Medium Size Office Network Setup -- Need Advice

Posted on 2009-04-28
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
I am in the process of analyzing our current office network setup and am wondering if there is a better way to go about it.  Any recommendations would be great.

- Office 1 (West Coast):
- 50 users
- 2 T1 lines (Bonded)
- Star topology network, 1 master HP ProCurve GB switch, 1 small GB switch per department
- 1 2003 AD Server
- 1 2003 Exchange Server
- 1 Large File Server
- VPN trunk to East Coast office

Office 2 (East Coast):
- 35 usres
- 1 T1 line
- 1 Master GB switch
- 1 2003 AD Server
- 1 2003 Exchange Server (Syncs with Office 1)
- 1 Large File Server

1.) Should i add a 2nd switch in the server room to help load balance?
2.) Should the servers be connected to a seperate switch than the users?
3.) Would it be benneficial to have a 2nd Exchange server at each site?
5.) Is it a good idea to Virtualize DNS, Exchange, or File Servers?  We use VMWare ESX.
6.) Is it better to host DHCP from a router or 2003 Server?
7.) Recommend a SAN solutions?  Need 30TB+, budget $50,000 or less.
8.) Reccomend backup solutions for SAN?

Any other suggestions would be appreciated.
Question by:OC12
    LVL 14

    Expert Comment

    For the networking questions, I would suggest contacting HP Design Center services.
    They will take your current configuration and needs and make recommendations for free.
    LVL 4

    Accepted Solution

    Hi. Is this question still live?

    1, Plugging another switch in and sharing the cables across them will reduce the amount of traffic that each switch handles but isn't likely to extend it's life any. It would be better to have all the cables in one switch but have a standby redundant switch in case of complete failure. It's been designed to have all the ports in use so why not use them? If you want the servers plugged into both switches at the same time that incurs network configuration which will be more trouble than it's worth for your situation.

    2, In a small (ish) office environment, I don't see the need to have a totally seperate switch just for three servers.  Especially ifthe users are on seperat switches connected to the main switch. Just make sure you know which cables are the servers. Maybe designate the first block of ports for servers and the rest for other devices. Label it, so everyone knows!

    3, A second exchange server will add redundancy but is a bit overkill for 50 users. It's best to keep things as simpole as possible, but easy to get carried away trying to creat a microcosm of a large organisation. Assuming the servers are both in the same room, there will be a few cases where the redundancy will be usesless (fire, flood) Of course, you still need a plan for the event that the server does go down. There are options if you have shared storage, but more on that later. Using VMWare adds to the equation as well.

    5, (I don't know what happened to 4) If the three servers between them are being utilised less than the full capacity of a brand new server then you could virtualise them and have just one physical machine per office. This would save on power and cooling expenses, but they're probably not high anyway. If you've got the time and the money you could go for two VMware servers per office in failover configuration using the SANs you could also buy.

    6, If DHCP is working from your router, I'd leave it be. If you fancy  a change you'll have more configuration options available if you use the Windows server.

    7, We have a very reasonably priced SANMelody SAN. You buy a storage controller, which is a normal Windows server (Poweredge or something) and then a storage device. We have a Dell MD 3000. and the San melody software sits on the server and resentsthe disks as a SAN. I don't know the actual cost but it was cheaper than a one-piece SAN solution.

    8, BAcking up the SAN will depend on you requirements regarding length of retetion, and how easily you need the backed up data to be. If you had a SAN controller in each office being replicated across the VPN, would that be any good? Otherwise, it's generally tape to backup. We'd need to know what you want.

    It sounds like you've got a fairly standard setup already. If you're thinking about redesigning your entire IT setup then you could well make changes to include SAN/virtualisation etc but that will depend in whether you think it's worth the effort. Are you having any specific prolems you think you could address?

    So, if anyone's still monitoring this, please let us know how you geton.


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