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Building-To-Building Connections for local Windows network

Posted on 2013-06-14
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Last Modified: 2013-06-19
We have one server 2008R2 that is domain controller, file storage, dns server, and everything else.  We currently have this server in one building with around 15 users connected locally.  

There are 3 more buildings within a block of this main office that need to be connected.  There is one building that is approximately 3 blocks line-of-sight away from the main office.  They are all fairly close in physical location but all have different Internet pipes currently.

At these three buildings, I want to have the basic functionality of server access (network drives) primarily.  We do have some Group Policies that we have on the domain during login but that is not a big issue.  The biggest thing I want to accomplish is to have the remote buildings able to save documents on the server so it is more readily accessible for others and also so the files can be backed up with the rest of the important things on the server also.

I would like to get these buildings all connected so they are all on the domain and on the same network.  This would save on extra Internet connections also if we get a reliable solution.  This was my original anticipations and the reason that I bought 6 EnGenius ENH500 to do the building-to-building wireless connections for three of the buildings.  I plan on using UPS devices on them to prevent power problems also.

I also thought about doing VPN.  We have a Cisco ASA so we could do a VPN using that.  We also have LogMeIn Hamachi so I started testing using the VPN with this.  It works well and does the job well but the performance just isn't there for viewing and opening files on the network which you have to expect using an Internet-piped VPN.  

What suggestions can I get from some others on what to do for a reliable connection between these buildings?  Time is not a problem if I need to order hardware.  I just want to get it all setup initially in a good way to make sure that it is going to be reliable.
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Question by:alatham23
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by:jhyiesla
jhyiesla earned 400 total points
ID: 39248264
I suppose a lot of it depends on the number of users at each building and speeds you hope to achieve and criticality of what happens there and being able to get back to the main server infrastructure. We have a central office that houses all of our main LAN and servers. We have two types of remote offices.

One type is a single user or maybe two and we have a Cisco VPN device at each site running over either DSL or Cable connected directly back to a VPN concentrator in our main office.  

Type two are larger facilities with more bandwidth and many more users.  For these we have an MPLS circuit to our ISP's cloud with multi-MB speeds.

Each has it's purposes and it's costs. One thing that I always suggest, if you can swing it, is to never ever ride on someone else's wire if it can be avoided. We have done that at places and at some point have always paid a price when their circuits fail and we spend so much time finger pointing and trying to get them to fix an issue that is negatively affecting us.  Or the owner will make some deep change to what they allow or don't and that will inevitably break some critical function for us.  If you just lease your own circuits and pull your own cable to your suites, it always works out better... but there is a financial cost to that :)
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by:alatham23
ID: 39248290
I would like to get them as close to the "lan" type speeds if possible.  Even if it is only 10/100 I would not mind but thinking I want to start that direction.  

I forgot to mention the amount of users.  There would be not more than around 4-5 users at each of these three locations.  There should only be a total of close to 10 users added even with these three remote locations.  It is still going to be a small network.

I like the idea or running my own pipe using fiber underground or something else but don't know if that is an option with the cost of that in this rural area.  I know we could get a better pipe from our ISP for around 5-6 times the current cost at each place.  I do agree with doing it yourself if you have the option.  

I will keep checking on some variables here and see what else I can come up with.
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jhyiesla earned 400 total points
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About the only way to get LAN speeds is,as you said, run your own fiber or, if it's available, do an MPLS thing like we did. Otherwise you are probably limited to DSL or cable speeds. And if you are in a rural area, that could be iffy.

This isn't always available, but in one more remote site, the loca ISP offered a wireless solution. So we have an antenna on our building that talks to a lager antenna close by and that connects to the Internet. Within the building we have a Cisco VPN device that comes back to our VPN concentrator.  We don't get LAN speeds, but it's been a reasonable alternative.
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by:Craig Beck
Craig Beck earned 100 total points
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Get yourself a pair of Ubiquiti NanoStations for each site link.  They're mega reliable.
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by:alatham23
ID: 39260404
I will check into the Ubiquiti NanoStations for other installations down the road.  I have had some good luck so far with the EnGenius ENH500 units that I have setup to get the connections between the buildings setup.

Sorry this was a tricky question because I confused myself and started using VPN instead of just a building-to-building wireless system to try and get things going quicker but the wireless system was the better path with greater bandwidth and reliability.
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