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Network Overhaul

Posted on 2007-03-23
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Last Modified: 2010-04-20
Hi experts.

I will soon have the opportunity to completely overhaul our biggest customer’s network and I was looking for some general advice and pointers. The network will be Microsoft based (Win 2003 Server, Exchange, ISA etc) No decisions have been made on the number or spec of servers yet. The network will consist of 400 Windows XP PCs with 1600 users in a school environment. All users will have an exchange mailbox, personal home folder and roaming profiles.

Obviously I’m not expecting a detailed spec from this info, I was just trying to get a general idea of how many servers I should have, and what services should run on which servers.

Thanks
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Question by:japawson183
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by:herbus
ID: 18779238
You'll get different opinions probably, but here's something to get you thinking... focus on the services listed, not the number of servers, cos a lot of this could be combined to reduce actual hardware platforms needed...

1. Domain Controller / DHCP / DNS / Backup Media Server
2. 2nd DC / DNS / IAS (RADIUS) Service for Secured Wireless Connections
3. File + Print server
4. Exchange server
5. AV + other administrative tools/consoles (could happily sit on another box... the proxy would be a fair one to use)
6. Proxy / Cache / Web Filter server
7. (optional) Exchange front-end server in DMZ for Webmail + Mobility services... this could run a proxy/cache service as well if you wanted to keep server numbers down


Capacity requirements you'll have to cater for, and if it's a school they always seem to end up with Dell stuff but not necessarily, just consider hardware/software pricing for academic will be better if it's offered...

Also consider virtualising some or all platforms/services if it's going to drive cost down (there'll be a sweet spot when you're better off buying a big vm box instead of x amount of little ones)...

Cheers,
Herb
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Expert Comment

by:djohnson104
ID: 18779528
Alternative solution.
1 DC/DNS (2003 R2)
2 DC/DNS (2003 R2)
3 File + Print Server (2003 R2)
4 Exchange (Back) (2003 R2)
5.Exchange (Front) (2003 R2)
6 Application Server (Internal) (2003 R2)
7 Application Server (External DMZ)(2003 R2)
8 Storage Server for Roaming Profiles (2003 R2)
9 Layer 3 Switch to break up the 400 users in to smaller broadcast domains? This could also server as your DHCP/DNS.
10 ASA Firewall for DMZ and VPN.
11 RADIUS server for VPN and Wireless.
----------------------------------------------------------------

This is a big guess but i think its better to start big then cut and consolidate.




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by:japawson183
ID: 18779574
Thanks for the info so far, looks like i was on the right track. Any ideas about specs for the DCs?
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by:djohnson104
djohnson104 earned 100 total points
ID: 18779622
We build our own basic servers for DC's. They are running 2.4 Xeons with a GB of RAM. Nothing to special just as long as they are solid. As for our Exchange and Storage server we use prebuilt IBM machines. IBM has great support and we can understand what they say.
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herbus earned 150 total points
ID: 18779683
As far as hardware specs go, a pizza box will generally do... I know HP/IBM, not to say you'd go with either, but look at an HP DL360 as an example... 1RU, 1 dual core cpu, maybe 1gb or 2 of mem, all expandable if you need it.  Could get away with a DL320 if you're doing it on the cheap... I'm sure Dell or whoever you're looking at will have something along those lines... DC's won't be overly cpu/memory intensive unless you double-up with other services... suggest having all servers on a gigabit switch, but probably not necessary to the desktops...

Something to consider for a school I guess is that class times generally see almost everyone logging in within a short time... if it's 1600 users, then 2 DC's would be ok, but if wireless is important enough to warrant a 2nd RADIUS server for redundancy, then there you could have a 3rd DC too and it couldn't hurt...
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Author Comment

by:japawson183
ID: 18779753
Thanks for the advise guys.
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Expert Comment

by:herbus
ID: 18779876
No probs, have fun with the project,.. thanks for the points
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Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 18780757
Wow... you want general advice and you leave the question open for an hour and close it after two responses?  I'll post my thoughts next week (I'll be lucky to be home for more than sleep over the next 3 days - my background includes Windows Admin in a Biomedical research facility 2.5x the size of your organization but still with a number of similarities - and roaming profiles are not good!
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by:djohnson104
ID: 18781172
Leew. "clap, clap" < that is for you.
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by:herbus
ID: 18783973
Leew makes a very good point.  I only had about 600 staff & students to worry about when I managed a school a couple years back, so you'll have even more data to consider and roaming profiles are a two-edged sword.

While they could do without them, in my case some of the students and just about all of the staff were hopeless with computers, so they needed it all EASY... roaming profiles let them have their settings follow them and they could individually customise it enough to be comfortable with finding things, but I'd suggest you look at policy-based folder redirections etc so they don't bloat their profiles with docs and such... one example - saving to 'my documents' always seems like such a good idea but if you don't point it to a network path then it'll stick in the profile and wanna save/load everywhere they go...

...that said, folder redirections can let you do fancy things without roaming profiles too, and there's a few ways to skin the cat... If leew's up to posting any more tips on it then keep it all in mind, eh?

Cheers,
Herb
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by:japawson183
ID: 18791177
Anymore advise is welcome,!
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