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Small Branch Office - Windows 2003 Server Alternative?

Posted on 2004-09-08
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I am working with a medium size business that has 3 branch offices.  Only the main office has a Windows 2003 Server AD infrastructure.  The three branches are connected via point-to-point T1 circuits but they have no local server.  The circuits route Internet traffic to a single gateway at the main office and also to replicate a proprietary database application.  There are less than 10 workstations at each branch.

The branch offices have no backups, no domain security and no centralized storage.  DHCP is provided by a NETGear router and DNS is pointed to the ISP's public DNS servers.

Once I clean up the infrastructure mess, I'd like to put a Windows 2003 Server at each branch location.  As a cost effective alternative, are their any appliances that will perform that function?  I wasn't sure if I could find a NAS device that could plug into the existing AD platform, provide data storage with security and also handle DHCP.  I could always use a DHCP relay so that isn't the most important issue.  

Any suggestions on products that work well?

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Question by:fmdb
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Expert Comment

by:jayca
ID: 12012916
Save the hassle and keep it centralized.  With t1 connectivity for 10 ppl pe branch, keep it all at the main office.

For file share, look at an addon to Windows 2003 called Windows SharePoint Services.. it is a beautiful thing!

From the info you provided, I see no justification for adding remote servers, unless you like to travel :)
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Author Comment

by:fmdb
ID: 12012993
That's an option, for sure.

It appears that the T1 circuits are overkill.

I may explore obtaining a local DSL circuit at each location and then using internet security appliances to create site-to-site VPN's.  Would you still recommend centralizing the home directories if I'm pushing the tracffic over the VPN tunnels?  I'd be relieving the VPN tunnels of all internet traffic.

What do you think would be an accectable upload speed on sDSL circuits (ignoring the database replication requirements)?  384k?  768k?
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wparrott earned 50 total points
ID: 12013223
If you are considering DSL, place a NAS appliance at each branch office. Snap makes an 80 gig device for less than $600.00 and will easily house the user profiles for 10 users. This gives you a central point from which to pull your data for backups. The Snap boxes integrate with Windows 2003 AD to provide folder security. They are reliable, easy to setup, and can be managed when needed via web browser. They also support Veritas, CA, or Legatos backup software.

Hope this helps...
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