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How do you do....it? Thread, Primary School Network - any suggestions of layout? in Technical; Hi, I'm new to the forum so hello everyone. I've recently started at a primary school as an IT tech ...
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    Primary School Network - any suggestions of layout?

    Hi,

    I'm new to the forum so hello everyone.

    I've recently started at a primary school as an IT tech with a relatively small network of 60 to 70 workstations running XP Pro and a single linux server serving the curriculum and acting as a DC, DHCP and file server.

    The machines are 7 years old now and not been cared for at all in over a year so apart from a multitude of problems I am trying to deal with in trying to 'keep them going' until a budgetary review (a longish way off) I want to redesign the network.


    I am (in the very near future) being giving an perfectly acceptable Dell PowerEdge machine with Server 2003 SP2 and my plan is to have this to host the network.

    I prefer MS Server 2003 because I want to implement Group policy, set up basic file shares (teacher / student), remotely deploy software , image pc's across the network, manage users and groups, etc all from a common interface. The current linux setup is dubious. Quite honestly each time I add a user account all the computers 'fall' off the domain and I have to manually rejoin them so I have a constant headache, haha.

    At present all computers technically need a reformat which I have to do 1 by 1 and obviously takes forever and a proverbial day.

    Any suggestions of a basic design in terms of layout? Is 1 server sufficient to do the above? Do I need a second machine set up for redundancy? I'll consider the structure of the AD at a later stage, at the moment I am just wanting to get an idea of a basic topology in terms of client /server numbers.

    Sorry if this is confusing folks. Will gladly clarify any missing details.

    Take care

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    jamesreedersmith's Avatar
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    The first question i have is what licenses do you have access to?

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    We will continue using XP pro for clients and Server 2003 SP2 for the server. Not ideal I know but this is all I have. This server was used in the admin network (thank goodness separate from the curriculum network) and is being replaced by an upgraded server running MS Server 2008 (pre-budgeted before my humble beginnings here).

    I am being given the old server with licensed server 2003 SP2 and will be obtaining valid CALS for the client machines at this stage since we can get them well priced from our local County Council. The only reason the server is being replaced is because they are upgrading ahead of time in order to maintain compatibility with SIMS software and chose to replace the whole machine (i'm happy since I gain something for the curriculum) so the 'old' server is quite well spec'd.

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    If i were you i'd look at using 2 pieces of physical hardware and running hyper v with virtual machines so you can move all the vm's from one machine to the other if you need to. A W2k3 enterprise licence entitles you to run 3or 4 vm's on a physical server so you can seperate out some of your roles if you need to.

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    By the sounds of it you need to start thinking long term as well - I know primarys arn't the most wealthy of things on the planet (we do work for a few) but with PCs that old there is going to come a point where replacement is required.

    I would say get everything on to one single network (no split between admin/curricular) - try to keep your new server as 'clean' as possible so only the server roles you need installed on it.

    Software lics should be a concern as pointed out already - I assume everything is OEM but what about things like Office and other bits of educational software - the most recent primary we took took control over had all manner of unlicenced software lying around on PCs.
    Don't just look to your LEA for pricing for software as well - many other companys (and I'm sure a few will pop up on this thread) can offer even better.

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    OK, thanks, I definitely intend to have the server running only its server roles. I have the same issue with all sorts of software unlicensed but I am sorting through this at the moment.

    They have OEM client software in terms of XP Pro, but however do have volume licensing for MS Office 2003 . These are the fundamentals at the moment. Unfortunately they want to maintain a separate network for office admin here and have a special arrangement with the County with 2 broadband connections so at present my work is primarily on the curriculum side of things. This was all done before my time so I'm letting sleeping dogs lie so to speak. When I manage a complete audit, I'll lay it out plainly I reckon, although as diplomatically as possible, lol.

    They will definitely need to replace pc and other hardware at some point, the backbone here is still 10/100 throughout the school. At least 'll be busy for a long time yet to come. Thanks for the advice folks, much appreciated.

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    If the networks are on the same cabling and just have different domains then I would seriously consider scrapping the Curric domain and using the new server that will probably only have a handful of users as the DC.

    There is no reason to have seperate domains for admin / curric you just need to have the correct security permissions in place most schools have been doing this for years now. I was reluctant to go down this path myself originally but have not seen problems on any of the school networks I've worked on that migrated to a single domain setup.

    I would use the old 2003 server as a member server with the curric users / curric software on it and the old linux box if its servicable used for something such as workstation images / wsus / print server etc but you would probably need another copy of server 2003 to put on it.

    Things I would check what ever you do: Working UPS on each server, backup solution in place (tested).

    We are still using XP but I'm very aware that its living on borrowed time so any work you do now reinstalling the workstation you will have to do again before they end support completly and stop releasing updates (April 2014 - I think!).

    EDIT - I posted before seeing your reply but I still think the way to make the best use of your limited hardware would be to join the domains.
    Last edited by ToyHeartsFan; 11th January 2012 at 04:13 PM. Reason: update

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    looks like a few issues there.

    ideally you want more than one server, you can take the old server and set up FOG to do your images over the network, ive set one up recently and its pretty simple to do.

    in an ideal world,

    3 servers minimum running hyper v, with virtual servers and machines/clients.

    from your description you are going to have one physical server that will need to be set up as a file server/exchange/domain controller/DNS/Firewall/print server (all of which normally are seperate servers)

    you also have no mention of a backup solution? ideally Disk 2 Disk then to Tape, something like a Quantum SuperLoader3...with another server.

    so

    5 servers

    1 DNS, DHCP, AD
    2 Print Server, File Server
    3 Exchange
    4 Backup Server
    5 Firewall/proxy

    you could technically share the file server role accross multiple servers aswell as the printing (RM do this)

    P.S

    Get Spiceworks on there, do a full inventory, map the network and see what you have to work with.

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    Great, thanks, this gives me a direction to go in. Funny enough I've just started looking into spiceworks. Previously no running backup at all, I've already taken 'adhoc' steps to sort this out at the moment, working on setting up a permanent strategy.

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    cpjitservices's Avatar
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    Save yourself some money going virtual use Linux KVM.

    Main Page - KVM

    For a primary school KVM would be perfect.

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    witch's Avatar
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    TBH whilst it would be nice to have all sorts of things, I work in a primary and we only have one server - 2003 and it does everything (although we don't have our own email and don't host the website). Our setup is similar in terms of numbers, although I have now migrated to Windows 7 and the server is coping nicely - policies are applied etc completely fine for what we want. We still have two networks, and I am happy to leave it that way for now because I am part-time and term-time only so I cannot support the admin machines the way I would like to. They get support 'instantly' from county.

    *edit...5 servers! Gosh!

  12. Thanks to witch from:

    SYSMAN_MK (12th January 2012)

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    Can’t help but think 3 Servers running HyperV in a primary environment is rather overkill, but that just me.

    Personally I have the following serving between 100 – 150 clients depending on the site.

    2 HP ML110 Servers each running W2K8 with Xeon CPU / 8GB RAM / 250GB Mirror for the OS + 2TB RAID for storage. With AD\DNS\DHCP\File Server\Print Server\IIS\WSUS\Sophos EM

    Only cost 1500 back in June.

    Then have an old machine setup as a file server to store backups withMS EES For licencing and Live@Edu for Email.

    If I were you I would go for W2K8 rather than W2K3 saves you having to upgrade at a later point when you have W7 clients.

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    Flakes's Avatar
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    yea mine probably is overkill for a primary, im just going off what i have here(big high school), and will be getting next year (3 servers with hyper v )

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    Primary here and the setup is as follows.

    150 client machines
    1 x HP DL380 G7 16GB RAM running s2k8r2 (DNS, AD, HYPER-V, File Storage)
    This server also runs a 2003 server which hosts CMIS
    1 x old XEON 4GB RAM Server running s2k3 (AD,DHCP, Printers, Print Management Software)
    1 x Acer Altos G330 MK2 4GB RAM (WSUS, Policy Central, Ghost, Sophos EM)
    1 x Acer Altos G330 MK2 4GB RAM setup as a freenas backup server and backups up from the HP DL380

    The plan eventually is to get another high spec HP DL380 and combine the 2 older Windows servers into that one with hyper-V

    We dont host our own email or website

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    We're a lower school, not gone primary yet. I'm supporting ~60 machines, half 7, half XP with both just one domain for admin and curriculum networks.

    I have...

    1 x PowerEdge SC1430 - Server 2k3r2 (DNS, DHCP, FS, DC)
    1.6GHz dual core Xeon, 2GB RAM, x2 160GB drives in RAID1

    1 x PowerEdge T110 II - Server 2k8r2 (Hyper-V)
    3.10GHz quad core Xeon, 16GB RAM, x2 250GB drives in RAID1

    Hyper-V has:
    Server 2k8r2 - ForeFront TMG
    Server 2k8r2 - Secondary DC, DNS, WSUS, RIS
    Ubuntu Server - Dansguardian+Squid, Intranet webserver
    Ubuntu server - Nagios for monitoring + other bits and bobs.

    Ideally I'd like to get our first server up to 2k8r2 and get some DFS going for user profiles and files. E-Mail and website is hosted off site.

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