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Server over a WAN

Posted on 2014-12-06
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Last Modified: 2015-01-25
I have a customer who has recently merged with another business, across two sites. The current set up is that one site has a Server running Windows Server 2008 and the other just has a peer-to peer network with PCs running Windows 7, an iMAC and a NAS. Both sites currently have standard broadband, so typically 5 Mb/s download, 0.5Mb/s upload. Both sites currently have their own separate web domains.

What would EE experts recommend as the best solution to integrate the two sites, for file, calendar and contacts sharing and operate as a now single entity over a WAN?

I am reluctant to just set up VPNs into the Server site as this is likely to be too slow operationally, being constrained by the uplink speed of the site with the Server.

Cloud solutions such as Google Apps could work, but there is always the fundamental issue that file locking is not (cannot be?) implemented in such systems.

Any advice welcome.

Thanks
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Question by:socross
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11 Comments
 
LVL 24

Assisted Solution

by:Mohammed Khawaja
Mohammed Khawaja earned 215 total points
ID: 40485381
Look at Office365 as it allows multiple users working on the same file at the same time (i.e. two users editing an Excel file).  It is economical, feature rick as well as all different platforms can use Office.  Also note that subscribing to E3 package, each user gets to use Office on 5 smart phones, 5 tablets and 5 computers in addition to web version of Office as well as 10 GB (could be 50 GB now) of OneDrive.
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LVL 14

Assisted Solution

by:Allen Falcon
Allen Falcon earned 214 total points
ID: 40485475
Google Apps with AODocs File server will give you the file locking you are looking for.

If they have any local apps that require a windows environment and cannot be migrated to a SaaS solution, a simple cloud/hosted VDI environment will do the trick.

Happy to discuss options in more detail.
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Author Comment

by:socross
ID: 40485868
Thanks Allen. Could you please provide a bit more detail. That would be much appreciated. Thanks.
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LVL 24

Assisted Solution

by:Mohammed Khawaja
Mohammed Khawaja earned 215 total points
ID: 40486999
If you have any Excel spreadsheets with add-ins and VB macros then Google Apps may not be the solution for you.  In finance, lots of users rely on macros, etc. and this might be the deal breaker in most cases.  Ensure to test Google Apps with your sales and finance users to ensure they meet all your needs.  Also note that with Office 365, you do not need a server as you could use SharePoint for shared documents and OneDrive for individual user data.
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LVL 14

Assisted Solution

by:Allen Falcon
Allen Falcon earned 214 total points
ID: 40489809
AODocs is a centralize file management service that overlays and sits on Google Drive.   It provides additional management capabilities as well as a Chrome extension that lets you launch MS Office apps from the Drive screen.  This provides file locking when one person is editing.

As an upgrade, AODocs Doc Portal lets you add and manage meta data and provides check-in/out features with workflow.

If you are interested in learning more, we can arrange a demo.

Allen
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Accepted Solution

by:
Chach DalSanto earned 71 total points
ID: 40489873
I agree with Mohammed; Google Apps is not the answer to everything.  It's fine for personal use but I don't know one client of ours who has been happy with it once implemented.  We personally do not recommend Office365 any longer, however.  This is due to several clients of ours migrating off due to poor customer service.  

You could look at a third party Hosted Exchange solution, like Rackspace, Bellissimail (our solution; full disclosure), GoDaddy or 1&1.  That would certainly cover the email, calendaring, contacts, etc. that you want to share, and it would be fully compatible.  Office 365 has had several big outages a year since launching, plus you'll get very unsatisfactory customer service with non-standard conversions.  

Also, many of these hosted solutions (not Bellissimail) include SharePoint space that you could use for collaboration.  It wouldn't take long at all, even for a novice, to set up a basic site for this purpose.  Hope this helps.
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LVL 14

Assisted Solution

by:Allen Falcon
Allen Falcon earned 214 total points
ID: 40490035
Many of the companies we move onto Drive/AODocs are doing so because of the challenge of implementing and maintaining sharepoint, along with the challenge of backing up sharepoint sites.

While most users switch over to the Google Docs productivity suite, many continue to use MS Office applications to meet their needs, or because of familiarity.  The Chrome extension lets you use the Drive interface as you use Windows Explorer; you can open MS Office applications directly.  And, just like opening a Word doc from a file server, the app runs locally, the data is cached, and is automatically shaved back to the server (in this case Drive).

It's the closest, most reliable solution we've seen for using Drive as a centrally managed file service.
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LVL 24

Assisted Solution

by:Mohammed Khawaja
Mohammed Khawaja earned 215 total points
ID: 40490821
Implementing SharePoint is not hard and if on the cloud, backups are much easier (in most cases all you need to do is enable the dumpster feature for a reasonable amount and enable versioning) and most businesses use SharePoint for document library only (no fancy website or features, just to house documents).  Implementing multiple technologies and stitching them together results in multiple points of failure.  With Office 365, OneDrive can keep your files synchronized and in an event of failure, you still have access to your files and not the same can be said about mail.  Office 365 had its issues but it is getting better and more reliable.
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LVL 2

Expert Comment

by:Chach DalSanto
ID: 40491225
Looks like you have several options here.  Look at each one closely for their pro's and con's and decide what the best one for you is.
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:socross
ID: 40495692
Thanks for all suggestions so far. I am in discussions with the customer and it may be some time before this gets resolved, especially as we are now heading into the Christmas /New year period. So please be patient for points. I will come back as soon as I have an update or a resolution......
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:socross
ID: 40568965
Sadly the customer has gone with another supplier. But I have awarded points to say thanks to those who responded.
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