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  1. #1
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Hello my name is Susan.

    I work for a company which provides tourist services through a network of 5 outlets, each outlet employing around 80 employees. I haven’t been with the company long and have been temporary employed to run things while the director is on maternity leave. I can already see how poorly the network system runs, and sure, there must be a more efficient way of running things. I have put together a basic scenario of how things are running. If anyone can give me any tips or suggestions I would be so grateful. My aim is to propose some kind of solution to this problem.

    Here goes:

    The director has her own office and a secretary in an adjoining room. 5 other staff work on the floor below in a shared office with a guest room for visitors, there has been some suggestion of a possible wireless connection for visitors, but this has not been made possible yet.

    The web server was set up some years ago by an enthusiastic employee (no longer with the company) and for some bizarre reason, he located the server in the staff kitchen cupboard.

    Each outlet shares their buildings with other small voluntary businesses and all share the same computers at some point. Each outlet’s pc’s have access to the internet for email and the web, sharing 2 on site printers per outlet. Each employee has a private folder on their own pc for their own work as well as shared folders for group projects. Currently there are no connections between sites, other than the internet. Each outlet makes its own arrangements for their own shared area, in this case each outlet some have separate pc’s dedicated to the task. Printers are connected directly to the network at each outlet and are not accessible from off-site. All pc’s and printers etc have static private addresses. The internet router on each site provides NAT. Each site has its own internet service provider (ISP) selected by the local staff.

    I can sense that staff are uneasy with the situation at all outlets by the way the networks have evolved. So I have made notes of the following issues which have emerged in the odd conversations and so I have noted some issues from my findings.

    •The web server requires a secure location (out of the kitchen) and a decent internet connection of its own.
    •Currently whenever a pc is replaced, someone has to make up an IP address for it and hope that it’s not already in use. (Can that be managed automatically?)
    •Simple staff requests are – could the printers have names instead of IP addresses, so that new computers can be set up without having to remember the number?
    •Some staff would like to be able to work from home or whilst out on trips.
    •None of the 5 outlets data is confidential but there is a lot of confidential data on the network because of the co-locations. One option would be to completely separate the outlets network from the rest, but that would limit use of the shared printer and the shared folders. Is there a better alternative?
    •All the pc’s are currently interconnected using hubs. Last year one of them failed, apparently it was under someone’s desk and the leg of the chair ended up pressing down on it, this proved difficult to replace. What is the best way of linking all the pc’s together? Should I recommend a cheaper option or is there a significant realistic business and/or technical benefit of paying more?
    •A member of staff recently created some graphics then went on to email copies to everyone, the email used up all of the storage space on one of the shared folders and then the email stopped working after this. Can I make sure that staff can do their jobs efficiently without compromising the overall system?

    As you can see the current problems have stirred me up quite a bit and I would like to tackle some of them and recommend some possible changes before I leave and wondered what options I would have in attempting some of the situations, both for now and recommendations for future use or up-grades.
    I know this is a big ask, but if anyone has a spare possible few minutes to jot down a couple of ideas, I would be grateful. I know it would be impossible for someone on this site, to solve all of these and I will possibly need to consult a computer expert at some point, but I just want a general idea of how to go about this. I am far from being a tech person so I just need a few pointers in the right direction if possible.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read my lengthy problems.


  2. #2
    WS Lounge VIP
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Thanked 1,117 Times in 1,040 Posts
    Where to start? How about my assumptions from your post?

    1. You have only one server and that is a web server.
    2. Company data (shared) is located on a PC in each office which shares a folder.
    3. User data is local to the PC.
    4. There is no common data store for the company.
    5. All PCs have unlimited internet access.
    6. You have a domain registered that the web server is hosting.

    Some questions
    1. Do you have a mail server? Is it a separate machine?
    2. Do you have a backup of common data in the different offices?
    3. Do you have any network servers? What operating system?

    Some suggestions
    1. Pay someone to host the web server. This is cheap and secure and only requires you to upload the content. You do need to be able to change the DNS entry for your domain so people can find the new server.
    2. There must be a router for the internet connection. This should provide a DHCP server which will allow you to have all PCs obtain an address automatically. The printers should stay static but should be moved away from the addresses used by the PCs - there is not much we can do about printers unless you have a server to utilize.
    3. Move all company and user data to a common location and set up the share so only your people have access via their login accounts.
    4. Hubs / switches are cheap and cheerful and should be easy and quick to replace. Only the ISP router should be protected and placed away from prying eyes and wayward chairs. The router can be plugged into the switch along with all the PCs.
    5. Filling up mail storage is an old problem with no easy remedy. Maybe you could add a section to the web server to store shared graphics, but this is a security risk as the location is difficult to protect from hackers.

    cheers, Paul

  3. #3
    New Lounger
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
    My suggestion would be to look into Google Apps. I setup a non-profit on Google Apps and it doesn't cost anything. This will solve your email problems plus your document storage/access problem. Teaching people to use Google Apps would be your biggest job.

    If you have any "hubs" in your network, replace them immediately with "switches". Move the web to a hosted site, as Paul mentions. Implementing DHCP and sharing printers properly should allow people to access the printer by name.

    Good Luck

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