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Need Network options to connect an office

We are looking at options to expand our Domain to a couple of departments in our small city government.   Currently these offices exist with isolated internet connections.  We use Cisco ASA 5505 devices as our firewalls and were thinking of possibly using the Easy VPN feature to bring them into our network.  I wanted to present the 3 solutions we have thought of so far and see if you Experts could provide other solutions for increasing our LAN.  

Option 1: Metro Ethernet circuit rental through the local telephone provider  10 Mbps and $700/month  not a good option given the cost

Option 2: VPN access to the Domain but we are in a rural area and internet speed is an issue.  Each office currently only subscribes to DSL speeds of 256kbps but we could move up to 512 kbps or even 1024 kbps.  Our hesitation is the VPN encryption may cause even the 512 speed to be too slow.

Option 3: Wireless connections via some wireless Bridge devices.  This option will be incredibly expensive as we do not have line of site and will most likely require an omni-directional antenna on a tower.   But it would be the fastest option at 54 mpbs.  (radio speed)

I would like to get your help to create about 2 or 3 more options to network these satellite offices.

Thanks Experts.

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john6216
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john6216
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1 Solution
 
Jakob DigranesSenior ConsultantCommented:
to make good advice around this we need some more information;
- What are the distance between the offices?
- What kind of services do you run in the branches?
- How many users will be in each location?
- What kind of uptime do you need?

A dedicated 10Mbps IP-VPN line is by far one of the most stable and secure, but indeed costly. So to be able to take this cost you need 100% uptime and critical services.

A VPN solution from site to site is stable and reliable, you have total control of the configuration - but the WAN speed is limiting. But then againg - this is up to the user count and the type of services you run.

Wireless would not be advisable. You would need high-end equipment and you open to all kinds of interference from machinery, weather, other networking equipment and clear line og sight is needed
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Rick_O_ShayCommented:
Does your local broadband wireless (cell phone) carrier offer anything and is the coverage and price in line with what you need?
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john6216Author Commented:
jakob-d:
1. distances:   a 1/4 mile to the furthest office and 1/8 mile to the next office.  Future growth could bring an office in 1/2 mile away.
2. Services:  We host a GIS website at the main office which houses the DC's.  Also run a tax db and an accounting db.  Most bandwidth would get chewed up by the passage of large maps, and blueprints b/w branch offices.  One branch we are trying to tie in runs a harbor software which would be put on a server and this serves to keep track of visiting boats.  
3. users:  There are 3 users in one branch,  5 in another, and 3 in the third branch.  We have about 15 users in the main office.
4. uptime:  It NEEDS to be functional between the hours of 8-5 M-F.  After 5 there is quite a bit of latitude.  A good estimate for the 8-5 block of time would be %80-85 uptime at the least.

Rick O Shay:
Our local provider offers the  Metro V- circuit option listed in option 1 of the question.

Outside of that there are no options for data transfer via cell phone transmissions (wireless)  And even if there were coverage is spotty.

THanks for the help so far.
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Rick_O_ShayCommented:
That's too bad that you can't get them to take care of the radio part.
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dharenalCommented:
Our university (SIU) was faced with a similar problem about a decade ago.  How to (more) effectively connect the satellite facility (an airport 5 miles away) other than continuing to use the existing 128K ISDN line ($200/mo). After researching the solutions (DSL, 1M ISDN, Microwave transceivers), it was determined that erecting masts at the locations and installing the transceivers was the most cost-effective option (total price tag of about ~$15,000). I do not recall if we utilized encryption technology within the transmitter hardware.  The tallest mast was atop a five story building, the satellite mast was approx 50ft tall.  The result: we were browsing the net at T1 speeds with no further monthly costs. We continue to use this very system.

Today, I would recommend a pair of multi-homed routers using NIC teaming on two 768K DSL lines, but this wasn't available then (1999).

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john6216Author Commented:
dharenal:  Could you provide some more info on the multi-homed routers?  Could you point out a couple of good descriptive websites on this solution.  As we are in a rural area, we are typically about 10 years behind the curve...  In any case,  What type of radio transcievers are you folks using and how do you get past the 54 mbps transmission limit?  
In your opinion what would be the most cost-effective route using technology that is available today and also won't back you into a corner in terms of expansion and future growth?

Thanks
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dharenalCommented:
The distances you mention are short ( < 1Mile) enough, that I would seriously weigh the cost of running and maintaining your own cables, or else, purchase the microwave transceivers (and negotiate a great warranty).

That said, the following is an example of a turnkey multi-homed VPN product:
http://www.xincom.com/products/dpg/603/

You can also build your own load-balanced (Multi-homed) VPN (I've only created Single-NIC'ed VPN). I've yet to have the opportunity to evaluate this, but I am sure it is possible:
http://openvpn.net/index.php/open-source/documentation/howto.html#loadbalance
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/820752

I don't think we went higher than 8-10Mbps, (T1 is only 1.5Mbps):
http://www.meridianmicrowave.com/

Contact:
http://www.avtech.siu.edu/pages/index.html
for transmitter equipment details
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