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Part A: Network Assessment
The current network setup is compartmentalized. For the 20 employees there are 6 computers and two printers. The primary printer is located in the office, but only connected to the assistant’s computer. Kyle’s assistant is often treated as a print queue, being emailed documents to be printed with a turnaround time of up to four hours, which impacts productivity.
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The primary connection to the network is an 8-port switch, connecting all of the 6 computers through Ethernet, but limiting the network to a peer-to-peer network. The pre-1999 switch most likely does not adhere to the 802.3 standard, which includes many modern speed enhancements and security updates. The peer-to-peer network limits the resources to simple sharing of files. Connected directly to the laptop is a dot-matrix printer that goes mostly unused in favor of the laser printer. The dot-matrix printer uses expensive ribbons for printing that are essentially obsolete and produce significantly lower quality print jobs at the cost of speed and reliability.
The internet connection comes in through a router provided by Nation Online, connected directly to Kyle and his assistant’s computers from the router switch. This provides a high-speed connection to those computers, but to none of the others in the company. It also opens up these two key computers to potential exposure to hacking and viruses from the internet.
Security in the office is assumed but not guaranteed. The ISP may or may not be providing a firewall, which is a critical network component that prevents outside intrusion on the network. Security/antivirus software is an overlooked necessity on the network. Two of the computers are connected to the internet, as well as the peer to peer network. This opens them all up to attack. From a physical security perspective, the only security involved is that Kyle ensures he locks the doors. If he is not present, there may not be a guarantee that this takes place, and if he forgets, the office is compromised.
Even if Kyle did not have the idea of expanding his business, the network is in dire need of improvements. Security needs to be improved to protect assets. The infrastructure needs to be improved to securely connect all devices, removing the need for one-off workarounds. The outdated hardware needs to be replaced as end of life, and to increase employee productivity.
Part B: Problem/Solution Table
Your problem solution table should highlight the major deficiencies with the current network and provide a concise solution for each. Include future considerations in relation to the New Network Needs Section of the scenario in problem/solution format. Especially consider all aspects of security for the network and infrastructure.
Install 3 servers, one providing storage/backups, shared connections to printers, and internet access. Another for the CRM database application, and the third for his accounting application.
Limited Internet Availability
Centralizing resources and sharing connection will improve productivity, allowing the requirements of the expansion to be met.
Replace the switch with an updated one, connected to the server as well for speed, security, and sharing.
Replace the Windows XP devices with updated workstations, with a current OS, providing necessary software and security support.
No security software
Upgrading systems to modern OS will allow the installation of current security software releases.
Adding antivirus software will help protect the network from attacks
Unknown firewall presence
Install a firewall. All networks should be protected from outside intrusion.
Change locks to automatic locking systems to ensure doors are always locked. Install an alarm system to protect the premises.
Needed for an e-commerce site
With new employees, 2 desktops and 4 laptops should be purchased. Laptops will give the three field reps greater mobility and flexibility. The 4th will be in the fundraiser division
Replace dot-matrix printer with a new printer, either laser or inkjet, and purchase one for fundraiser division
Once the CRM database/application has been developed/deployed network security will be even more important. Consider some kind of Active Directory application.
Part C: Proposal Document
Project Justification – The business is expanding, requiring the expansion and updating of the network infrastructure to meet the needs and growth of the business. The employees require a streamlined process, allowing for field sales agents to get orders out to the floor with the least amount of delay. The business itself requires improved security to protect itself as it continues to grow and draws attention from potential external threats.
Project Goals –
1) Centralized resources
- Removes the dependency on a single individual to complete a basic task, streamlining the process. Goal is met when process goes from order to completion without delays caused by resource requirements.
2) Increased network security
- Protecting company secrets and financial information. Goal is met when an IT policy is created and tested successfully, to include hardware and software implementations.
3) Expansion potential
- The installation of infrastructure that can support current needs, as well as additional requirements with minimal extra effort and installations. Goal is met when current needs are met, with additional resources available.
The improvements required for the expansion require a substantial cost, as much of the current infrastructure needs to be replaced. 5 desktops and a laptop in the current setup need to be replaced, it may be wise to consider adding the additional 2 workstations to the office, a laptop for the warehouse, and the 3 laptops for the sales reps. This will allow for the additional employees right away to speed the ROI. Looking for replacements, the Lenovo C40 is a decent low end computer that offers a 1.8 Ghz processor, 8 GB ram, Windows 8.1, 1 TB storage, and a DVD drive. The estimated cost is $484.50 (Amazon, 2016). For the portable professional laptops, the Lenovo ThinkPad E450 provides all the functionality required. These cost roughly $379.00 (NewEgg, 2016). For the first server, the HP ProLiant MicroServer is a good choice. It costs about $770.99 (Newegg, 2016). The ISP will be suitable for the current services, but will need to be connected through a firewall into the server, then from the server to a new switch. The new switch could be upgraded to a 16 port Gigabit Ethernet switch. Netgear makes one that costs about $84.99 (Newegg, 2016) A second laser printer should be installed to meet the additional productivity needs adding an additional cost ranging from $200 and up. Adding VPN connectivity for field agents to securely connect remotely will result in yearly costs ranging from free (open source), to $8.31/month/user for vyprvpn (vyprvpn, 2016). Internet security software for the business, including malware protection, will likely run in the range of $289.95/year the current hardware configuration, excluding any promotional or business discounts that may be available at the time of implementation. Total estimate of upgrade costs is, at a minimum, $7100.00 for upgrades.
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With the upgrades indicated in this proposal, any compatibility issues with current infrastructure will be removed, as the infrastructure is essentially being replaced. Given the current age of the systems, this is a necessary step to provide the best security and long term compatibility. These upgrades will also add in the potential for further expansion, and the ability for additional field agents to be brought onboard with minimal effort.
Goal 1 Options (Centralized resources):
1) Change current switch configuration
- Advantage: Centralized resources and internet access without additional hardware.
- Disadvantage: Security issues due to dated hardware.
- Disadvantage: Network speeds slowed due to exclusion of modern protocols.
2) Upgrade switch
- Advantage: Faster network speeds with new protocols
- Advantage: Increased security
- Disadvantage: Still using security-risk prone computers
- Disadvantage: Compatibility issues may arise between new switch and old devices.
3) Upgrade infrastructure
- Advantage: Increased speed and security
- Advantage: Flexibility for growth
- Advantage: Future compatibility
- Disadvantage: Cost
Goal 1 Proposed Solution:
Given the expansion potential, and the all-around enhancements to security and productivity, the proposed solution is a full infrastructure upgrade. The ultimate goal of the business is growth, and that goal can only be met if all of the infrastructure is enhanced to meet the needs of the company today and looking forward 5+ years. The ROI will be seen in increased productivity and sales.
Goal 2 options (Increased Network Security):
1) Keep current switch configuration
- Advantage: No additional costs.
- Disadvantage: Still using dated hardware.
- Disadvantage: Requires strict IT policy and workplace changes to protect assets.
- Disadvantage: No internet access, creating delays processing orders from field sales.
2) Install security software
- Advantage: Higher level protection for connected devices
- Disadvantage: No guarantee current systems will continue to be supported.
3) Infrastructure upgrades listed above
- Advantage: State of the art security.
- Disadvantage: Cost
Goal 2 Proposed Solution:
As indicated in the first goal, the current infrastructure cannot meet the needs for best practices in network security while providing the best productivity and options for growth. The best option to propose is a full upgrade.
Goal 3 Options (Expansion Potential):
1) Keep current configuration
- Advantage: Cost
- Disadvantage: Stagnated or stalled growth
2) Incremental upgrades
- Advantage: Cost over time
- Disadvantage: Business growth may see delays as upgrades are performed, and new workflows are learned.
3) Full infrastructure upgrade
- Advantage: Immediate flexibility for growth.
- Disadvantage: Cost, and downtime as upgrades are performed.
- Counterpoint to disadvantage: One-time business downtime as opposed to periodic shutdowns in incremental upgrades.
Goal 3 Proposed Solution:
As indicated in the previous goals, the most prudent course of action is the proposed infrastructure upgrade. Instead of incremental changes that could lead to downtime interfering with a spike in orders, the best course of action is to take the downtime up-front while business is not reliant on the increased potential, allowing for the follow-up to make up for the downtime over the course of the subsequent business effort.
Solution Summary –
Impact – The project as proposed will lead to a significant change in the business. The employees will need to have faster access to resources to be able to keep up with the increased orders that come from a business expansion. The proposed upgrade will meet the need of the expanding business, and provide opportunity for future growth. The increases in productivity and remote sales capability will provide rapid growth opportunities that both justify the upgrade, and require it. The only negative impact that can be currently projected, is the downtime required to install the upgrades. While it may shut down the business for a day or two, this downtime will be compensated for when the services are brought online and the growth can be realized. The downtime could be planned for off hours, say over the course of a weekend.
Lenovo C40 = $484.50 (7) = $3391.50
Lenovo ThinkPad E450 $379.00 5 (1 for each warehouse, 1 for each sales rep) $1895
HP ProLiant MicroServer $770.99
Netgear switch $84.99
Printer $200 2 (1 for each warehouse) $400
VPN 8.31/month/person (3) 99.72/year each = 299.16
Security software $289.96/year
Grand total rough estimate $7131.60
Project schedule estimate
Feb 1, kick off
Feb 3-8 gather requirements, decide on options, equipment, vendors of choice
Feb 11-15 outline new network design and configuration
Feb 11-15 draft security and acceptable use policies for new network
Feb18- 22 gain approval of designs, equipment and policies
Feb 25-May 13 Order and take delivery of new equipment
Feb 25-May 13 Draft implementation plan and plan resources for installation
Feb 16-20 Configure network settings and new computers
Mar 23-27 set up new equipment in preparation for final installation over the weekend and test connectivity
Mar 27-Mar 29 deploy new equipment, fine tune systems and final test connectivity
Mar 30-Apr 3 Go-live support
Apr 6 Lessons learned/project wrap-up
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