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What hardware do you recommend for a bussiness network?

Last response: in Wireless Networking
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January 16, 2006 7:58:38 PM

Hello.
our business has finally decided to join the network bandwagon and improve our business.
I need some help with setting up a small business network. This network will be used in a small dental practice. I have 6 employees including myself and I would like a network that will be simple to use and maintain for the future. I need a server and 5 desktops. I already have one desktop with Windows XP PRO installed. The max for my budget is around $5000-$8000. As you may not know, I do not know how much everything is gonna cost for what I need in this network.

This is how I will need the Network set up:

1. I need one desktop for our front desktop to check people in and out, and also to monitor patients' files. (Dental Records, not Computer Files.)

2. Well I have three opertories and I thought of having a desktop in each room so that I could show our patients photographs of their teeth. I know that these computers will probabley need good video cards to show good quality images.

3. I need a desktop for my private office to do some word documents one, quickbooks, and possibly use the remote desktop function to monitor my network and other computers.

4. Last but not least, I need a server for my network.
I personally like AMD, but I don't know if Intel is better for a server than AMD. This doesn't have to be fancy, but not too slow.

I do not know anyting about networks and would
like your help and suggestions. All help and suggestions are greatfully appreciated.

Please state which specfic hardware you recommend or suggest.

FishingforAMD :) 
January 29, 2006 5:29:11 PM

Are you looking at using wireless or are you going to wire your office?

Are you going to require internet access? emails .... hotspot for clients?
Open or Closed Network? Security is different.

Are you going to to be running applications off the server, or just for a web server?

Just trying to get you think further on your requirments.

Closed networks are pretty simple to setup and manage. Once you open the door for hosting or outside contact (internet), security becomes a head ache.
January 31, 2006 11:07:31 AM

I install/support small business networks for a living.

The first thing that I recommend re-thinking...is you give me the impression you're looking to do this network over wireless, since it's in the wireless forum. I'd highly recommend any network that will be in a business environment...have the main workstations on wired. Leave the wireless for the convenience of non-critcal workstations, like laptop road warriers coming in to synch up their info, etc.

You're probably going to have at least one workstation up at the front desk, running scheduling software. And other workstations in the billing and possibly other imaging components. You want rock steady fast performance for those...two things you don't find in wireless. (OK, some new Pre-N/MIMO hardware is approaching "fast"..but)

Now...design your network around whatever applications you will be running. Do you have your chosen software package yet? Eaglesoft/Patterson? Dentrix? Practice Works? Kodak?

You're at the point of "a peer to peer network" will still work..but grow much more...and you'll want to be on a dedicated "client/server" network. This is where your budget of 7 grand for 5 workstations plus a server will not be very realistic IMO.

My thoughts on a server. It's hard to build a "real" server for under 5 grand. By "real" server...I mean a true server certified machine, with a 3 year warranty, adequate RAM, SCSI hard drives (I only like SCSI drives on a server), a server operating system, CALs for the OS, backup unit/media, backup software, adequate battery backup unit, server grade antivirus, etc.

As for the workstations....Windows XP Pro (not XP Homeless...XP Home does not support a domain environment). 512 megs of RAM mimimum is what I specify for any business workstation. I also believe in full business grade workstations...and you'll average 900 bucks or so per each of these. I prefer to stick with Tier-1 brand hardware...for the ease of support. I never want to support any "mom and pop shop built clones".

Allow me to go step onto the soapbox for a minute..and discuss my opinion of "Tier-1 business grade hardware" versus "the cheaper stuff". By Tier-1...I mean top brands. IBM, HP, Dell. By "Business Grade"...every brand out there sells several different levels of hardware. I'll take Dell for example..since most people are familiar with that brand. Dell has the "Dimension" line of PCs...which is aimed at the home user. Usually just a 1 year warranty box, often stuffed with stuff you don't need/want in a business environment. There are a couple of Dimension models aimed at the small business market. Dell then has the "Optiplex" series...higher quality units, focused more towards the business environment. Less fluffy options, more basic...better quality hardware under the hood designed to run 24/7 for 3 years...hence usually a 3 year warranty. Then the higher end "Precision" workstation line..aimed more at CAD/graphics users, other heavy crunchers.

HP/Compaq is similar...they've had the junky Presario/Pavilion home series, and there's the legendary Deskpro/Evo business grade line. Popular model today, HP Business Desktop dc5000 series and higher. Great computers.

Anyways, my point here...business environment, stick with business grade computers. You'll pay a bit more up front..but believe me, based on my experience in supporting small business networks of all types for many years...you'll come out ahead in the long run. And I'm not saying this from a sales point of view because I want clients to purchase from me, I focus on consulting/labor, I don't do much hardware...I help guide the client in purchase the server/workstations themselves.

Anyways...before going much further...lets answer some questions first...as we need to see which direction you need to go in. The choice is "peer to peer", or "client/server". As I mentioned before...you're had the point in the road...once around 5-6 computers...you generally will outgrow the peer to peer network and need to move towards a client/server. Peer to peer technically is designed to go only up to 10..but in reality..once at the 5-6-ish mark...can get clunky depending on how you're running it. The ultimate decision will be answered by your main software company....you need to design your network around their software, to get their blessing, so they will support their software for you. You need to get them to say "Oh yeah..you can stick with peer to peer", or "Eh..no, unless you're just running 2-3....we'd want to see you run our product on a dedicated server".

Monitors...most dental office software, especially at the front desk with scheduling..you'll want at least 17" monitors...and for appearance and desktop space conservation...LCD. If you're running imaging options, and which to have PCs at your chairs, you'll want LCD monitors there...mounted on wall arm brackets.

Antivirus, besides for the server, for workstations.

Microsoft Office...for workstations.

In addition to the stuff I listed for the server, workstations, monitors, ...think about printers. For accounting....and front desk, speedy..means laserjets. Also dentist offices will usually run several Dymo label printers. Is your office wired yet? Broadband? Business grade router/firewall, with VPN option (preferrably supporting just standard PPTP VPN) so software support can VPN in to support their application.

Not knowing your location, hence whatever consulting rates are in your area...a guesstimate of a realistic price would be a bit over 10 even 12 grand.
Related resources
January 31, 2006 5:45:44 PM

The best advice I could give based on your post is to hire someone to do this for you. You will not be happy with your results if you do not. And adjust your budget, or adjust your needs/requirements/expectations.
March 31, 2010 11:36:16 PM

Say I'm installing all new stations, server,workstations I'm going with server 2008 if I would have questions would you be able to assist with them ? there is only going to be 5 workstations and the server but they may be up to 7 by next year, 1 workstation will be a laptop going wireless. I guess the first question would be security what would be the best for an anti-virus program that works best in that environment?











YeOldeStonecat said:
I install/support small business networks for a living.

The first thing that I recommend re-thinking...is you give me the impression you're looking to do this network over wireless, since it's in the wireless forum. I'd highly recommend any network that will be in a business environment...have the main workstations on wired. Leave the wireless for the convenience of non-critcal workstations, like laptop road warriers coming in to synch up their info, etc.

You're probably going to have at least one workstation up at the front desk, running scheduling software. And other workstations in the billing and possibly other imaging components. You want rock steady fast performance for those...two things you don't find in wireless. (OK, some new Pre-N/MIMO hardware is approaching "fast"..but)

Now...design your network around whatever applications you will be running. Do you have your chosen software package yet? Eaglesoft/Patterson? Dentrix? Practice Works? Kodak?

You're at the point of "a peer to peer network" will still work..but grow much more...and you'll want to be on a dedicated "client/server" network. This is where your budget of 7 grand for 5 workstations plus a server will not be very realistic IMO.

My thoughts on a server. It's hard to build a "real" server for under 5 grand. By "real" server...I mean a true server certified machine, with a 3 year warranty, adequate RAM, SCSI hard drives (I only like SCSI drives on a server), a server operating system, CALs for the OS, backup unit/media, backup software, adequate battery backup unit, server grade antivirus, etc.

As for the workstations....Windows XP Pro (not XP Homeless...XP Home does not support a domain environment). 512 megs of RAM mimimum is what I specify for any business workstation. I also believe in full business grade workstations...and you'll average 900 bucks or so per each of these. I prefer to stick with Tier-1 brand hardware...for the ease of support. I never want to support any "mom and pop shop built clones".

Allow me to go step onto the soapbox for a minute..and discuss my opinion of "Tier-1 business grade hardware" versus "the cheaper stuff". By Tier-1...I mean top brands. IBM, HP, Dell. By "Business Grade"...every brand out there sells several different levels of hardware. I'll take Dell for example..since most people are familiar with that brand. Dell has the "Dimension" line of PCs...which is aimed at the home user. Usually just a 1 year warranty box, often stuffed with stuff you don't need/want in a business environment. There are a couple of Dimension models aimed at the small business market. Dell then has the "Optiplex" series...higher quality units, focused more towards the business environment. Less fluffy options, more basic...better quality hardware under the hood designed to run 24/7 for 3 years...hence usually a 3 year warranty. Then the higher end "Precision" workstation line..aimed more at CAD/graphics users, other heavy crunchers.

HP/Compaq is similar...they've had the junky Presario/Pavilion home series, and there's the legendary Deskpro/Evo business grade line. Popular model today, HP Business Desktop dc5000 series and higher. Great computers.

Anyways, my point here...business environment, stick with business grade computers. You'll pay a bit more up front..but believe me, based on my experience in supporting small business networks of all types for many years...you'll come out ahead in the long run. And I'm not saying this from a sales point of view because I want clients to purchase from me, I focus on consulting/labor, I don't do much hardware...I help guide the client in purchase the server/workstations themselves.

Anyways...before going much further...lets answer some questions first...as we need to see which direction you need to go in. The choice is "peer to peer", or "client/server". As I mentioned before...you're had the point in the road...once around 5-6 computers...you generally will outgrow the peer to peer network and need to move towards a client/server. Peer to peer technically is designed to go only up to 10..but in reality..once at the 5-6-ish mark...can get clunky depending on how you're running it. The ultimate decision will be answered by your main software company....you need to design your network around their software, to get their blessing, so they will support their software for you. You need to get them to say "Oh yeah..you can stick with peer to peer", or "Eh..no, unless you're just running 2-3....we'd want to see you run our product on a dedicated server".

Monitors...most dental office software, especially at the front desk with scheduling..you'll want at least 17" monitors...and for appearance and desktop space conservation...LCD. If you're running imaging options, and which to have PCs at your chairs, you'll want LCD monitors there...mounted on wall arm brackets.

Antivirus, besides for the server, for workstations.

Microsoft Office...for workstations.

In addition to the stuff I listed for the server, workstations, monitors, ...think about printers. For accounting....and front desk, speedy..means laserjets. Also dentist offices will usually run several Dymo label printers. Is your office wired yet? Broadband? Business grade router/firewall, with VPN option (preferrably supporting just standard PPTP VPN) so software support can VPN in to support their application.

Not knowing your location, hence whatever consulting rates are in your area...a guesstimate of a realistic price would be a bit over 10 even 12 grand.

!