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How to interconnect two locations with a Windows server at each location?

Posted on 2010-08-27
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-10
Current scenario: 2 offices, 10 miles apart, 15 PCs each location.  Locations each have static IPs.  Currently connected via VPN.  Each location can currently ping computers at the other location through the VPN.

The current network is peer to peer, but I want to convert both locations to domain scenario with Windows Server 2008.  Haven't decided yet if I'll go SBS with Exchange, since everyone is currently getting email via a web host.

What scenario do you recommend to give maximum interconnection between the two locations at acceptable speed?  There are about 10 employees who travel between locations with laptops.  The majority of work is Microsoft Office, Internet, email.  3 HR people use a database.  It would be nice if we could have a single domain.

The Internet connection is currently 10-15mbps download, 1mbps upload.

What do you recommend?
Question by:DaveWWW
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Accepted Solution

borki earned 1600 total points
ID: 33541010
Defintely use a single domain only. I have a few clients with this scenario.

Most have a central server which provies email (SBS Exchange) and the central data/file repository. Access from branch offices is a bit slow and will frustrate remote power users.

If you can afford it go with a server at each location and use DFS to replicate your data. If using win 7 and 2008R2 you can use the BranchCache feature.

I reckon the HR DB should be local, and if used remotly you probably need terminal server (now called remote desktop services) unless it is a web based DB. RDS may also be an option for the remote / second office users.

So thinking about it a bit more, you will probably need two servers regardless, 1 main file server (SBS) and the second server either at the branch office or as a RDS serer at the main office. In the latter case you could have one physical box with 2 virtual servers.

The new SBS 7 release is due soon and is based on 2008 R2. There is also an SBS cloud version coming, called Aurora, but it is limited to 25 users.

Expert Comment

by:Gianpiero Rossi
ID: 33541204
i would like to suggest to you another solution,
so a completely virtualized infrastructure, so you can put all in your ced, and all ur users will work with virtual workstation, so it will be accessible from everywhere, and from from any kind of PC (mac, linux win).

Let me know if this kind of solution should be fine
LVL 23

Expert Comment

ID: 33541468
I agree with borki and I think that is a more cost effective solution to you. One thing I need to stress is that DFS over a broadband VPN may not work. Also, if user at remote office opens Outlook that will create lots of traffic too so I recommend all users to use Outlook Anywhere (the old RPC over https) or OWA.

IF you decided users to stick with Web based email (as present) then there is no need buying SBS; Windows 2008 Server should be sufficient and a lot cheaper (don't forget you need CALs too).
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Is your cloud always on? With an Always On cloud you won't have to worry about downtime for maintenance or software application code updates, ensuring that your bottom line isn't affected.

LVL 17

Assisted Solution

aoakeley earned 400 total points
ID: 33547819
+1 to everything everyone else has siad. But I would also use a Terminal Server (RD Server)at the head office.

DFSR is great for data that there is no potential for two people in different sites to try to open at the same time. but very bad if two people open the same doc in two different sites at the same time

The HR database will probably not run over the WAN, and will be much faster for remote users via Terminal Services (Remote Desktop Services)


Author Comment

ID: 33553798
Thanks.  The HR dtabase is being accessed remotely via Hamachi, and they are telling me that the performance is quite acceptable, so perhaps that will also be fine when the server is installed too.

My current understanding is that there are not too many documents in use that have the potential of being opened for writing by multiple users simultaneously.  Surely there is a provision in the DFSR protocol that alerts users when this is so?

I think mostly, users would like to have offline files and redirected My Documents folders so that syncing with a server can occur no matter what location they're in.  Typical scenario for the mobile users is that they are in one office Monday and Thursday, and in the other office the other days of the business week.

They are currently using hosted pop email, but even if they stay with it, I'm thinking of using Exchange, if for no other reason but to have the pop accounts received by their Windows accounts, and thus keep a full backup of email.  (Contacts and calendars are a different story... hmm, maybe Exchange is a better way as the main mail server)

LVL 17

Expert Comment

ID: 33555135
> Surely there is a provision in the DFSR protocol that alerts users when this is so?
No there is not. As the two servers are being opened on different servers there is no way for Word/Excel/etc to know if the file is open on another server.

See here for a FAQ from microsoft
When should I not use DFS Replication?

Do not use DFS Replication in an environment where multiple users update or modify the same files simultaneously on different servers. Doing so can cause DFS Replication to move conflicting copies of the files to the hidden DfsrPrivate\ConflictandDeleted folder.

> The HR datbase is being accessed remotely via Hamachi
Though does this mean that they are just accessing their workstations remotely? in which case it is the same as accessing a RD Server. They are not truely running the DB over the WAN

> I'm thinking of using Exchange
If the users are moving around then exchange is the best solution by far. It is the only one that will give them all their email no matter what site they are in. POP solutions will download the email to the workstation, and then when they change site they will not have access to the email downloaded on the other sites. With exchange it all lives in the exchange DB and they can access it all from anywhere.

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