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Building a 24 workstation network

Posted on 2008-10-11
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I do tax and business rules consulting for a mental health practice with a staff of 12 professionals and 5 administratives. They currently occupy 2 offices and have built a new office in which to consolidate their practice. The new office has about 4,000 sq. ft. and a "server closet" located near the center of the office space. The longest wire run would likely not exceed 100' and, on my advice, Cat 5 data cable has been run, originating fron the "server closet", to the 24 data connections in the building. I have been asked to provide an Executive Summary of their needs for the following LAN.

--18 workstations being served DSL Internet
--6 workstations being served DSL Internet and administrative applications for billing and CMS (Client Management Software)
-- 24 workstations being served an Intranet

Cost is a significant consideration for this practice. The mental health profession has not been treated well by the insurance industry and the limits that have been set for reimbursement have not changed for many years. The practice contiues to provide much needed services yet their costs continue to rise but their revenue streams are being controlled by the insurance industry and the government run Medicare system.

I want to offer open-source solutions, as much as is practical, for their consideration. I have maintained the technology infrastructure in the 2 offices for 3 years. But, I have used 4 port routers for the administrative tasks and wireless connections for the professionals. HIPAA (Health Insurance Protability Accountability Act) has a stringent privacy component and I feel that wireless is less secure than I prefer have advised them to provide hard connections rather than wireless in the new facility for security reasons.

The administrative workstations are currently DELLs of various ages with none being more than three years old and running Windows XP Professional (SP2) on three and Windows Vista (sp1) on the other 2. Each professional has their own laptop and currently connects to the network for Internet service; I maintain the laptops on an as needed basis as they are not part of the Practice hardware. There is currently no Intranet but one will be developed.

Their CMS system is vintage 1993 (DOS) and limits their flexibility in data collection and maintenance. I have designed a GUI environment with Microsoft Access but it is not yet implemented in anticipation of the new office environment. In the near future I want to convert the CMS system to a MySQL database and Open-Office office software suite.

My questions deal with the technical issues of delivering Internet and Intranet to the 24 data connections and serving the 6 administrative workstations with their CMS software. I seek the advice of an Expert to determine what hardware I need to handle the LAN I have described. If more information is needed, Please let me know. I am offering maximum points to the best, most practical and low-cost solution to this problem.
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Question by:ergenbgr
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kdearing earned 500 total points
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For networking equipment, you're going to need a firewall and 2x 24-port or 1x 48-port switch(es).

Firewalls (all have VPN capability) -
    Cisco ASA 5505                               ASA5505-50-BUN-K9              $500
    WatchGuard Firebox X20e                                                                $375
    3Com OfficeConnect VPN Firewall                                                    $250
    SonicWall TZ170                                                                                $225
    Linksys RV042                                                                                   $200
    Netgear Prosafe FVS124                                                                   $130
    Netgear Prosafe FVS114                                                                   $70

Switches (48-port) -
    Dell PowerConnect 3548                                                                   $500
    3Com SuperStack 3 Switch 4300 48-port 3C17100US                     $250

Switches (24-port) -
    Netgear Prosafe JSV524                                                                   $100
    Linksys SR224                                                                                   $100

My normal recommendation would be the Cisco ASA5505 and the Dell 3548 for about $1000

However, if money is really critical, then I'd go with the Netgear FVS124 and a couple of Linksys SR224's for less than $350.
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by:ergenbgr
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Thanks kdearing. I will review this more carefully and get back to you if I have questions. I will award points as soon as I complete my analysis.
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by:kdearing
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No problem.

Also note that there are many solutions that are more expensive. All the devices I've mentioned are 'business-class' designed for small businesses and branch offices.
It's possible to get the cost down even more, but I don't recommend it. That would involve using 'consumer-grade' equipment designed for home use.

Hope this helps.
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by:kyleb84
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For the Switch, HP ProCurve offers a lifetime warranty....

HP ProCurve 2510-24
- 24 Port 10/100
- ~$450

HP ProCurve 2510-48
- 48 Port 10/100
- ~600

HP ProCurve 2510G-48
- 48 Port Gigabit
- $1500

HP ProCurve 2610-48-PWR
- 48 Port 10/100
- Provides PoE, future proofing your network if you ever decide to go with a VoIP phone system.
- $2200

Like kdearing said, it easy to spend cheap, but it's really worth going and getting some quality gear - and doing it right the first time.

Note: The lifetime warranty means that if a switch was to die 10 years from now, it'd be replaced with a brand new one - or if that model is EOL, one of equivalent specs.

I've installed many of the 2610 series (and higher) - specifically for VoIP applications, great switches, highly recommended - and super easy to configure (no config necessary if you just want it to operate as a basic switch, just plug and play)
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by:ergenbgr
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Well done and appreciated
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