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Hardware Thread, Network Upgrade Needed !!! in Technical; ...
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    Question Network Upgrade Needed !!!

    Hi All,

    Hope you are all well..

    I have just moved to a new school as Network Manager within a small secondary school (750 students including sixth Form). I have inherited a network which is about 6-7 years old. The network runs ok, but I want to consider upgrading the servers in preparation for Windows 7 clients. All clients (350 desktops) would need to be replaced or use RDP. No wireless yet!

    My Question is

    What would be your recommendation to SMT to moving forward. I would look at virtualising the servers, upgrading ISA to TMG, Upgrading Exchange to 2010. Would also like SCCM and Lync? Money is tight but would like best value not the cheapest.

    The current servers are as follows

    DCís
    Dell Poweredge 2500 2 x Intel Pentium III 993Mhz, 2Gb RAM
    Windows 2003 Std R2 Roles: DC, DHCP, DNS

    Dell Power 2800 2x Intel xeon 2.8GHz 4GB RAM
    Windows 2003 Std R2 Roles: DC,DNS, SIMS,FMS

    Dell poweredge 2900 2 x intel xeon 3.0GHz 4GB RAM
    Windows 2003 std R2
    File Server & Print server
    Roles all users home directories
    Space 1TB Raid

    Power edge 2800 xeon 2.8ghz3Gb RAM
    Windows 2003 std Application server
    WSUS, Sophos Console

    Proxy Server
    ISA 2004
    Not sure of spec itís an old cream RM server about 8years old

    Exchange
    Server P4 2.4 GHz 3GB
    HP Workstation xw5000 P4 2.4 GHz 3GB
    Running Windows 2003 std
    Microsoft Exchange 2003 with 1100 Mailboxes


    Thanks in Advance for the Information

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    cpjitservices's Avatar
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    First of all, I'd look at your switch gear and cabling and if it isn't already upgrade it all to gigabit and go from there.

    What switches are you using ?

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    smalls001 (13th April 2012)

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    Quote Originally Posted by cpjitservices View Post
    First of all, I'd look at your switch gear and cabling and if it isn't already upgrade it all to gigabit and go from there.

    What switches are you using ?
    I do agree with this - The network is the infrastructure for the servers.

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    smalls001 (13th April 2012)

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    The network is 1gb fibre between buildings with Allied Telesis AT-8350GB in each building giving desktops 100mb connections.

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    Quote Originally Posted by smalls001 View Post
    The network is 1gb fibre between buildings with Allied Telesis AT-8350GB in each building giving desktops 100mb connections.
    Check what fibre is actually installed though - you may find its 50/125 and can do 10GB but the gbic's at each end are only 1GB.

    Then take a look at some Decent quality switches for each Cab and something substantial at the core.

    Then get 2/3/4 Hosts with lots of Ram (rams cheap as nowadays) either with lots of local storage or Shared Storage or some description and slowly build virtual machines and migrate data etc to them. I would start with the DC's and Exchange server 2008 R2 Exchange 2010 (they look the oldest machines). Then the file servers.

    Are you using ISA as a firewall or just a proxy? I know you mention TMG but have you looked at alternatives? Smoothwall/Sonicwall? Reason I say is I would keep this physical if using a firewall so it can be between Router and network and the cost of hardware for ISA/TMG could be the same as a UTM machine from smoothwall/sonicwall etc

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    smalls001 (13th April 2012)

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    The main core switch is Allied Telesis AT-9816GB. What switches would you recommend?

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    Quote Originally Posted by glennda View Post
    Are you using ISA as a firewall or just a proxy? I know you mention TMG but have you looked at alternatives? Smoothwall/Sonicwall? Reason I say is I would keep this physical if using a firewall so it can be between Router and network and the cost of hardware for ISA/TMG could be the same as a UTM machine from smoothwall/sonicwall etc
    Yes we are using the ISA as a firewall, I was looking at TMG as you can licence it under the EES from Microsoft and would like staff to be able to work from home. I heard that smoothwall is a good alternative but never used it can it.

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    Personally I'm an HP Procurve Fan but this is where things get complicated.

    How many copper links will you require (to everything in server room) do you want to provide 10GB? Personally If I had the money I would put a 10GB card in each of the VM hosts so that each machine has a 10GB link to the core.

    How many cabs do you have which have fibre links back to the core? Again 10GB or 1gb? 10GB would be better for future proofing (not much point doing 1GB now unless money was real real tight as it will be outgrown to quickly)

    How much future expansion do you want? Then go from there. I have an HP 5406ZL chassis switch with 52 Fibre slots (40 Populated) and 92 copper slots at my core but that would be overkill for yourselves!

    HP now have the 3com ranges aswell and can do stackable switches which are likely to be more value for you but i've not used them.

    Then at the edge something like HP 2910-48G I use the 10/100 version of these and they are brilliant. (2610-48)

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    Quote Originally Posted by smalls001 View Post
    Yes we are using the ISA as a firewall, I was looking at TMG as you can licence it under the EES from Microsoft and would like staff to be able to work from home. I heard that smoothwall is a good alternative but never used it can it.
    Give the guys a call @tom_newton might be able to help, although TMG license is cheaper you need to factor into the equation the cost of the hardware as mentioned above. You can do VPN via the smoothwall which is easy to setup/configure. I've also heard good things about Sonicwall firewall wise but Smoothwall's filtering is more comprehensive and we went for the all in one firewall/filter.

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    tom_newton (13th April 2012)

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    The problem is the network hasn't had any money spent on it for 5 years or more. I have read reports from another network manager advising upgrades, but the same answer comes back we have no money. If they don't do the upgrade soon then then network will most likely be obsolete very soon. I would like to put a 2 year plan in place and the go ahead from SMT. I don't want them to say 'no money' as it needs it.

    Would the network switches stand that in place stand up to the server upgrade and upgrade the switches in 12months.

    Or

    Would I be better upgrading the instrusture first, and in 12months replacing server.

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    Its a hard one to call with regards to the switching vs servers.

    On one hand the servers you have are rather old in some cases and on the other you don't want them to turn around in a years time and say well it works now why do we need it!

    If you are going to replace servers now get a 10GBE PCI card and you can run them temporarily over 1GB copper (HP DL360 G7 have 4 1GB links as standard) so that when the switching gets done its one less cost to then have to go back and by 10GBE cards for the servers.

    Or buy the switching now and get enough 10GBE modules so that when the servers are done in 12 months you don't need to worry then.

    How much money do you think you could get? 5k? 10K? 20K? You could probably do a lot with 20k, splitting 10k on servers and 10k on switching.

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    If you can let us know the cost\budget that will be a start block...?

    Personally I would consentrate on getting the backend (Core\Edge Switching) to a standard, If you have a good budget I would recommend going with ProCurve stuff.

    Cisco just costs too much and your paying for the name (IMO)!.

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    Quote Originally Posted by glennda View Post
    How much money do you think you could get? 5k? 10K? 20K? You could probably do a lot with 20k, splitting 10k on servers and 10k on switching.
    I was hoping to get around 20k per year, but other problem is the client side are mostly 5+ old. If I was to do it all servers and switches.

    What servers would you use? You mention Hp DL360 G7's How many? and what would you virtualise?

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    Quote Originally Posted by smalls001 View Post
    The network is 1gb fibre between buildings with Allied Telesis AT-8350GB in each building giving desktops 100mb connections.
    Wow 8350GB's... we used to have those... used to have the "pleasure" of sitting next to them all day long... no wonder I used to get headaches! If they start packing up and you need spares let me know as we have some laying around along with GBICs, stack cables etc.

    I'd get some Procurves in there first of all, will be money well spent and much better management than the AT stuff then go virtual. Take a look at Office 365 for your Lync features, saves running all that on-premise and gets you up and running straight away

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    If you get 20k pa my advice would be put the exchange in the cloud live@edu/office365/google apps that will be one less hassle and resource hog to manage.

    Then 2 x DL360 (make sure you by the ones with 8 HDD slots) with Dual 6 core xeon 32GB ram and lots of HDD space then Virtualise the lot starting with the DC's to get them off the P3! You should be able to get some decent servers for about 7/8k

    I would go for G7's now not Gen8 as HP will be trying to get the stock out and you should be able to get a good deal.

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