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Small Network for an English School with Domain, How to?

Last response: in Networking
August 18, 2010 3:29:13 PM

Hello there, here's the problem I have right now.

I'm a Web Developer/Programmer, but my knowledge regarding infrastructure is very minimal, My uncle just bought an old school with the purpose of turning it into an English School (I live in Dominican Republic - Spanish Speaking Country) and he desperately wants me to the IT guy. Me not knowing much about networks have a set of questions that hopefully some of you guys can ask.

The building has a weird structure which seems to be the main problem regarding internal wiring. I have created an "illustration" of how the building looks like and the amount of computers per classroom/office that it'll have and hopefully someone could me point me in right direction, regarding equipments and wiring, Also note that it has 2 level of offices (the bottom part of the "illustration") so it'll be the same for level 2.

The main question i have is, how many Ethernet cables are suppose to travel through the walls? I mean how does the wiring works? If you take a look at the map, the machine room (Where the hub will be) is in the middle does this means that for example X Ethernet wires will travel to through the walls on the left (X in this case is the amount of computers to the left which is 7 ) or how exactly does it work?

Also notice that there is a computer lab with 15 computers on the right side, which are my options regarding wiring the lab? Do i need to have a ANOTHER switch over there? Or sending enough cables from the machine room through the walls for the computer lab is enough? Also notice the cafeteria is in the other side, how would you wire that?

Feel free to modify the diagram if you feel so.

The other set of questions is regarding the kind of equipment i'll need in terms of hardware (Routers, switches) how many and what how many ports switches do i need in order to accomplish what i need? Also do need a windows server 2008 machine to handle the accounts in order to make a "domain" right? (I know very VERY little about AD and sorts)

I'm willing to read whatever you throw at me, so please feel free to link resource and such.

Here's the illustration:

PD: Really sorry for the wall of text, i tried to give as much explanation as possible.e
August 18, 2010 7:43:46 PM

By "machine room" do you mean IT equipment room? If there is actually machine in that room, there might be some interference with cables/IT equipment in that room.

Takes note that Cat5/6 have a maximum length of 100m. If you need to go further then that, then you'll have to add a repeater/switch somewhere in the middle.

About the Office room, running cables from the machine room might be the easiest way.

For the lab, I would run one cable from the machine room to a new switch in the lab. That way you don't have the trouble of running 15+ cables through the walls.

For the cafeteria, maybe you can run a cable in a straight line in the ceiling? beware of neons, they interfere with cat5/6.

As for the second floor, the best practice says to have at least one IT room per floor and, if possible, on top of each other to cut on cable length.

About the number of equipment you need, it all depends on what you do. You have to have at least the exact number of port available as the number of node you have in the building. Its always nice to have some spared one in case one fail, or some new nodes appear. So, at the bear minimum, 1 switch in each of your IT room, 1 switch in each of your lab. That makes it 4. Put a router where your internet comes from (if you have any).

Each node need to have a cat5/6 connected to it. Printer too.

For the domain, you have to have a windows server (whatever version you want). Another option for you would be to go with linux as the main server. Use nis to authenticate if you don't need windows workstation. If you do, use LDAP.

Hope it answers all your question
August 20, 2010 3:42:37 PM

Do you need a domain or can you just get away with using local accounts ?
The easiest solution would be to go wireless and just use local accounts.

Setting up a network and a domain is a fairly complex task as you have to have knowledge of how to configure switches, install DNS, set up DHCP, configure a firewall, install Active Directory ......

If these PCs simply need internet access I would go wireless and maybe buy a NAS to store all the files. You can also buy printers that connect to the wireless network, I use an HP Officejet at home and it works great.

I am an I.T consultant who has been working with Active Directory for 10 years and know how complex it can get :-/
August 20, 2010 6:32:28 PM

To answer your main question, Ethernet wiring usually takes place before the building is finished and travels hidden through floors, walls etc and ends in wall sockets strategically placed in areas where you would need network connectivity. Pretty much like electricity wiring. It all ends up in a switch inside a data center as you say "machine room'.

For your case, since such infrastructure is not available things could get messy with too many wires having to travel on top or through walls and that could involve big costs and a mediocre result. As previous poster said you could try use wireless access points but that would also require some research as these tend not to have much range and don't provide a very reliable infrastructure. There are cabling companies specializing in Ethernet wiring which you could bring to school to have a look at the building and give you some insight on how it could be done and a rough cost estimate.

How many switches and ports you need depends on the number of machines you need connected. Apart from the desktops, you will need at least a switch, a router for the internet connection and a server with win 2008 for the AD.