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Project essentially demonstrates a Small Office / Home Office network design architecture with minimal functionalities of printer and a server which can be used on a very small scale framework. It shows us the cost effectiveness of any equipment in a network.
Table of Contents
We plan to implement a SoHo network in a school campus where all the basic amenities of networking are accessible like a FTP server, print server, DHCP server, etc. Our main focus would be on security of the entire network, we shouldn't allow any unauthorized person to access the intranet. We would also make sure that the authorized PCs, should not be hindered when making any changes to the network.
For adapting to the basic network model of the SoHo network we should have an overview of the working of the SoHo networks:
LAN adapters: We would be requiring a series of wireless adapters which would allow access to the intranet from anywhere in the campus. It would function as the entry point of user to the network. These adaptors provide an interface between the antenna and the network operating system which controls the whole network. WAN adaptors provide a transparent connection throughout the campus making network accessible to all without any problem.
Access Points: These are the devices to which the user connects when he / she needs to access our SoHo network, it can also be treated as the LAN hub of the wired network. It receives packets from the server and then stores it in its buffer and then transmits it between the wired network and the WLAN by supporting a group of wireless users. (Tips to access points)
Ethernet Cable: It is the wired connection between various devices on the network. They are one of the most essential and primitive requirement of any network. No network can function without the Ethernet cable because it provides high speed data transfer (100 Mbps) and without any interference from the outside radiations.
Network operating system: The operating system controlling the whole working of the network is known as network OS. It is in crude sense is a guide to govern the routing of packets from one place to other. Generally, for SoHo network we use Linux (or any UNIX environment system) but for a professional large scale network there are core OS available like Cisco's iOS.
Office Software: The office software allowed to use in our SoHo network was Open Office. It is a free office service and has essentially all the features required for an Office environment. Open Office is a perfect replacement of a much costly and sometimes overburden, overloaded Microsoft™ Office. (OpenOffice.org is better than Microsoft Office)
(General Network Design)
Testing scene of the SoHo network
Personal Computers: 3
Network Printer: 1
Notebook PC: 1
Desktop PC: 1
Apple AirPort enabled card: 1
Wireless Access Points: 5
Wireless Router: 1
Essential Parameters of the designed network
Yellow light on the switches, hubs and Ethernet card indicates that the connection is perfectly working and it is transmitting all packets successfully. However, to verify the same we did a test run by sending some files from one PC to other via both the wireless and wired connection.
To connect our wireless router to the web or ISP we used a DSL cable which was earlier provided by the service provider. By analyzing the network architecture of the ISP we came to know that they internally had optical fibers installed which provide a maximum speed of 1Gbps.
Properties of the network
The network we designed has following properties:
Standard Compliances were used that had IEEE 802.11b wireless standard and supports LAN speed of 100Mbps. The range for the equipment was 115 m for inside and 550 m for outside. We installed 5 of these wireless access points to control our whole area of the school.
Router was configured to allow DHCP service, i.e. it itself allocates IP to a PC to establish its domain in our SoHo network. By enabling DHCP service the PC connected to the workstation would be up and working as other computers of the network in a fraction of time.
Access of the network
The access method used by the users in the network for utilizing the designed network resources is:
Using IEEE 802.3: 10 Base - T or IEEE 802.3u: 100Base - TX wireless cards.
Minimum 10Mbps LAN speed supported Ethernet cards.
An RJ45 8 - pin connector (CAT 5)
Secured password using WPA2 encryption.
MAC registration function used to prevent unauthorized access.
Power Supply of 100 - 120 Volts was required.
Power Consumption was of 6.9 Watts.
Problems faced during the design of the network
Some of the problems faced and the steps taken to solve the problems are:
Security: We tried to make our SoHo network as secure as possible, for this we made two changes in the main framework.
Using WPA2 encryption instead of WEP encryption as it's not much secure and easily crack able. (Chad D. Mano, 3-6 April 2006)
Using MAC registration technique, i.e. we register all the MAC addresses (unique for each PC) accessing the SoHo network and allow access to only those PCs and disabling all the others.
IP conflict resolution: In a small SoHo network there is not so much problem of IP conflicts but there is quite a possibility of expansion of the network and it may be possible that the problem may become severe. Hence, to resolve the problem we established a DHCP server at our main router which would be allocating the IPs, DNS server and default gateways for all the PCs.
Evaluation of designed SoHo Network
The evaluation is based on the feedback we got from the set of users (#users = 32) which tested our SoHo network.
Average no. of users logging at the same time
DHCP server requests
Importance of the above:
There is high amount of DHCP server request on a given time, it means either the server has too much lag or is disconnecting quite frequently.
Internet access is highly exaggerated hence need to be controlled either by the use of proxy server or limiting the usage bandwidth.
Web server request are not so much high, hence wasting the processing power of it. It can be used for other services.
Internet outgoing server and DHCP Server is one of the prime concerns to be taken care of because these two are handling much more request than they are designed for.
Hence, either we can shift the DHCP server with the Web Server to utilize its unused processing power or buy another server to control the needs.
A periodic check is required to constantly monitor both of the above.
Q1. Is the network reliable? (Working 24x7 and with what efficiency?)
Yes: 71 %
No: 20 %
No change: 5 %
Can't say: 4%
Q2. Is accessible in all areas of the campus?
Yes: 29 %
No, certain areas have very low connectivity: 36 %
No, cannot even connect in certain areas: 35 %
Q3. Do you have any trouble accessing network?
Yes, internet is slow: 17 %
Yes, authentication problem: 22 %
No: 61 %
Q4. Do security measures implemented at the network makes you feel safe?
Yes: 21 %
Yes, but make some rules easy (give suggestions if any): 29%
No, it is making life much more difficult: 41 %
Can't Say: 9 %
Q5. What are the most important design requirements for the new network?
Speed: 11 %
Security: 5 %
Any Other: 20%
Q6. Are restrictions of the proxy server suitable for you?
Yes: 26 %
No : 33%
Can't Say: 41 %
Let's examine the total cost to build the designed SoHo network
Air Connect Router
Wireless LAN card
Hub / Switches
CAT 5 Ethernet cables
Any problems still left to be tackled
Some of the problems are:
Speed is slow (5 - 10 Mbps) which is not recommended. But if we try to increase speed by spending more on equipment, the cost would be too much to handle.
Regular MAC up gradation not possible, i.e. we want to run the SoHo network on its own, we have to regularly update the MAC access table which is currently done manually. However, if auto up gradation allowed then unauthorized changes could occur.
Prevent access outside the boundary region of the campus.
Essential points of the test run in the campus:
Printer able to handle request and do not hang when needed.
Zero downtime for the entire network during the test run.
All accessing PCs are authorized by concerning parties.
Nearly no delay while accessing the intranet.
Auto update of Firewall, antivirus and servers enabled making them less prone to new developing attacks.
Router able to process the request without any hassle. Plenty of room to expand the network horizon for new users.
Access points were successfully working with authentication without any problem of connectivity. However, the speed of the wireless connection is slow when tested in comparison with the wired network.
Accessibility for users:
FTP server hosted on the Router, user is provided with a login id and password by which he can download the files. Upload permissions is however restricted to the Admin users only.
Web server: It is hosted on its dedicated server because it requires high processing power and users are allowed to see the files without any permission.
SMTP server: Users are provided with their own email ids by an SMTP server at its own dedicated server.
Future expansion of the current SoHo network is possible, but not to a large extent as the network is specifically designed to work in a small area. But if you still want to expand the SoHo network, we need extra switches, hubs, routers and WAPs. In turn it will lead to a new design of the whole architecture of the network from scratch. Hence, it is recommended not to expand the current network but use a full-fledged working network to encompass the facilities needed and improve upon it on a smaller area using the SoHo network.
The design of a new network would start from setting up the router, to establishing a topology then we would be considering an average number of users of our network considering the peak hours. Total new sets of switches, hubs, and bridges are required then interconnecting them to build a whole new network system. And implementing our SoHo network as a part of the whole network is possible by connecting the outgoing cable from our Wireless router to any switch or router of the newly designed network.
The maintenance schedule for the current designed SoHo network is as follows:
Type of Maintenance
No. of Days
Network bandwidth usage metric check and verification of unauthorized access attempts.
Log of Antivirus Software
Log at Router
Change of password for all the access points and the routers
Access Point reconfiguration and unused MAC addresses removal.
Server log verification
Routing table optimization
The main aims of SoHo network are:
To analyze the working of a big network.
To create a VNC for special purposes.
To create a private server for confidentiality.
SoHo networks are not an entire network to work on, it is a part of a network on which we can see the impacts and the behavior of the system. Hence, security of the SoHo network is one of the prime concerns of all the network designers. Also, SoHo networks are not the core to the network hence it would be pretty much infeasible to spend a luxurious amount of money of the costly applications whereas we can compensate its working by some free and open source services.