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Network infrastructures

Introduction

Network Infrastructures are communication systems, which include a number of physical hardware such as "routers, switches, gateways, bridges, hubs and nodes" that are used to transmit the data within the network. [1] These infrastructures are currently used all over the world with most organisations, for example offices interconnecting employees' computers sharing hardware peripherals such as printers and resources/documents through shared network folders.

Networks can be based on LAN (Local Area Networks), WAN (Wide Area Networks) and VPN (Virtual Private Networks) amongst many others. Depending on the size and limitations of an organisation, a network infrastructure could be premeditated to meet the functions of the organisation.

The purpose of this document is to propose a WAN architecture to improve the current LAN infrastructure of TOYS-4-U, which is based in London as well as new branches to be installed in New York, Istanbul and Delhi. The proposal will include upgrading all of the hardware in the current branch in London, upgrading the server operating systems and adding new services such as IPTV, interactive websites as well as e-commerce sites. Alongside upgrading the London site, New York, Istanbul and Delhi will be installed from scratch; this will allow TOYS-4-U to expand their business globally, where the services such as e-commerce will expand the company's revenues.

Aims Objectives

The Current System

Infrastructure

The current system is based on a "Star wired Bus" network topology connected through coaxial (RG-58) cabling on a 10Base-2 network. 10Base-2 networks allow a communication speed between nodes of up to a maximum of 10Mbps [2] with a maximum cable length of 185 metres. The computers need BNC-T connectors that must be attached to the NICs (Network Interface Cards) in order to allow access to the network [3]. The way the nodes within this network communicate is unique, once the message is sent from one of the nodes it travels through the backbone medium as the message is broadcasted, however it is only the recipient node that accepts and then processes the message [4](Layperson's Guide To Network and Networking, 2004).

The main issue with the network topology running the system is that if the backbone medium of the network corrupts then the whole network will be terminated – causing loss of communication between any of the devices/nodes connected to the network. This is the one of the reasons as to why the new system is to be implemented; as the network is aging the system is failing more often, causing a lack of work done.

Server Operating Systems

The network is currently running on two servers, the operating systems used on these servers are Windows Server 2000 SP4 and Microsoft SQL Server 2000 SP4. Windows Server 2000 is currently running on the latest service pack for its operating system, it is the domain controller for the network running the domain name "toysforu.local" and keeping the computers and users accounts on active directory.

Microsoft SQL Server 2000 is also used in the network; this server is used to keep the database of the stock. As SQL server 2000 is a RDBMS (Relational Database Management System); which allows the users to create relational databases as well as updating them. This means that the tables' organisation within a database does not need changing when the user wishes to access and manipulate the data. [5] TOYS-4-U has been using this server solution to keep track of the stock.

Microsoft Windows 2000 was released on February 17th 2000, as it is the successor to Windows NT 4.0. All of the nodes within the network are running on this operating system as the updates and support is still active where for Windows NT 4.0 was stopped on 30 June 2004. [7]

Current Network Issue

The current network topology is a huge drawback for the company. The "Star wired Bus" topology is not so reliant due to the fact that it is still running as a Bus topology. If the backbone medium breaks, the entire system will be down causing a lot of loss in data and time; which leads to loss of money for the company. The network is currently at a transfer rate of 10Mbps, which is rather slow for such a company. The coaxial RG-58 cables are only used in smaller networks, as they are expensive and difficult to install since the cables are not very flexible and easy to break. Coax RG-58's are also not supported in high end networking standards.

It is a fact that attempting to repair a system like this will take up a large amount of time, as coaxial cables are known to break causing the network to crash. Regardless of this issue, the system will still not allow the employees to work to their full extent. As well as the hardware, the software is also negligible to maintain as the support for Windows Server 2000, Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and Windows 2000 is due to end July 13th 2010. [6] Making this the ideal time to upgrade the system. Most companies will be using more efficient and contemporary software in order to produce competitive designs and allow employees to work more efficiently and effectively. Therefore the network will be completely replaced, from the network topology to the software used (operating system and applications).

TOYS-4-U currently does not have any other branches around the world, which is not helping the company expand their workforce for it to become a worldwide known toy company.

The Proposed System

The proposed system will consist of four geographical sites located in London, New York, Delhi and Istanbul. Due to this factor there were two setups that were considered; traditional wired LAN connected as WAN through the Internet and Cloud Computing. The final network setup that was preferred is to install was the traditional sea physical network at the four locations having a local area network connection within, and interconnect all four networks through the Internet. Each of the LANs will have a File Server (Distributed File System enabled), Print Server, Active Directory, WSUS (Windows Service Update Server), SQL Server and an IPTV Data Network Server. Chapter 6.1 & Chapter 6.2 will be going more into depth of the locations and network infrastructures.

The secondary technology that was considered was "Cloud Computing". This technology allows applications and data being used through a simple web-browser. This means that there is no-need for applications and data to be stored locally on a computer. These could be simple applications like e-mailing or more complex services such as office applications e.g. Google Apps [8]. There are many cloud computing solution providers such as ElasticHosts, Amazon EC2, Google and Microsoft Azure amongst many others. Windows Azure is the latest cloud-computing platform provided by Microsoft. This platform allows applications to be hosted as well as to run them by the Microsoft DataCenters, which are server farms of Microsoft allowing the hosting of applications. The main advantage of this platform is that it allows easy implementation, as there is no need for physical hardware or software licensing. However, a drawback for this type of technology, which cannot be ignored, is that when there is no Internet connection, then there is not anything that can be done. Security is another major issue with cloud computing as the applications and data will be stored on one of the world's largest servers, "So it's horses for courses" [9]. However, due to certain pros such as high availability and scalability of this technology, cloud computing will be implemented for the interactive website and the e-commerce for TOYS-4-U.

Due to the company pursuing their highest potential, the main reason the proposed system was preferred because the company needs to work internally as well as externally. Therefore if there was an Internet connection problem, everything could still be accessed internally and employees could continue with there allocated role. However, since the cloud computing solution for the web hosting will all be in the cloud, clients could access all the data for the reason that everything will be available in the cloud.

Infrastructure

The proposed system will improve in topology, from a coaxial 10Base-T Star wired Bus to an Ethernet 1000Base-T Star network. This network will be cabled using Category 5 (RJ-45) cabling delivering 1Gbps – 100 times faster then the previous network setup [11]. The selected topology is a Star topology where the nodes within the network are arranged similar to a tree, but without running on a physical backbone medium. This topology will be used in all four sites of the WAN. The WAN Network diagram is attached as Appendix 1.

The Servers will be directly connected to the switches. The switches consist of the fibre optic connections coming from the router, which is firewalled and connects directly to the Internet, as it is the default gateway. The nodes within the network are connected to the switch through a patch panel. The wireless routers are also connected to the patch panel. The clients/workstations (running on Windows 7®) will be connecting to the network through the wireless routers and the patch panels. The same network setup applies to all four sites, but with specific servers installed. Each server carries out a different role within the network, the roles for the servers are:

Distributed File System (DFS) will be made use of for the new WAN setup for TOYS-4-U. DFS allows simplified access to files and folders within a global network. This is done through file replication as DFS makes the files available for users over multiple sites. DFS is highly fault tolerant as it transparently routes users to the server that is next available in the case where one server fails. DFS also allows a smart access to files and folders by locating the user to the closest possible server holding the requested file or folder. [10] See Appendix 2 for the DFS setup for TOYS-4-U.

The network infrastructure cabling and setting up for the headquarters in London will be done through Ramesys also providing network support and management. [14](Ramesys, 2009) However, Ramesys do not provide online quotations, therefore the company must be contacted through e-mail or telephone. Ramesys has supplied the infrastructure building and network support for a company (The Gladys Aylward School) known by the proposer (Mehmet Ali Urul). After oral research the price to set-up the network with the cabling and network points as well as management and support by Ramesys adds up to the region of £47,000.00 (3 years). However, this is an approximation, as the company was not contacted directly.

Locations

London: The headquarters for TOYS-4-U's distributed network system lies in London. Replacing the previous network system, this location will hold five physical servers, where one of which will be running four virtual servers in a Hyper-V environment on Windows Server 2008. The file server in this location will hold the master namespace for the DFS. This site will mainly be concentrating on physical advertisement of TOYS-4-U together with New York and Istanbul.

New York & Istanbul: These locations for two of the four sites were chosen because they are among the key advertisement locations. These sites will consist of three physical servers where one of which will be running three virtual servers in a Hyper-V environment. DFS will be enabled within the File and Print servers within these locations.

Delhi: This site will consist of three physical servers, one of which will be running three virtual machines in a Hyper-V environment. The Web Server will be implemented at this site, as this site will be dealing with the online advertisement of the company. The interactive websites for kids and the e-commerce website will be created here. The employees in Delhi will also be looking at SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), which will be making TOYS-4-U become among the first search results in search engines. At the moment, when one is searching for "Toys" through Google, the first website which appears is "Toys-R-Us". The aim is to make TOYS-4-U become the first link to appear within search results. This will increase company status as well as its revenues.

Server Operating Systems

The Server Operating Systems that are chosen for the proposed network are Windows Server 2008 R2, Exchange Server 2007, and SQL Server 2008. Windows Server 2008 R2 was released on 22nd October 2009. This is yet the most highly developed windows server that has been introduced. Allowing complex services available to build and manage the next generation of networking. [12] Client and server virtualisation is now possible using the Hyper-V role within Server 2008. The virtual servers will be created and managed on Hyper-V.

Hyper-V is among the following roles, which will be selected within Server 2008 to run the TOYS-4-U network: File, Print, Active Directory, Domain Controller, DHCP, and IIS. WSUS (Windows Server Update Services) will be installed on the same virtual machine that SQL Server 2008 will be installed. "SQL Server 2008 delivers a rich set of integrated services that enable you to do more with your data such as query, search, synchronize, report, and analyze." [13]

Services

IPTV (Internet Protocol Television)

IPTV systems allow hundreds of TV channels, videos, presentations or any sort media to be viewed on an unlimited amount of computers or televisions as long as they are connected to the LAN. Signals of the video or TV are converted into data streams so that they can pass through the network as other documents and files would. In order to implement the IPTV system, a few hardware resources are needed. IP Encoders, IPTV Data Network and IPTV receivers are among the necessary equipment implement an IPTV system. This will allow videos, presentations and live videos amongst other media to be directly displayed on Plasmas, PCs, Laptops as well as projectors. The Diagram below is an example of TOYS-4-U's IPTV system. [15]

Respectively the system requires certain hardware enabling required queries and functionalities such as switches. Below is a list of requirements to implement and IPTV system taken from an "IPTV based expert company – KlickTV".

"Backbone bandwidth requirement is calculated as the number of channels streamed x bandwidth per channel. Typically channels are streamed at 4 Mbps each for MPEG2. eg for 12 channels the total bandwidth requirement on the backbone is 12x4= 48Mbps. At least one network switch is required to have IGMP Querier functionality. All switches must be multicast enabled- IGMP V2 capability. All switches must be capable of using PIM (Sparse & Dense mode) if VLAN routing is to be implemented. The network equipment should be capable of running QoS if other traffic on the network is likely to threaten the real time delivery of the IPTV data streams. Static IP addresses are preferred for the IPTV equipment. A 100Mbps port is required for each MPEG2 encoder and 3x 100Mbps ports are required for a TV Gateway." www.KlickTV.co.uk

Website (Kid Interactivity and E-Commerce)

The e-commerce for this company will be managed within the site in Delhi, hosting the website and managing it online through Windows Azure cloud computing solution. The Delhi will not have a web server installed, but instead will be using the Windows Azure hosted servers and applications in the "cloud" to implement the websites.

E-Commerce: The employees at the e-commerce site will be creating a database based shopping website which will be accessed directly on 'www.toys4u.com' or through the link on the kids interactivity website on 'www.toys4u.kids.com'. This site will be created and managed within the cloud where the company's web server will coincide along with the applications needed. The database of products and customers details will be held on the SQL server which will not be on the cloud but physical due to the security aspects of cloud computing.

Kids: A website will be created which will be specifically targeting children allowing fun interactivity. These will be games based on toys TOYS-4-U provides. This method will allow kids to meet the products that TOYS-4-U has to offer to customers. Parents realising the effect of the toys can click the "View Toy Details" link on the page which will allow access to the online shopping website of TOYS-4-U.

Network Maintenance

The star topology has been chosen to be implemented for this system, as it is the most robust and one of the most commonly used topologies as well as the most ideal topology to be used. The computer hardware has a 5-year support with next business day on-site service. This covers all the good purchased from Dell (Desktops (including monitors), Printers, Servers, Routers and Switch). The will need a network manager and network technicians to keep the network running smoothly, identifying and renovating the system in the shortest time possible. Ramesys will remotely manage the system if the recommendation is acknowledged, alongside the network maintenance team.

Services

T1Line will provide the Internet to the company as it provides high bandwidth Internet to consumers. A quote has been requested from T1Line but the response has been negative. The company will be paying approximately £75.00 a month for fibre optic Internet connection.

Microsoft® Azure® will be used in India, the quote for this product has been approved online as Appendix 3 and Appendix 4 shows. The quote is made in Indian Rupees costing the company Rs10,223,74.00; that is approximately £141,229.41 for three years of web hosting together with the application.

Conclusion

In conclusion, with clear testimony the previous system for TOYS-4-U was backdated for about a decade as the previous server operating systems and the client operating system proves. It is the best time for upgrading the system since the support for these products are due to end on 13th July 2010. The new server operating system will allow TOYS-4-U to discover and make use of the latest technology such as server virtualisation as well as making use of cloud computing.

The hardware and software along with the services are totally future proof. The servers, switches, routers and desktops are at the high end of technology where all will be updated with driver and service upgrades. The software includes MS Office 2007 with the full package, this will allow the users to view, edit and create office files without the need of a converter and with no hassle as it is the latest version of MS Office. The Star topology will replace the current Star wired Bus topology making it more robust and error proof. Once the proposed network topology is installed the system will become more stable. IPTV is amongst the new services that will be installed for TOYS-4-U allowing video transmission encoded to data and displayed at TOYS-4-U's network locations. IPTV will also allow video conferencing alongside streaming videos. The E-commerce service is a huge step forward in business as more and more businesses are becoming online based. This will increase advertisement (mainly though SEO) as well as revenues as customers could no shop wherever they want as long as they have an Internet connection. The kids Interaction site is a great way to link customers from games to shopping.

The hybrid network system of traditional networking and cloud computing has been carefully selected to provide the company a high-end, fast and reliable system. The cloud computing will allow the data to be available to customers as it is all on the cloud (Internet), however the customers details will be saved on the physical SQL server due to security downfalls within this technology. The proposed network infrastructure suits the company the highest as it rejuvenates the network system from its previous state and will keep TOYS-4-U at the latest technology.

References

  1. http://homepages.uel.ac.uk/u0323318/A10.htm (5th Feb 2010)
  2. http://searchnetworking.techtarget.com/generic/0,295582,sid7_gci1049963,00.html (5th Feb 2010)
  3. http://www.2000trainers.com/cisco-ccna-02/ccna-thinnet-thicknet/ (5th Feb 2010)
  4. Lay Person's Guide To Network and Networking. (2004). Network Topologies – BUS Topology[Online]. Available at: http://homepages.uel.ac.uk/u0330814/bus.html (5th Feb 2010)
  5. http://articles.sitepoint.com/article/sql-server-2000-database (6th Feb 2010)
  6. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsserver/2000/default.aspx (6th Feb 2010)
  7. http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2004/dec04/12-03NTSupport.mspx (6th Feb 2010)
  8. http://www.insight.bt.com/articles/What-is-Cloud-Computing/ (6th Feb 2010)
  9. http://www.bytestart.co.uk/content/15/15_2/cloud-computing-benefits.shtml (6th Feb 2010)
  10. DFS document, Studynet (6th Feb 2010)
  11. http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/1/1000BaseT.html (6th Feb 2010)
  12. http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/product-details.aspx (6th Feb 2010)
  13. http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2008/en/us/overview.aspx (6th Feb 2010)
  14. Ramesys. (2009). Infrastructure Services. [Online]. Available at: http://www.ramesys.biz/Solutions/infrastructureandServices.aspx (6th Feb 2010)
  15. http://www.klicktv.co.uk/iptv/iptv-equipment-prices-and-systems.html
  16. http://www.klicktv.co.uk/iptv/iptv-network-requirements.html


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