I would start over.
Ive recently started a new job and this school network is a mess. There was a phased change over from old equipment to all cisco equiptment. Every teacher insists that they need to use wifi (I hate it). Also every user in the domain logs in with the same username essentially making the domain completly pointless. There were no backups till i started some, No ups devices and only 15 static workstations in 1 ict room.
Im here to make a positive change to the school but its hard to know where to begin with the network infrastructure.
Nothing is documented and its a disaster. Whats the best way forward ? I think pretty much every laptop needs a rebuild, the domain server needs sorting out and loads of users need to be created.
Any advise appreciated
I would start over.
Thats the easy solution lol, Looking for a slightly more advanced solution. Do I just start with the blindingly obvious and work my way down a list ?
Would probably start with the users, security being quite high on the 'things to do' list for most establishments. (backup a close second which you have sorted)
If your in charge of IT then it should be used your way, wipe it all and start from fresh. Just try to get a lot of information about what software the staff are using where, and take down all details from the server before you begin.
you should document what's there first, network diagrams, the lot. then you can figure out what to change. I imagine you haven't got the budget to throw the whole lot away and start again.
As said its probably good to document, if not only for future reference but so that you can show what you have done.
Id probably start building a whole new domain in a test area (physically seperate network / virtual machines) and get that as ready as you possibly can before deplying it. Make sure wireless clients log on correctly and in a timely fashion, as much software as possible is packaged up and ready to go, new RIS/WDS images, etc etc and then flick the switch. Obviously you will need every laptop back in at some point to be imaged so discuss this with SMT as to how best to do this, lead them down a specific path of course, but try to make it asthough its their idea so that you get their support in getting the teachers to actually bring you the devices.
Of course this doesn't take into account your hardware, both PCs and infrastructure. Your audit will show anything obvious but until you get people using the domain properly you wont be able to get an accurate assesment of what needs changing.
What type of school is it? And I'd look at a managed wireless solution if they are so in love with wi-fi.
I would start with the switches/infrastructure first - work out the layout and make sure everything is ok, perhaps update to latest firmware. Then you can look at servers, doamin, active directory. Make sure hardware is ok before configuring otherwise you may have to do it all again.
A full system analysis taking into account the needs of the teaching and support staff, generate a working strategy using this information putting into this your professional guidance as to how the network needs to be setup (your the technical professional not the staff) liaise with the SLT and get their full backing and take it from there.
Maintain what is currently there and specify that the change management process will take a period of time but will be so much better and get them on your side by keeping the staff informed at regular intervals.
I feel your pain, although they were at least using individual user accounts here. You need a plan, and it will depend entirely on the scale of the network and the money available to you. Roughly document what is there now, and where you should be in say 5 years after implementing all your changes, then fill in the blanks with hardware, infrastructure and software purchases and a refresh plan that you can manage on whatever budget you have. You'll find that as you plan what you will be able to do, a logical order should emerge - i.e. sort the DC and AD, then backups, then the core, then the active networking, the cabling, and so on... Include a refresh plan to sustain your model, and outline the benfits to the staff and they should come round. Also outline the cost of a PC in each teaching room as compared to the refresh costs of all the laptops and wi-fi equipment over the next five years. That might change their minds!
Here, we've set up a second network just for 6th form so far. This will then expand to take over the whole school over the summer. Everything had to be broken down into managable chunks for budgetary limitations, and of course time restrictions.
Good luck - looks like you have your work cut out.
Fully back what Bossman has said ... but if there are things you *can't* maintain until you work out what the school needs, you need to make sure you don't spend so long sorting out those things, that you loose focus of the need to get the school running the way it needs.
If you had to fix a few things first then I'd look at the following and try to sort out a few priorities.
1 - backups ... look at what is essential data, required data and manageable data. Cut out software you have on CD, the pictures and music of staff, and archive old student / staff data at teh first chance you get (most schools will hold onto the data on the servers if there is space!)
2 - Reliability ... anything which improves reliability in the short term, allowing you to deal with problems (ie the sources of incidents and faults) and then planning for the future. Otherwise you will end up firefighting. This could be UPSen, rebuilding a seriously broken image, dropping unused software and even asking people not to use specific hardware for a short period of time.
3 - Core systems ... identify the core systems which keep the school running and prioritise (with agreement from SLT) how to support them.
4 - User guides ... anything which allows users to help themselves will increase your time to plan and work on things.
You should be prepared to have to work on improving things over a variety of timescales ... 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, 5 years, 7 years and 10 years ... YOu will not be able to 'future-proof' things, but you will be able to set it up with enough flexibility so that you can deal with change and having to adapt what you already have.
I was in a similar situation when I started nearly three years ago. Things were in such a mess that when I looked at the configuration I inherited I doubted my own abilities; even called the guy who taught me to go over things. Techs were just fire fighting and was a nightmare.
Work on each thing, know what you want to do and get it in place. Staff will start to appreciate what you are doing if they can see improvements and stability in the system, get there backing and your onto a winner, but your going to need the backing of SMT and a decent budget.
Best of luck
It would make a difference to my strategy: How big is this school (# of servers, workstations)?the domain server
As you have just started I think your in the best position to ask SMT and get a decent budget to get the ball rolling as you can say the network is a mess and certain areas need to be looked at as a PRIORITY. Emphasise this fact and ensure the SMT or your boss get on board quickly. If lots of people have complained to you about the network this provides extra ammunition for your case.
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