didn't mention that we are located in country Victoria so the services overall are not very reliable here. That's why I want to setup Office 365 in hybrid mode with exchange. In regards to SAN I would like people's recommendations whether we should go with a SAN or something like VSA is a better solution for us. Please note all these virtual machines won't be running on these two physical servers. Some of them(backup, monitoring etc.) may be on another hardware which I haven't decided yet. I would like to use our existing hardware for not so critical tasks.

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    I would go with Server 2012 and personally I'd use Hyper-V for virtualisation unless you are looking at running linux stuff as VMs, it has a lot more features for free than VMWare.
    There won't be many linux machines. Just smoothwall and may be couple others. I have always used VMWare and can't fault it. I have tried hyper-v but it looks unfinished to me but that's just me. I will still consider hyper-v and compare the costs before making final decision. [/QUOTE]

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Network wise it depends again on your setup - spread out or compact - with buildings. I would still be looking at managed switches for the student areas as I would question the wisdom of full BYOD. You will also need decent managed wireless and a decent backbone for this to run on, the strength of a wireless network can be easily compromised by rubbish network backhaul.
    What do you mean by spread out or compact? We have four buildings, two of them are joined to each other, third one is not too far from the main one and fourth one is less than 100m from the main one and this one will need less than 10 ports. When I said unmanaged switches for student areas, I was talking about the existing computer rooms with desktops. I forgot to include wireless in my original post, I will fix that now. So I would also like to know what other people recommend in terms of wireless and what's their experience like. So any APs will definitely be connected to the managed switches thus BYOD will be on a separate VLAN.

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Windows 8 is good but quite a challange to manage at the moment so it may be better to use the fully patched and upgraded 7 then look at Blue(9) when it comes out. 8 is great for tablets and BYOD but central management is just not catered for at the moment.
    I am trialing W8 and my experience has been really good with it. Its so much faster and smoother than W7 or even xp. We own some tablets with windows 7 on them and no one wants to use them. I have installed W8 on some of them and everyone wants them now. Can you please explain what do you mean by W8 quite a challange to manage? I do not know much about Blue so will do some research on it as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    You need to look at what services will be required and where they are required from. Something like papercut for print managment and submitting jobs from BYOD devices. Monitering and filtering of BYOD stuff with the content filter etc.
    I also forgot to include this. We are trialing papercut atm and its working well so will buying it next week.

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    For any future setup I would be looking at merging the two domains to cut down on waste and making sure that the underpinnings are quick and sturdy as whichever solution you go with this will help in the long run.
    That's what I meant when I said rebuild our network. So new servers, new switches, re-cable core and distribution layers and leave most of access layer as it is.

    P.S- Can anyone please tell me if it is possible to edit my original post?
    Last edited by san_narula; 12th April 2013 at 02:15 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tom_newton View Post
    Hi san - if you need to talk Smoothwall, get in touch with our Australian office (details here): https://www.smoothwall.net/contact-us/ and they will put them in touch with a local partner.

    Of course I will endeavour to answer any questions you have on here too.

    Tom

    Thanks Tom

    Will I be able to buy your products through them or I have to contact a partner?

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    Quote Originally Posted by timbo343 View Post
    For classroom management i recommend impero, such a a great product
    Thanks timbo343
    I will put it on my list as well.

  12. Thanks to san_narula from:

    russdev (12th April 2013)

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    Quote Originally Posted by san_narula View Post
    Do you mean I start new threads in different forum and ask relevant questions there. If that is not against forum rules I might do that.
    Yes, once you have more specific questions about each area it may be good to split them up to get a more focused response on just that issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by san_narula View Post
    That's exactly I am doing at the moment. The hardware/software I have mentioned is based on the fact that we will be running between 30-50 virtual servers once we finish the project. I will post more details about servers/services later in this thread. Regarding BYOD and eLearning I am not sure what path we will be following as we will be trialing couple of different ways before actually deciding. Before we do that we need to get our backend working. I didn't mention that we are located in country Victoria so the services overall are not very reliable here. That's why I want to setup Office 365 in hybrid mode with exchange. In regards to SAN I would like people's recommendations whether we should go with a SAN or something like VSA is a better solution for us. Please note all these virtual machines won't be running on these two physical servers. Some of them(backup, monitoring etc.) may be on another hardware which I haven't decided yet. I would like to use our existing hardware for not so critical tasks.

    .
    Wow, that is a massive number of servers for that number of clients, must be an interesting set of software you run there. As to the SAN it depends on how heavy the software is and how many servers you intend to run if across, a SAN could be your best option, have not heard of a VSA?

    Quote Originally Posted by san_narula View Post

    There won't be many linux machines. Just smoothwall and may be couple others. I have always used VMWare and can't fault it. I have tried hyper-v but it looks unfinished to me but that's just me. I will still consider hyper-v and compare the costs before making final decision.

    What do you mean by spread out or compact? We have four buildings, two of them are joined to each other, third one is not too far from the main one and fourth one is less than 100m from the main one and this one will need less than 10 ports. When I said unmanaged switches for student areas, I was talking about the existing computer rooms with desktops. I forgot to include wireless in my original post, I will fix that now. So I would also like to know what other people recommend in terms of wireless and what's their experience like. So any APs will definitely be connected to the managed switches thus BYOD will be on a separate VLAN. .
    The compact thing was in regard to how difficult or easy it was to cable and mow any switching cabinets you needed, I don't think the PC is going away fully so I think there will always be a need for at least some. Besides you will want a bunch of network ports if you plan on reimaging PC/devices at any stage.

    I have used Ruckus and Aruba, both have worked well for me but there are other solutions which I have not used like Aerohive.
    Quote Originally Posted by san_narula View Post

    I am trialing W8 and my experience has been really good with it. Its so much faster and smoother than W7 or even xp. We own some tablets with windows 7 on them and no one wants to use them. I have installed W8 on some of them and everyone wants them now. Can you please explain what do you mean by W8 quite a challange to manage? I do not know much about Blue so will do some research on it as well.
    .
    Blue is just the next update to Windows 8, by difficult to manage I mean the start screen which you cannot easily arrange or manage the tiles on making a coherent expected start screen difficult which can be a real problem. I like W8 for speed etc but this is still a problem in a larger environment.
    Quote Originally Posted by san_narula View Post


    I also forgot to include this. We are trialing papercut atm and its working well so will buying it next week.



    That's what I meant when I said rebuild our network. So new servers, new switches, re-cable core and distribution layers and leave most of access layer as it is.

    P.S- Can anyone please tell me if it is possible to edit my original post?
    There may be an edit button at the bottom of the post but there is a timelimit on editing that may have elapsed.

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    russdev's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by timbo343 View Post
    For classroom management i recommend impero, such a a great product
    Thanks for the recommendation

    Russell

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    Quote Originally Posted by timbo343 View Post
    For classroom management i recommend impero, such a a great product
    I looked at some videos on their website and it sounds very interesting. One video compared Impero with 5-6 other products and their's came out best. They say it was recorded by one of the schools. Is it really that much better than other products?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Millgate View Post
    Grrrrrr......I want to open a Millgate office in Australia

    On a serious note though, we have specialists that you can speak to if needs be. It might be good to bounce ideas back and forth.
    It would be great if I can speak to a specialist. Would they be based in Australia or UK?

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    [QUOTE=SYNACK;954261]Yes, once you have more specific questions about each area it may be good to split them up to get a more focused response on just that issue.

    That's a good idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Wow, that is a massive number of servers for that number of clients, must be an interesting set of software you run there. As to the SAN it depends on how heavy the software is and how many servers you intend to run if across, a SAN could be your best option, have not heard of a VSA?
    Actually I am planning to install one service per server. To whomever I have spoken to has done it this way and it works very well for them. VSA is vSphere Storage Applicance. If you have 2 or more servers you can use it to share the storage between the two and it works like a SAN. It can also do server RAID to have redundancy so if one physical server goes down you can boot all the machines from it on second server.

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    The compact thing was in regard to how difficult or easy it was to cable and how many switching cabinets you needed, I don't think the PC is going away fully so I think there will always be a need for at least some. Besides you will want a bunch of network ports if you plan on reimaging PC/devices at any stage.
    I still have to find out how easy/hard it is going to cable, one building is 200 years old and is on the heritage list so I think it is not going to be easy there. I will get a cabler to find out. We have 6 switching cabinets atm and those should be enough for us. You are actually right, forgot that we will still be keeping 1-2 computer rooms as it is. Regarding reimaging laptops/tablets I will be doing that in my office so will keep enough free ports there or do you advise to put them somewhere else.

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    I have used Ruckus and Aruba, both have worked well for me but there are other solutions which I have not used like Aerohive.
    I have used only cisco, have heard about Ruckus and Aruba. I know someone who is using Meru and they say it is good. Others on my list are Cisco, Xirrus and Juniper. Never heard of Aerohive, will put it on the list. We already have some 10 Cisco APs so will they be compatible with another wireless controller?

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    Blue is just the next update to Windows 8, by difficult to manage I mean the start screen which you cannot easily arrange or manage the tiles on making a coherent expected start screen difficult which can be a real problem. I like W8 for speed etc but this is still a problem in a larger environment.
    I have been using W8 since launch on all 4 computers at home and have been very happy with it. My 7 years old laptop runs so much faster now which had xp before. Never had any issue with the start screen as I never have to go there. All my apps are pinned to the taskbar. Actually the computer I am typing is Windows 8 as well. Saw some Blue videos this afternoon. Its good to see that they are making some improvements to W8. I think I will install W8 in one classroom and see everyone's response is. Staff and student will take some time to get used to it so once Blue is out I will upgrade all the computers at that time.

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    There may be an edit button at the bottom of the post but there is a timelimit on editing that may have elapsed.
    That explains it, I wanted to add Wireless an few other things in there. I posted in a rush yesterday so missed few things.

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    Quote Originally Posted by san_narula View Post
    I looked at some videos on their website and it sounds very interesting. One video compared Impero with 5-6 other products and their's came out best. They say it was recorded by one of the schools. Is it really that much better than other products?
    Just to make a correction I think the video says we used a schools system to do the test not that the school recorded the test but would have to go and look at the video again to be sure... As so long ago I looked at that video.

    But in the words of Blues Traveler.. Maybe I'm Wrong...

    Russ

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