Network deployment on a farm with 2 different sites

Hi,

I am a new member of expert exchange and I have a new contract which left me with a bit of questions. So let me explain the situation.

I have to deploy a network on a farm. Installation of the network itself should be a breeze. The reason of this network is to read cow temperature. Each cow will be installed with internal wireless transmitter which reads the cows internal temperature and let's the farmer see any significant change in the cows temperature which let's him monitor the cow for potential problem/disease. Each transmitter will send a signal to the receiver every X minutes. Those transmitters are then connected to the network (see http://www.bellaag.com/ for more info).

Here is my problem. The farm is divided in 3 separates sites. Site A is where the server will be. Site B is a small site with some cows. Sites C is the site where we can find the most cows and where I expect the most network traffic. EACH of the sites will be on their own network (actually it is possible to make Site A and B one network which is what I might do). So to make this easier let's just say right now that SITE A and B are one site and C is completely separate. As far as I can understand the transmitters have to be on the same subnet (information that I will have to confirm here I am already in contact with BellaAg for more technical information).

Every site has their own internet connection but right now are completely separate. The software taking care of those readings will be installed on the server in SITE A. Please also note that I am not a specialized in networking so some patience and explanation might be required.

For now my question is: How do I make the contact with SITE A and C? Temperature readings will be going through the network at SITE C but they do need to end up and merge with the readings and site A and B. To make this a bit more complicated we are looking for a low cost solution. For some other software that we will be using we have thought of remote control on the main server from every computer installed on the farm (please note we are aware of the limitations of this method). There is no price for this low cost solution but a server/domain solution was not very welcomed it seemed (but if it's the only solution it will have to do). So do not limit the answers to the low cost solution problem but try to keep that in mind when giving an answer.

If you need more information please let me know. I am also talking with BellaAg at the moment so more in depth information will also be available if needed.

Thank you
Doman64Asked:
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FrabbleCommented:
Interesting. You will need to provide more information - the BellaSAg site give very little.

What presentation to the readers give; ethernet, serial?
You will need to confirm the transmitter network requirements.
What kind of machine does the software run on?
What is the distance between sites?
rfc1180Commented:
Well, this can be accomplished in several ways; I highly doubt that the networks must be on the same subnet; however, I am not familiar with their products. If there products do not allow the functionality of communcating with a default gateway (The absence of the ability of adding a default gateway in the physical hardware) then yes, all sites must be on the same subnet. If this is the case, I would highly recommend a commerical grade router such as a Cisco router at all sites. You can not assume that both sites A and B are one, if you have already stated each site has Internet access, then add that into the design and not assume; this is a known variable that should be accounted for. Due to the fact that you have Internet access at all sites, you will need a site to site VPN between all sites. A site to site VPN can be configured to be routed (Routing between different subnets) and non-routed (utilizing a concept called bridging, a layer 2 function).

Solutions:

All sites are required to be on the same subnet:
You will need to create a S2S VPN between all sites and then bridge all their interfaces so that traditional local traffic such as ARP and Broadcast can traverse the router and pass between all sites allow communications to exist. It appears that the application is very low traffic and will be fine with this design.

If all sites have the ability to communcation and be configured with a default gateway, and the assumption is that the recievers are able to communcate with the server from a TCP client/server perspective, the best practice on the network design is to separate the network is 3 differenent networks to allow scalability and ease of management.

Having all your recievers in one network will not allow the network to grow; as network engineers or even from a customer perspective, there is no way to know if the business will expand to additional sites, so if the additional sites grow, the available hosts decreases from a single broadcast domain perspective.

To allow the network to scale (grow) efficiently, design the network in routed mode, designing all sites in different subnets.

Billy

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Doman64Author Commented:
Thanks for the quick answers.

-The readers are all ethernet interface.
- This information will be confirmed soon but as I understand it all the readers have to be on the same subnet. I will also get more information.
- The Software will run on a regular PC with Windows 7 Pro and a raid build. Like I said we need a low cost solution for now. The information transferred will be minimal and only in short bursts. If we need to we'll had a real server solution.
-Sites A and B are about 300feet from each other. Site A and C are roughly 2000feet from each other.

Most of the network will be done with a mix of Power Line network (where available) and Wireless bridge antennas.

In Regards of Billy answer,

Thanks for the complete answer. S2S VPN will probably be my choice. Do you have by any chance some kind of guide or information? I have done some VPN in the past but it will be my first attempt at S2S VPN.

While I think you are totally right about the limited scalability of having 3 sites on 1 network, my customer does not wish to have a more traditionnal client/server solution. I have explained that to him and he is aware of this. Since this will be also my first time with bellaAg I will try to keep things are simple are possible for now.

Another question, like I said I am not specialized in networking and I do have that feeling that the Cisco solution would be the best but I have done limited work in Cisco router in the past, so I doubt that I have enough skill at the moment in the area to do a good job. Right now I was leaning more towards DLink, Netgear or Sonicwall (all commercial grade of course) since I worked with all of these in the past. Do you have any suggestions on any commercial router?

I will be back with more information also,

Thank you,
Dominic
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FrabbleCommented:
As an alternative to rfc1180's solution, since you're having to use wireless technololgy, connect all sites using wireless bridges. Providing you have clear line of site between buildings this could be easily achieved with the distances you've mentioned. You would be bridging between sites so all devices would be on the one network and you would not be relying on external internet access for what is essentially a local operation.
Doman64Author Commented:
To Frabble:

This is how it was supposed to be at first, unfortunately in the country side here in Canada a lot of people uses wireless broadband to have access to high speed internet. There is no house between SITE A and B but there is some between A and C and usually the antennas that are used are between 900MHZ to 2.4GHZ, so the area between site A and C is very prone to interference and the neighbors wont be happy :(

I have thought about a 5GHZ antenna but they do seem to have range problems, but I will look into that.

Thanks for your answer,
Dominic
rfc1180Commented:
>-Sites A and B are about 300feet from each other. Site A and C are roughly 2000feet from each other.


Interesting; knowing this information now, you could utilize wireless Point to Point bridges such as frabble indicated:

http://www.ubnt.com/nanobridge

You could have 3 links in a point to point configuration creating a ring topology that will meet your requirements. This will also add redundancy in your layer 2 infrastructure. The nanobridge devices get you 150Mbps assuming line of site between all sites; at 150 dollars a link, this is very cost affective. If this design is considered, you have to also factor in design costs of a designing a point to point network. There are several ways to accomplish the same concepts of wireless bridging; point to multipoint or point to point.

So what do you use; well, typically wireless bridging would be utilized as a last mile solution; since you already have Internet access, the concept ofa  site to site VPN is a hardened solution; however, there are monthly fees for each of the sites for Internet connectivity. Assuming 45 dollars a month for each Internet connection; this equates to 1620 dollars a year in Internet fees; for a 5 years TCO solution with the consideration of OpEx and CapEx, you are looking at about 15000 - 20000 dollars.

You as the Engineer need to provide all the details to the customer; cost, reliability, scalability, etc to the table and the customer will need to make the decision; this will more than likely be based on cost and tends to override scalability and reliability.

For a turn key wireless solution that includes the parts, labor, installation, engineering time, etc.,  you are looking at the total cost of the wireless solution to be roughly around 3000-5000 dollars.

Billy
rfc1180Commented:
that are used are between 900MHZ to 2.4GHZ, so the area between site A and C is very prone to interference and the neighbors wont be happy :(

I have thought about a 5GHZ antenna but they do seem to have range problems, but I will look into that.

Never assume anything! This is why site surveys must be conducted to allow you to look at ALL solutions. Site surveys includes spectrum analysis which will allow an engineer to look at the spectrum to determine the level any interference, if any does exist. If so, what are the dB levels, S/N ration, Fade marging, etc. Designing a wireless bridge is not complex, but it is not easy either; you do need the technicial skills and usually requires the cost of hiring a RF/Wireless Engineer to properly design a wireless bridge.

Billy
Doman64Author Commented:
Hehe yes we do have the long term cost in mind also. One way or another the internet access for all 3 sites are there anyway.

The more we talk about it the more I feel like going back to the wireless solution like I initially thought. I will highly consider the wireless option. I might be able to get someone for the wireless site survey.

The S2S VPN is another viable option. Do you have any router to recommend (except the Cisco line you already recommended)?
rfc1180Commented:
Yes, the VPN solution is viable, and I would choose a hardwire solution over a wireless solution; however, your hands are now in the mercy of the ISP which can not guarentee any type of reliability or even SLA, where as you can design a wireless link to be equally reliable as a hardwire link assuming relatively short distances where fade margin is high and high S/N ratio (RSL higher than the noise).

Billy
carlmdCommented:
Take a look at Meraki (www.meraki.com) for the wireless and VPN solution (built in). These units are simple to set up, and are configured and managed via a cloud controller accessible from a browser. This would give you a quick and easy way to set up the network, configure the VPN, monitor the network, and respond to support requests. Best of all, you don't have to be a networking expert to use them. Cost is very reasonable and they have outdoor units as well.
Doman64Author Commented:
Thanks a lot for the great support. Wireless technology will be used here but the S2S VPN might actually be used in another contract I will have soon.
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