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Migration from P2P to new client-server architecture

Last response: in Networking
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December 10, 2012 2:30:31 PM

Dear community members,

we are civil-engineering company that has started a year ago. We are 50 in the office, and currently, we are working with the minimal possible network setting:

1- A wireless (cheap) router
2- P2P network composed of: Laptops using wifi, some workstations linked to a switch (linked to the router)
3- For emails, we use gmail and cloud-based email service we bought from our ISP
4- Everyone is assuming the responsibility/administration of his own PC (antivirus, firewall, software licenses...)

Until now everything works just fine. But I have to convince my boss to migrate to a server architecture that contains at least the following elements:
-A domain controller (Windows Server 2008 + Active Directory)
-An email server (Windows Server 2008 + Exchange)
-A file sharing server (Windows Server 2008 + sharepoint)


All of this seems to be very expensive, given that we are doing just fine now.

Also I am reading lately mixed reviews about this "classical" network architecture. Some argue that all of this is unnecessary and rather opt for cloud services (email, file sharing,...). I also wonder if the benefits of hiring network administrators and Active directory consultants to maintain and resolve server incidents 24h/24h are worth the investment.

Could you guys please advise me because I need to have a keen mind before I take any decision.

Thank you .

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December 10, 2012 3:32:47 PM
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This gets hard to say for a small company. The performance gain of running a server onsite is going to be huge. When you look at the time to transfer a 50m file going from a number of minutes to a number of seconds. Pretty much the same for email, instant delivery between users. It all depends how much of this you do. If you never deal with large amounts of data the cloud solutions may perform about as well.

The largest concern I would think would be storing your data where the cloud company themselves could examine it. If you keep it in your building you have much more control over who can look at stuff.

Money wise cloud stuff is likely cheaper for a small company that does not have inhouse skills to maintain a server. Someone who has the skills or is a little larger I suspect even with the high initial start up costs of buying a server it will still be cheaper than cloud based stuff in the long run. You also have to factor in any increases to your internet costs. If you were to buy a commercial grade internet connection that has guaranteed service levels on it will be much better than the best effort most people are buying. It works very well until the day it does not and the ISP explaining to you what "best effort" means does not fix your problem.
December 11, 2012 2:21:00 PM

Thank you bill ;) 

Privacy indeed is an issue.. And also sometimes we find it laborious to deal with large files (*.tiff with size over 800mb), so we transfer it by usb disks...

Could you please advise me if one person only will suffice to manage the architecture (AD + Exchange)? Besides, If we want to have our internal mail server (Exchange), is it necessary that the domain controller (AD) be present in the network?

Thank you!
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December 11, 2012 2:23:32 PM

Best answer selected by anime9999.
December 11, 2012 4:00:59 PM

anime9999 said:
Thank you bill ;) 

Privacy indeed is an issue.. And also sometimes we find it laborious to deal with large files (*.tiff with size over 800mb), so we transfer it by usb disks...

Could you please advise me if one person only will suffice to manage the architecture (AD + Exchange)? Besides, If we want to have our internal mail server (Exchange), is it necessary that the domain controller (AD) be present in the network?

Thank you!


Depends how much you are going to pay the person. A good person could do this by themselves but they may actually get bored running such a small site. You could get someone that only knows part of it.

Best bet is to buy the server "managed" from someone like Dell or HP ...ie the maker of the server. You would in effect rent part of a employee from one of these companies. They have lots of option they can have a person on site or do everything remotely.
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