Small Business Server Set Up ?'s

Dell Optiplex 330 desktop desktop (intel...
July 23, 2009 at 10:23:19
Specs: Windows XP, Intel Core 2 Duo E7300 2.66 GHz Processor/2.98 GB Ram
Hello all,

I've recently become a big fan of this site. I am not very familiar with computer language and acronyms, but I've set up multiple small, simple networks in friend's houses, businesses I've worked, etc. My experience is mostly with just routers and switches, but my new job would like me to set up the new network in our office with a server.

I have no real experience with dedicated servers. Only workstations serving as a host computer. I figure there is not too much difference, but I was just looking for some advice on server hardware and server OS. We are looking to use the server for maybe some routing purposes, but mostly storage (I'm not sure how routers and switches fit into all of this. Because I thought I read that servers could be used for routing purposes, though I could easily be wrong, and you wouldn't have the ports for it using just a regular desktop like we are planning on doing). We have a Dell Optiplex 330 to use as the server with XP already loaded on. The specs are:

Intel Core 2 Duo E7300 2.66 GHz processor
2.98 GB of RAM
and a 250GB hard drive

With growth factored in for the next few years the network would consist of 12-15 computers, most are the Dell Optiplex series with a few Vostro all running XP, and 3-4 printers.

Also, at the new office we are moving into there are already at least 30 wires run throughout the entire building, connecting to patch panels in the server room. Everything is labeled showing what connections are which ports in the panels. However, I have no experience with those and no clue where to begin setting up routers/switches/servers with patch panels. Some patch panels even have line running between them. Do patch panels work similarly to switches, or is it a completely different ballgame?

We also have some leftover hardware from a fall through deal with another company. We have a Cisco Catalyst 2950 24 port switch as well as a couple 8 port Cisco ASA 5505. Would these be decent for our network. I know using all of them might be overkill, though the building is wired with dozens of lines, so maybe not. But should I look into something more advanced, or will I even need those switches with the patch panels?(Again, I am not sure how patch panels fit into a network set up.)

I might be repeating myself with this last little bit, as I'm sure I have in this entire post, but finally(the questions just keep coming I know) I am trying to figure out what falls where in the network set up? For example, would the server be connected to the router with the switch for all the other computers? Would it be on the switch with the computers? If I use the patch panels would they replace the switch? I plan on getting a firewall and that would be placed between the router and the modem I would imagine, but am I even correct in that assumption?

I apologize for the discontinuity and lack of detail, but I really do appreciate any and all help. Thank you for your time and cooperation in advance!

~Leggy

I feel that I could set this up once I get a better understanding of how some of these components I've never worked with are used. I've been reading a lot trying to piece things together and it's just not coming to me. I could just be making it all much more difficult than it needs to be. Again, thanks in advance.

There are three ways to do things, the right way, the wrong way and my way, which is the wrong way, only faster.


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#1
July 23, 2009 at 10:46:19
However, I have no experience with those and no clue where to begin setting up routers/switches/servers with patch panels.

You would want to setup all servers, routers, and switches in the wiring closet. Hopefully you have some kind of rack to mount those devices in. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, go to APC's web site and look over some "server racks" or google that and look there.

Some patch panels even have line running between them. Do patch panels work similarly to switches, or is it a completely different ballgame?

Patch panels are just termination points for the cables that run through the walls to the outlets in the offices.

Your wiring closet is basically a distribution center. That's why I said above to put servers, routers, and switches in the server room if that's where your patch panels are.

Server's plug into the switch(es). Clients also plug into the switch.

The switch connects to your router and/or firewall and then your external connection. This allows the clients to communicate over the LAN with each other and servers and also have external (internet) access.

A simple look is as follows:

Internet >> firewall >> router >> switch(es) >> servers/clients

We also have some leftover hardware from a fall through deal with another company. We have a Cisco Catalyst 2950 24 port switch as well as a couple 8 port Cisco ASA 5505. Would these be decent for our network

I'm not familiar with the ASA 5505's but I've worked with 2950's quite a bit.

If you know cisco's IOS and are able to configure a managed switch, then yes, use the 2950. Especially if it provides enough ports for your needs. If however, you don't know cisco's IOS, you're not going to be able to configure it.

The big question is, do you require a managed switch? If not, you could buy a 24 or 48 port, unmanaged, switch and use it instead as it doesn't require the same knowledge level to manage.


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#2
July 23, 2009 at 11:01:10
Curt R,

Thanks for you timely and very knowledgeable response.

As far as the managed switch decision. What would be the advantages of a managed switch? Is it just more control over definitions for IP's and ports to servers/clients, or is there some other function I am not aware of?

There are three ways to do things, the right way, the wrong way and my way, which is the wrong way, only faster.


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#3
July 23, 2009 at 11:15:26
You can't have more than 10 connections to a server running xp pro. Xp home is limited to 5 connections. You need a server OS like 2003/2008 with 15 clients of which none can be xp home.

Workstation is simple compared to server so you are in for quite the training curve if setting up a real server and Active Directory.

Stay away from routing on the server. It is complex when you need simple. Let your router do the routing.

A managed switch has more features like being able to look at the port log to see if there are send/receive issues or more.


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#4
July 24, 2009 at 07:00:21
Thanks for the reply wanderer.

So, windows server OS 2003/2008 with only XP Pro. That helps a ton as far as preliminary set up. I appreciate you taking time to reply and thanks to you both for contributing.

Hope to speak to you again soon,
Leggy

There are three ways to do things, the right way, the wrong way and my way, which is the wrong way, only faster.


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#5
July 24, 2009 at 07:46:28
As far as the managed switch decision. What would be the advantages of a managed switch?

As well as what wanderer said, this particular switch is VLAN capable. But in a small environment, VLAN's are really not likely to be needed.

Other things that can be done with a managed switch that you can't with an unmanaged one would be:
- enable/disable a port remotely
- set port speed and duplex



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