Linking 2 buildings together

I have a client who has 2 buildings that are about 100 yards (300ft) away from one another. Their current IT consultant has recommended boring a hole underground and running a fiber cable to conect the 2 building's together. The main building is running a SBS 2003 server. Neither one of the buildings has a fiber cable coming in, and both buildings have CAT5 cabling inside. So here are my questions as I am not familiar with fiber at all.

1) Can you link 2 buildings together with a fiber cable which does not have fiber running inside? Basically fiber to cat5 is what is going to have to take place.

2) I was thinking of a site to site vpn. What hardware components would you suggest? I was thinking a cisco box.

3) Am I way out in left field thinking that a fiber line is going to have much more cost involved versus a site to site setup?

4) If this were your customer, what would be your method of completing the task.
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Matt VCommented:
Fiber can be used to link to buildings, there are devices to convert from fiber back to copper.

You may want to look at a point to point wireless link, it may be cheaper than burying fiber.

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I think fiber will be the BEST solution for this. ESPECIALLY if you are able to put it in the ground. You should feel very lucky that this is even an option!

It should be as easy as having a switch in each location that has Fiber ports (usually minigbic or something to like).

If you look at this switch ( It is a Linksys (made by Cisco) SRW2048 switch. It has 4 mini-gbic ports. You would only need to buy 2 mini-gbics. One for each switch. Then you run the fiber from the switch in the main building to the switch in the other building.

Site to Site VPN would also work. While Fiber would be a billion times faster, if there isn't going to be much traffic between the 2 buildings, this could easily work. You can do a Sonicwall to Sonicwall VPN, or a cisco ASA to ASA firewall.

If you can realistically run fiber from one switch to the other, this is definitely the way to go. These Linksys(CISCO) SR2048 switches are only $800 a piece. Then it would plus the cost of fiber.

Having to buy 2 firewalls would probably be close in cost.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
1.  Yes.  At the last company I worked for, we had fiber connecting a building two miles away... and all buildings on campus were connected via fiber.  You would use a fiber transceiver to convert between Fiber and cat5.  10/100 transceivers are pretty cheap.  Gigabit transceivers can be $500+ EACH and you need two (one on each end), assuming your switches don't support fiber and you don't intend on running it all the way to your switches.  The length limit of fiber is FAR greater than cat5.

2.  VPNs are ok, but unless you're willing to spend many thousands, I don't think you'll find a VPN that supports even close to 100Mbit speeds.  Fiber can (as of now, I believe) support 10 Gbit - but can also be used at slower, less expensive component wise, speeds.  For performance, you don't want a VPN.

3.  The fiber cable and transceivers shouldn't cost more than $1000 - assuming you go with 10/100 transceivers.   And it's easily upgraded later - replace the transceivers.  The expensive part will likely be burying the cable.  Though technically, you may be able to string it up like telephone wires - fiber is not subject to lightning like cat5 (copper) cables are.

4.  Impossible to say.  I'm not there to physically inspect the site.  I would definitely favor fiber.  But depending on customer needs, budget, and future plans, another solution may be fine.
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Wes MillerInfromation Technology SupportCommented:
Look at this site to get a better understanding :
This website does an excellent job of  explaining how the 2 differ and the benefits/cost effectivness  of Fibre compared Cat5e Wire.
They also sell the products so you can compare the cost and see the difference in expense for each.

Fiber can definitely be used.  That is how the major phone carriers are pushing their IP based services - fiber to the house box, then copper wire inside the house.

I agree with mttvmotas - a point to point wireless link would probably be much cheaper.  One of my former clients had a satellite link from their primary building to their backup hot site.  The only problem they ever really had was the weather - sometimes very stong winds would move the satellites a little bit so they did not have a good connection and someone would have to go realign them.  This did not happen often and the connection was very fast and reliabe.
Yeah most switches now come with several (2 - 4) fiber ports (usually SFP) and then 24 - 48 standard rj-45 ports. The fiber ports still run ethernet so everything is the same when it comes to configuration and moving traffic.

My suggestion is get a couple cisco 3750s with SFP ports for each side. run your fiber between the two and then set the rest of your networks behind the 3750s.

Your IT consultant should be able to give you more details on the details of this. If not shot them back this way and we will help.

"I was thinking of a site to site vpn. What hardware  components would you suggest? I was thinking a cisco box."

no need if you are going the P2P fiber route since it is a dedicated link.

"Am I way out in left field thinking that a fiber  line is going to have much more cost involved versus a site to site  setup?"

With a VPN your traffic is going to need to go over the internet since you will not have a direct link which will limit this traffic to the WAN link speed (minus VPN overhead) compared to the 1Gbps speed you will get with fiber. Heck if you can convene the powers to be the 3750 even supports 10gbps links which the fiber can easily handle. But the 1Gbps should be plenty.
Trenching would probably be more appropriate.  Requires licensed contractor, insurance, permits, inspection, etc.  But, you could do it once, put in multiple PVC conduit for future use, then write it into accounting as a tenant improvement (if leasing) or property improvement if you own the buildings.

Take care to bury metal tape over your conduit.  Makes it easier to find with a metal detector in the future.  Otherwise, a backhoe may cut through it with disastrous results.

High-tech for the sake of high-tech is not a good argument.  If it offers advantages OVER low-tech, then it would have merit.
MCSA2003Author Commented:
Thanks for all of your comments. This is a local government agency and they are looking at connecting one branch (police department) with the municipal building. I have since learned that they are looking at replacing the phones as well as tying them into their server. I believe the Fiber option is going to be the way to go. Again, thanks for all of your input.
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