Branch office design

Posted on 2007-10-11
Last Modified: 2010-03-18
I need to design a branch office network with 30 computers. This remote place has 3 small buildings in a 200 feet area. There is no cabling so the only option is wireless. We need to make this remote office part of a WAN with the main office. The users need to have access to email and a HIPAA compliant database that resides on a server at the main office. The office needs to run video conferencing also.

Could you please give me some suggestions for the equipment we need?

Is fractional T1 line enough considering the video conferencing.
Router, firewall, switches?
Should I put a server over there for DC, email, DNS, DHCP.
How should I make them connect to the database? Concerns regarding HIPAA?
Anything else that could help with this project?

Any help would be appreciated!
Question by:adrian1976
    LVL 3

    Accepted Solution

    I'm going to take this one bit by bit I think...

    Your best bet for wireless would be to have one main access point in the main building, then use 2 others as bridges in the other 2. This should give you the range you're going to need. You'll want to sit a hardware firewall between the T1 line and your network, something like a Firebox would do the job (although thats another conversation) and within each office you could keep the computers themselves wired. Using some switches you could keep the computers in each office wired & connect 2 of the offices to the main office using wireless bridges. Considering the nature of the information (HIPAA) it would be very important to implement a secure solution, 802.1x would be a good idea (although there are other options for a similar result). Pre-shared keys really aren't going to be enough from a security point of view. For the T1 line you'll need to sort out a router.

    Depending on budget constraints a server would be a good idea, running DHCP and DNS. You could make it a DC, assuming its a 2003 set-up you might want to enable universal group membership caching rather than a full blown GC. Considering the T1 line you could even get away with just a DC.

    E-mail is a different issue, you could just use OWA for the users in the branch office but usually people want Outlook, which you can accomplish by HTTPS over RPC ( - very good article by sembee on this). You could also run a dedicated exchange server (connected to the main office) for this, but considering the number of users at the branch it would seem a waste of resources.

    The database shouldn't be a big problem, you could use a VPN solution (IPSEC/L2TP please not PPTP) and have them connect in directly to access the database.

    Video Conferencing really isn't one of my strong areas so I'll have to concede I'm not 100% sure. I would think that it all depends on the quality of the stream, so it's probably possible but I really don't know what kind of quality/bandwidth sacrifices you'll need to make.

    Let me know if any of this makes no sense or if you need anything else.
    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    Has this helped at all?



    Author Comment

    Yes, it helped! Thank you!

    My worries are for the video conferencing. I don't know how much bandwidth would need. Hoping for some advice for that too.

    LVL 3

    Expert Comment

    Have a look at some of these. A T1 line will be fine for a medium quality VC.

    Hope this helps,

    Let me know if you need anything else.



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