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Questionnaire for planning a new network

Posted on 2003-12-08
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A customer would like to have a new network (encorporating several remote locations) - likely to be Windows based. I would like to present them with a questionnaire in order to capture all the necessary info required to plan and deploy the new design; things like current organisation design, geographical infrastructure, customer objectives, goals, timelines etc... I am looking for ideas, articles or URLs which will help me create this questionnaire.

Many thanks for your help.
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Question by:omb
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by:ADSaunders
ID: 9895186
Hi omb,
www.asp.net

Regards .. Alan
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by:ADSaunders
ID: 9895188
Sorry, Wrong question ...
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by:qwaletee
ID: 9895326
QuickPost does it again!
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by:ShineOn
ID: 9896292
There are several basic templates for network planning that I can think of.  

My concern is that you have "likely to be Windows based."  

Why is it likely, if you are going to do due diligence before making a recommendation?  Or are you going to bias your due-diligence legwork based on a perceived likelihood of a Windows-based network?

There are SO many other ways to plan a network besides the Microsoft way.  When you are talking about a WAN, you have to look at desired LAN-to-LAN functionality - file sharing, printer sharing, WAN link bandwidth, other applications that will span the WAN, whether or not web services or other thin-client technology will be applied and/or leveraged, security, reliability, uptime needs, etc.

If you are still interested in what I have to say after reading what I have said so far, let me know and I will give you guidelines that are essentially generic, meaning they are not based on the way Microsoft does things but rather on the way networking works in a well-designed heterogeneous environment.  

If all you are interested in is the Microsoft way, then say so, and I will unsubscribe to this question and let you do your own thing your own way with no further comment from me.
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by:chicagoan
ID: 9896707
homework?
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by:brianrance
ID: 9899389
Mostly, plan for the following:

Number of Users (for licensing) win2k/2k3
Number of Devices (alternate licensing) win2k/2k3
Number of Workstations (for wiring/licensing) win2k/2k3
Number of Network Devices (Printers/Faxes) win2k/2k3
Type of Applications over network (eg do they use SQL server?  Does it need internet access?)
User density in physical workspace (to plan for network hardware, switches, cables, etc)

It is also very important to find out what applications they will be using on the server so the server can be properly built and configured for it (eg Web Servers dont need much actual harddrive space, but fast access times and good RAM are useful, while fileservers need bigger harddrives or RAID arrays and can have slower access times).
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by:ShineOn
ID: 9899750
That is so Redmondian, to assume all of that Windows licensing should be the main part of a plan when the question is about how to devise a questionnaire including high-level things like corporate structure, geographical layout, objectives & goals, timelines, etc.
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by:brianrance
ID: 9899973
Ya sorry, I kinda answered that in a hurry.  But, you have to admit, Windows Servers will pretty much cover any corporate structure and geographical layout issues that arise.  And what are the other options?  Just Linux/Unix pretty much right?  Dont get me wrong, I like Linux myself, I use it at home, but when it comes to corporate networks, Windows is just easier to get going.  And it's pretty scalable as well.

As for objectives and goals, and timelines, those are pretty straightforward questions that should be negotiated individually (pretty much just ask them what the timeline is for this project).
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by:brianrance
ID: 9899983
Append: Oh, but I do recommend Linux/Unix Fileservers.  More stable, good security features, and they are definately not too hard to get going.
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by:chicagoan
ID: 9900600
Just get you boss to learn Pine, tell him it's the best think since sliced bread.

do the name Netware ring a bell?
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by:qwaletee
ID: 9900665
Pine.  Youch.  Had an admin who insisted on reading his mail in it.
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by:ShineOn
ID: 9902524
Windows is easier to get going, but not cheaper to keep.  

In addition to NetWare, Macintosh, Linux and *nix (includes the various "flavors" like AIX and Solaris) there are mainframe systems based on the IBM OS/390 platform, and there are mid-size computers like the AS/400, which is a much more solid, stable and versatile server than Windows could ever hope to be.

It does NOT have to be a given that your network will all run on Windows.  Also, Windows in a WAN still sucks, even with the transitive-trust kludge on top of the old domain model they call Active Directory, because AD is not engineered for efficient use of WAN resources.  It's kinda like the Windows of directory services - rather than Windows making efficient use of the hardware, you are expected to beef up the hardware to meet the needs of the OS, and with AD, you are expected to beef up the bandwidth to meet the replication needs of the directory.
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by:omb
ID: 9903265
Wow, thanks for all the feedback.

The customer currently has a windows network with Exchange servers, windows clients, MS Office etc... hence, my initial comment about why I thought their new network might be windows based...

ShineOn, but as you rightly say, I would like to do due diligence before making a recommendation, hence, I am very interested in the generic guidelines that you mention. We often install Linux boxes for customer's of ours that are more open-minded and not totally Microsoft orientated - unfortunately, some customers want nothing but Microsoft (shows their nativity) and would not consider any other network proposal. Personally, I am a fan of have heterogenous networks... using the best of each product...

Anyway, back to a network questionnaire... any other comments on creating a high-level network analysis/needs doc would be very welcome - thanks
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ShineOn earned 25 total points
ID: 9903529
Overview of how to use a needs questionnaire, with guidelines on how questions should be worded for optimum results:
http://mime1.marc.gatech.edu/MM_Tools/NQ.html 
The same site has other needs analysis tools and helps
http://mime1.marc.gatech.edu/MM_Tools/analysis.html
A high-level of what a consulting firm does in doing a needs analysis:
http://www.wnycs.com/l1-ps/l2-consulting/sys-analysis.htm
Things to consider regarding security, to add to the needs analysis:
http://www.networkcomputing.com/1105/1105f23.html?ls=NCJS_1105rt

Essentially, you want to formulate a needs analysis based on what you have already mentioned.  Include current technology status as part of the questionnaire.  You need to know physical layout of the WAN, what WAN technologies are available at each location, what the departmental structure is, what the org chart looks like, what the data flow is (for example, for a manufacturer, the flow of an order from sales through design, manufacturing and delivery, with all the points between - this must be tailored for the industry your customer participates in.  Specific corporate goals, specific departmental goals, a cross-section of a user "wish list", all that kind of stuff.  

The physical aspects - type of infrastructure, cost concerns, risk tolerance, existing infrastructure, desired results, access types, access speeds required, number and type of printers needed or desired and volume of print per printer per functional area.  Data synchronization.  Data accessibility.  Backup requirements.  Disaster recovery issues.  Power protection.  Physical security and data security wants/needs/desires/concerns.  Legal issues - HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, data retention needs for IRS, for product liability, etc.

The list can get as long as you need it to.  To do due diligence you have to address everything you can possibly think of.  The first pass should be weeding out the stuff that you thought of that doesn't apply, and asking for input on additional topics of concern.  The second pass should be to determine how important each thing that still exists on your questionnaire is, to assign some type of weighting factor.  The third pass should be broken down by functional area, to cover the concerns of each department.  The fourth pass should be a consolidation of the results from the third pass, with only managers and executives reviewing and passing judgment on each item.

What you end up with after all of that is what you use to formulate your detailed proposal and executive summary.

Hope this helps.  Good luck.
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by:qwaletee
ID: 9917058
Although, in Windows "defense," you wll have to include retraining and migratuon costs as factors, which tend to favor upgrade versus migrate.  However, if, say, there are no internal IT staff, and the overall scope of the change is large enough that upgrdae is about as complicated as migration, then it will matter less or not at all.
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