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Architect WAN design needed w/AutoCAD

By jeff ·
I am looking for some good WAN design examples that an Architectural firm would implement. Here's the situation. I have a customer whose head quarters are located in Central Nebraska. They specialize in designing and building churches throughout the country. They are interested in putting offices in Chicago, DesMoines, and Denver. At the HQ site they have an NT server 4.0 with Exchange Server 5.5. Their main apps consist of Architectural programs such as AutoCAD and other rendering programs. The goal is to eventually setup architects working on their own at each location, but until then they have to work with Construction Project Managers over some kind of remote connection which may require some heavy file transfers. We have looked at putting a BDC server at each site and using a 56K Frame Relay point-to-point connection between all the sites. We have also looked at utilizing this connection using the Internet and VPN without BDCs. The final design decision must be very scalable due to the rapid growth that is expected. They may start with 5 - 10 users. But quickly grow to 100 to 150 per site. The transfer of AutoCAD files is the main concern. In detail this consists of viewing drawings at HQ and the remote site, making changes at either location, and printing out the design to plotters at either location. The second priority is the use of Exchange Server. They must be able to communicate extensively via their Outlook 2K with each remote site. I am very curious to know what other Architectural firms have implemented concerning this type of WAN network design. Please feel free to send me any additional questions that you may have. Viso drawings are available of our proposed design if that would aid inanswering questions. Any comments would be helpful, thanks.

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Architect WAN design needed w/AutoCAD

by pikikoko In reply to Architect WAN design need ...

Assuming that you will use W2k servers you need to have your client move up to Autocad Architectural Desktop 2000i. 2000i lets each architect work on his projects while hooks up to the internet. The Architectural Desktop has a small window for managers to communicate will each other, share drawings,make suggestions, ect. The software also has a connection to the Autocads site so each architect can download details and symbols as they work. Your client will have to upgrade away from auto cad 14. Acad14 does not work in Win2k. As a architect you want to be able to work on your project while being able to view similar project examples. I don't think that you need more than Win2000 advance server to work this out. Setup the the local office as OUs or seperate domains. From there on you have a regular WAN. Architects and their vendors are use to sending project files via email. Autocad also has a viewer for the person receiving the files can view the autocad files. It sounds like in your situation most user except vendors will have autocad install. If they are not running W2k advance server have them install w2k as a backup server then move them over to w2k as the domain controller. I would not have them stay with an NT4 server.
Good luck
mike the architect

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Architect WAN design needed w/AutoCAD

by jeff In reply to Architect WAN design need ...

The question was auto-closed by TechRepublic

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Architect WAN design needed w/AutoCAD

by wlbowers In reply to Architect WAN design need ...

I would recommend a dedicated frame relay connection from each office to the main location. Have them install a full t1 to each location. Utilization should be a minimum of 256k of bandwith with a cir (commited information rate) of 256k. By having afull t1 inplace you can start out utilizing this partial bandwith for your 5 or so users, As your bandwith needs increase the vendor only has to do a programing change to give you more bandwith, then you do a program change to the router to take advantage of it.

Most vendors for this type of situation will probably send your frame over a shared pipeline so make sure you use a good router at each end. Minimum would be a Cisco 2600 series at both ends.

Use switches at the office areas instead of just hubs. 10/100 can carry 5 to 10 users in cad but if you plan to grow to 100 users you need to look at gigabite ethernet. Depending on your groth rate you might want to start with gigabite capabilities at the get go. The expense up front is high now but the lost production of waiting for file transfer with this type of setup would offset this cost real fast.

With users at 5 or so to start you probably don't need servers at the remote locations. You do need to eval the server at the main location though. Dual processor, dual servers with a load sharing setup will keep the irritation and wait time to a minimum. Once your remote locations gear up you might need to go to a BDC. I would definately have a good network analysis and monitoring software running in this configuration. This will let monitor your network health and be able to implement expansion before it reaches meltdown.

Hope this rambling has helped

Lee Bowers

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Architect WAN design needed w/AutoCAD

by jeff In reply to Architect WAN design need ...

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Architect WAN design needed w/AutoCAD

by sconnor In reply to Architect WAN design need ...

I would look at implementing W2k terminal servers and Citrix metaframe. The new release metaframe 1.8 rel. 1.0 would support autocad, you would have to test of course. But you could start off with cable or adsl and vpn links back to your head office and utilize a citrix farm and then grow your userbase accordingly. All support can be handled in the head office and large file transfers could be eliminated.

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Architect WAN design needed w/AutoCAD

by jeff In reply to Architect WAN design need ...

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Architect WAN design needed w/AutoCAD

by scott.l.miller In reply to Architect WAN design need ...

It is vital that, for scalability, you do not order 56K circuits. You can start out with Frame Relay, but order at least 128K Circuits. The reason for this is the 56K lines are stuck at 56K. In order to increase the bandwidth, you must order a whole new circuit. By ordering 128K, the telco is forced to install a circuit that is capable of growing to a full T1. This is what the post above was trying to tell you, but I thought it needed some clarification.

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Architect WAN design needed w/AutoCAD

by jeff In reply to Architect WAN design need ...

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Architect WAN design needed w/AutoCAD

You have received some good tips. I moved from point-to-point lines to a private frame relay cloud so I can tell you first hand that it makes good business sense. We increased our bandwidth and lowered our cost. Take care to check the CIR (certified information rate) rating. Some folks will advertize cheap T1 access with zero CIR. Our standard CIR purchase is 50% of circuit rating.

As mentioned in a previous response, the 128k does make a difference in what the Telco uses. This applies to your routers too. The 56k/64k WIC cards are not scalable. Using T1 WIC cards in your router will allow you to scale from 128k to T1 as well.

Good luck on your project.

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Architect WAN design needed w/AutoCAD

by jeff In reply to Architect WAN design need ...

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