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We're expanding our network. Advice please...

Last response: in Networking
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December 15, 2003 4:11:40 PM

i work at a school and we're adding a new wing over the summer. the pres of the school asked me if we're gonna need a room added to the plans for network expansion. (another server room) right now we have one small server room that services our 800 users/350 clients. the new wing would be well over 300ft from the current room. isnt that the limit for cat5 cabling? they have mentioned wireless. how tough would it be to integrate that into our current 2k wired network? any input is welcome...

Too much agreement is like too many fat guys in a hottub; it's still relaxing, but you end up with some nasty broth.
December 16, 2003 1:09:30 AM

Max segment length for Cat5 is 100meters, yea. Wireless is probably not a good choice for that application. You could consider using a repeater of some sort, positioned somewhere in the middle of that 100 meter stretch.
December 17, 2003 12:19:37 AM

Bite the bullet, install a fiber backbone to connect the new wing. If more expansion happens you'll be prepared. Start doing streaming video and what not, the fiber will work well. It'll cost more, but you'll never have to worry about that being the problem.
You can mess around with repeaters and put more hardware between point A and point B only to increase potential problems, run fiber you won't have a worry.

Riser
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December 17, 2003 1:07:39 AM

so i could run a fiber line from the current router etc to the new one? they really want wireless there. we just met today. how much $$ are we talkin...

Too much agreement is like too many fat guys in a hottub; it's still relaxing, but you end up with some nasty broth.
December 17, 2003 2:08:02 AM

wireless wouldn't be a great option, fiber you would have to pay for the equipment and find out how much it would cost for them to run it. offhand I don't know, but you're looking at minimum 400 dollars.
now wireless at over 300 feet, you would need to put an access point somewhere between and unless you went with .11a or .11g, the bandwidth might not support what you're trying to do.
what will be the main focus of the new wing, software/network wise?

Riser
December 17, 2003 2:44:05 AM

damn, now im really confused. the wing will be 5 science labs. the pres of the school envisions supplying them with laptops. there wouldnt be any network use that is out of the ordinary.... just really internet acces and access to their network folders.

when i spoke with them today, i told them id need a room to contain the access pt and router. thats not a prob. $$ really isnt either... i told them to figure ~$10,000 for a wireless router and access pt.

Too much agreement is like too many fat guys in a hottub; it's still relaxing, but you end up with some nasty broth.<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by tdean on 12/16/03 11:46 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
December 17, 2003 9:04:07 PM

$10,000 US Dollars??? If it's US money and you can get that much, have someone come in, install fiber and run your access point off that.
Considering it's a science lab, I would expect you have thick walls, possibly concrete blocks or cylinders at least 6-8 inche thick? You're not going to have much luck getting a wireless signal through those.

Then you'll have to supply wireless cards for everyone's laptop and have to troubleshoot them when they can't connect.
I would recommend the fiber to the wing and running network feeds to the rooms and/or wire up each seat - or you can put an access point in each room but then you're going to need to configure all the security to keep out someone wanting to use your network as a starting ground for illegal use.
Wireless isn't a solution for wiring, it's a compromise. You're better off laying the wiring, running fiber over the 300+ feet.
You'll have to 'daisy chain' your access points to get your signal strength to the rooms.

Wire up the rooms and add the option of wireless in them by having an AP connected to your wired network, probably in each room.
In my opinion, that's your best option.

Riser
December 17, 2003 9:17:24 PM

well, the problem now, is that the only room for the access point is in the basement floor. it would have to service that floor and two above it. and yes, the walls are concrete. will this even work? im not a huge fan of this wireless talk, but they really want me to find a way to do it. i like your idea about wiring the whole place and adding access points to the rooms if they want to use wireless.
the budget is ~$10,000. so, id run the fiber from the existing router? to the new room/switches and then run cat5 (or whatever the new standard is) up to each room? they seem to glorify wireless as the "wave of the future". not me.

Itchy and Scratchy #1325,Itchy plays Scratchy's skeleton like a xylophone; strikes the same rib twice but clearly 2 different notes sound. are we to believe that this is some sort of magic xylophone?
December 19, 2003 3:29:49 PM

I thought I had answered this, but more than likely the wireless signal would not be able to travel to the other floors. You would wnat to have an AP on each room, connecting to one another. But if one should fail closer to the wiring, your entire network drops. Wiring doesn't have this problem.
You'll have to run wiring to each room, connect in an AP in each room. Fiber has special hardware that it needs to convert from fiber to cat5/6 cabling. That's the expensive part, but it will easily fall under $10,000.

Wireless is the future, but today isn't it's future.

You'll need the backbone to be fiber from the main server to the wing, from there the fiber hardware will convert it to standard category cabling. You could run it into a switch for that matter, then run your cabling up the walls into each room where you can connect your APs.

Riser
December 19, 2003 8:24:08 PM

assuming the existing router can handle fiber. if it doesnt have one now you should be able to get a card insert for maybe 800.

wpdclan.com cs game server - 69.12.5.119:27015
December 19, 2003 9:57:58 PM

Easily falls in that 10 grand budget. :) 

Riser
December 22, 2003 5:27:37 AM

the card is the least of concern. running fiber is NOT cheap. they might be able to run it above ground. that would be the easyest.

wpdclan.com cs game server - 69.12.5.119:27015
January 5, 2004 2:02:48 PM

IMHO wireless in this scenario is a bad decision. With 350 clients you don't have a lot of bandwidth available, and nothing left for growth. With that budget you can run a fiber connection between the main points as a backbone and then put out access points where needed for the wireless. Wireless (except for custom stuff) is at ~55 Mbs and a fiber can run at 1000Mbs+ (depending on type even 10Gbs). That will make your students and staff complain a lot less about "the internet not working" :) 

Dev

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January 6, 2004 2:01:46 PM

"With that budget you can run a fiber connection between the main points as a backbone and then put out access points where needed for the wireless. Wireless (except for custom stuff) is at ~55 Mbs and a fiber can run at 1000Mbs+ (depending on type even 10Gbs)."

that seems to be the way i was thinking. they absolutely want to make it happen. i figure a fiber line from the orig server, to a new server room, then wire all the rooms, but then put access pts in the rooms?

as far as bandwidth. we have a t1 line and sometimes only 15 or so users on it. that number goes up to 100max at one time. do you think that would be a problem?

Itchy and Scratchy #1325,Itchy plays Scratchy's skeleton like a xylophone; strikes the same rib twice but clearly 2 different notes sound. are we to believe that this is some sort of magic xylophone?<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by tdean on 01/06/04 11:03 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
January 6, 2004 11:20:58 PM

you should only need one wiring closet in the new building, if its not too big. if you need two, i would run two fiber lines to the new building from the main. and run the two wiring closets and the existing switch rack into a fiber switch. then plug that switch into the router. thats the best way to do it. if your already paying them to run fiber, might as well run some extra for further expansion.

wpdclan.com cs game server - 69.12.5.119:27015
January 8, 2004 12:21:49 PM

i am curious, and this might be stupid, but if we add a fiber backbone, are we going to have to install new nics to take advantage of it?

Itchy and Scratchy #1325,Itchy plays Scratchy's skeleton like a xylophone; strikes the same rib twice but clearly 2 different notes sound. are we to believe that this is some sort of magic xylophone?
January 20, 2004 8:26:56 PM

No new NIC's will be needed, all the fibre will run into the switches at each end.
The idea of fibre to the new building and cat 5e to the rooms is good. If they want WIFI so bad then it would be best to put an AP in each room. T1 is, what, 1.5 Mb/s, so over 100 that gives 15Kb/s each for your users at maximum load. That would be fine. Almost isdn speed each. (I work in primary schools in the UK. a lot of them just have ISDN for the school of maybe 15+ computers. not good at all. (But were moving to BB with 2Mb lines now ‘.’ ))
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