Challenges & Considerations
- Implementing significant changes without causing disruption or downtime
- Finding the right solutions at the appropriate cost
- Difficulties in re-cabling the office due to its layout and allowing good coverage and bandwidth to all users on multiple floors.
- Moving database to on-premises would require reliable (new) hardware
- To host all services in the cloud or use an on-premise server where appropriate
- To utilize existing cabling setup or to start again from scratch
- To upgrade all workstations and reduce costs or replace all hardware
- Quick growth of company creating challenges in ensuring users and devices comply with regulatory requirements.
- Main database hosted on a cloud server over VPN incredibly slow and difficult to use with additional (unnecessary) monthly costs.
- Devices connected by daisy chaining switches due to cabling limitations resulting in slow performance due to bandwidth sharing.
- Old hardware running home editions of Windows resulting in limitations and poor performance.
We broke the project down into four stages –
- Server install
- Database changeover
- Workstation upgrades
To reduce disruption Qdos re-cabled the offices between Christmas and New Year while all staff were away. This gave us all the access we needed to run additional cables which we used alongside the existing cabling. To save extra man hours and cabling costs running a cable to every phone and computer we used Netgear Smart switches to trunk 4 ports together between floors and other parts of the office which increased the bandwidth four-fold. With the additional cabling this meant all devices had a 1Gbps connection back to a 4Gbps trunk.
With the cabling completed we installed a Dell PowerEdge server and created 2 virtual machines: the first to manage the network services (data, user logins, workstations, printing, DNS, DHCP and group policy) – and the other to host the database. Because these were virtual machines each server was setup to backup to encrypted USB drives which are rotated and taken offsite each week.
The database was then brought onsite and hosted on the dedicated virtual machine and now it works perfectly. The issues caused by broadband outages and VPN disconnections have been eliminated.
As the client practices law and primarily uses Outlook, Excel and Word it was agreed that the machines didn't need to be incredibly powerful, just sufficiently fast. We therefore recommended upgrading their existing computers with a SSD (solid state drive) and Windows 10 Pro and we configured them to be managed from the new server which acts as a domain controller. Each upgrade cost £130 compared to £500 for a comparable new model. This effectively saved our client around £5000 in hardware costs. All workstations are still working perfectly well 18 months later.
There were additional alterations such as improving VPN access for remote users, updating antivirus and security packages, and implementing cloud backups.
This whole network was revamped and setup as a business network. Now the workstations are locked down with group policy so users cannot use USB sticks to remove company data, a password policy is place to enforce changes every 90 days, and any user can log in to any workstation (roaming profiles). It is also compliant to meet their suppliers’ needs and regulations.
It's great to see our client enjoying their IT setup which now works for them and does everything that they need.