Do you find yourself re-doing your network configuration every time you add a handful of new users? On May 26 John Day suggested tips on network design that you can use to prepare your network for growth—whether you’ve planned for it or not. If you couldn’t join us then, enjoy the transcript and we hope to see you on our next live Guild Meeting.

Do you find yourself re-doing your network configuration every time you add a handful of new users? On May 26 John Day suggested tips on network design that you can use to prepare your network for growth—whether you’ve planned for it or not. If you couldn’t join us then, enjoy the transcript and we hope to see you on our next live Guild Meeting.

Note: TechProGuild edits Guild Meeting transcripts for clarity.

Welcome to the Guild Meeting!
MODERATOR: Welcome to this Friday’s edition of the weekly Guild Meetings. Today we welcome John Day. John will offer up advice and RX’s for making your network easier to manage.

JOHN DAY: Well, Hello to everyone. Let’s get started. Having spent the last 4 years with startups including TechRepublic I have some general tips.

76327711: I’m all ears.

JOHN DAY: The first of which is ask for three times the budget you think you’ll need.

76327711: Been there, done that!

JOHN DAY: But to be serious, the most important is to start out with as simple a network as necessary to meet your needs and to purchase intelligently.

76327711: I have dealt primarily with NetWare and am just starting to test NT (SBS, later 2000) networks. Are there any initial major concerns I should have—besides having enough correct hardware—to prepare for?

Hardware needy
JOHN DAY: Yes, NT is a hardware needy OS. Plan for large memory and disk space up front

76327711: With regard to NT servers, do you know why there is a 4 GB partition limitation on the hard drive? How do you use the remainder of this drive? Just add another partition?

JOHN DAY: Especially if you are going to use exchange for your e-mail. Dedicate a large multiprocessor box with as much disk space as you can afford. I would also recommend a separate backup device built into that server just for email. No matter what e-mail platform you choose I would setup a sendmail box outside your firewall and forward email between it and your corp. e-mail server.

76327711:We are installing NT SBS for a user who wants Exchange Server. This will all be on a single server. It appears that we should have a second hard drive in the server for Exchange—yes?

JOHN DAY: This is because you’ll want to be able to upgrade/shut down and maintain that server without stopping incoming e-mail

76327711: This account will be using Exchange internally only—no outside-in access—and their main use for Exchange is to share MS Outlook calendars.

JOHN DAY: Yes, at least a second drive. I would recommend a full raid 5 array. How many users?

76327711: Full raid 5 array is probably not possible for this install. Small user count (4) and smaller budget. The user is a psychologist: scheduling very important even for such a small office.

JOHN DAY: Having worked in the medical area I have found they don’t spend much on hardware so I understand. At least mirror hard drives and have a tape backup capable of backing up four times your current disk space if possible.

Adding an NT
76327711: Is adding an NT “volume” or second drive as easy as adding one in NetWare?

JOHN DAY: Four users? I would say a high end Pentium III with at least 256 Meg rams, 512 preferred.

76327711: Having a mirror drive is not a problem. We use Arco mirror controllers in all servers and have found them to be very good. We install in removable trays so we can swap and store easily.

JOHN DAY: Yes, it is easy just install two drives, mirror them then use the disk admin util under system tools to mount / format them as a new drive letter. I would make sure that my system drive has a lot of disk space or replace it. Exchange installs several pieces on the system drive and running out of space. It will shut down your system

76327711:Do additional drives have the 4 GB limitations? I can’t imagine this but have to ask the question.

JOHN DAY: No I would recommend mirrored 18 gig drives minimum

76327711: Wow, that sounds impressive. Not so long ago “10 MB was all we’d *ever* need.” 🙂

JOHN DAY: Watch out once your users start using Outlook and exchange they will want to do task/project management and contact management which can really increase your database. Especially the project management. Don’t let them turn on the journal function without understanding it’s storage requirements.

76327711: I would think that contact management may come up. I will watch for that. I also have to get up to speed on NT very quickly.

Getting up to speed
JOHN DAY: Also, watch out for them wanting to have shared public folders as an easy to use replacement for your current shared data directories on NetWare

76327711: I think they know about the Journal and have it turned off—but I will double-check that.

JOHN DAY: Journal keeps copies of you’re Excel, word and PowerPoint docs, which can chew up resources.

76327711: What exactly is the difference between NT “shared public folders” and NW shared directories?

JOHN DAY: And before I stop beating this horse in the ground, if they ask about forwarding you current email to exchange… you know your in for a change.

76327711: Got that: they will be dropping their current e-mail and replace it entirely with Exchange.

JOHN DAY: Well, in Exchange you can setup shared public folders which acts as a front end to shared data on NT it is an easy to use method of access because it comes up in Outlook and you can easily change a shared file to any other Outlook item

76327711:jl357: anything to share here?

JL357: Not really I’m in the learning phase

JOHN DAY: i.e. you can open a document then drag it to your calendar or any one else’s and drop it. It becomes a sort of tickler system. You could drop it on tasks and it will notify you when it is due

76327711: I’m at the same level with NT server.
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JOHN DAY: Outlook/Exchange is really easy to do these type functions in. Users will pick this up and build their own systems

JL357: I Currently have a 3.12 server and am getting ready to upgrade to N-5.1

76327711: I’ve been to a few Outlook classes and its really neat: there’s so-o-o much you can do with it.

JOHN DAY: I’m an old 3.12 guy but I moved to NT when NDS became too cumbersome to get up and running quickly

JL357: I am finding that NDS seems to be complicated

76327711: Your upgrade to NW5 should not be too difficult. If possible do a new install and then move your NW 3.12 programs and data to the new server.

JOHN DAY: NT and Exchange are a snap to install and get running the issues arise when you want to a. upgrade the Exchange server or move exchange (a real bear) or b. secure NT properly this is a science in itself.

JL357: That’s what I was planning.

76327711: NDS on NW5 is much quicker than when originally introduced. It’s really very nice. I understand the moving and upgrading issues: hope to avoid.

JOHN DAY: NetWare and NDS are more complex to install but adding disk space and memory are easy, moving data is as well and security is built in you have to make it unsecure manually ;o) You’ll find that the amount of study needed to get NT and Exchange running is a lot less than NetWare.

Keeping a nose in the books
JL357: I am finding I am doing a lot of studying

JOHN DAY: To avoid having to move Exchange I would get a multiprocessor capable box if possible, one that can support 1 gig of memory… I know that sounds like a lot but I’ve been in places where we had to contract someone to move it to a new server and it cost us a lot more than a $5,000 server

76327711: Less study: that’s hard to believe. With NW all I did was load it and take notes. Keeping it running has been a no-brainer on most days.

JL357: Trying to figure out the best way to set up the NDS tree.

JOHN DAY: Don’t study too much just get a box running NT following the install prompts just like NetWare. I’ll agree in 3.xx I didn’t have any problems with the install but NDS seemed to baffle me for a few days.

76327711: NDS tree should not be a problem for you especially if your are installing a single server at a single site. The installation process is automated and will do most of the work for you. NDS is not a problem with small networks. Larger, multi-site networks do take some work.

JL357: It is a single server. Should I use the OU for different dept.

JOHN DAY: I was setting up a three-server network with NDS. Originally the plan was to have NDS mount NT directories and use NDS to control security. I’ve found big shops that make this work really well but in my case as the only IT resource for a rapid startup the ramp up time was too long. I scrapped the NDS, installed three NT servers, one with Exchange and connected 40 users in a weekend!

Don’t mess around
76327711: Don’t mess with the OU unless security is a very high requirement. You can accept the default install OU setup and then use Groups just like you do in NW3.

JOHN DAY: Backups, security and Internet proxy server took another weekend

JL357: Thanks.

JOHN DAY: I agree on the default OU, that is where I got in over my head with NDS we had needs for departmental security and I went in circles.

76327711: You’re welcome.

JOHN DAY: In a stable company I’m sure I could have figured it out but at the time we were hiring 10 people a week and they needed e-mail, Internet, printing, and shared resources plus PCs ordered and installed.

76327711: If you are installing NW5 for a single site, less than 50 users, you might want to consider NW5 Small Business Suite. It comes with GroupWise, Net access and some other goodies and costs about the same as regular NW5. In a rapidly growing company you’d have system problems even if we were still using typewriters and tin cans.

JL357: My boss has already purchased all of the needed software. Know it’s up to me to figure it out.

JOHN DAY: Oh yeah, we did. That was TechRepublic two years ago… In hind site I should have been more assertive with management and outsourced the PC installs and planned more for growth up front.

76327711: No problem then, just go with the NW5. Follow the automatic install and you should not have too much trouble. And as long as you are installing on a new server, don’t be afraid to start over if you feel that it’s not going right.

Don’t leave out any detail
JOHN DAY: Don’t under sell the scope of these projects to management, try to spend more time explaining requirements, controlling expectations and outlining options such as outsourcing. I had ownership and control issues and tried to do it all myself as cheap as possible

JL357: I figure I will set it up a few times before I put it live

76327711: There is a lot of help at the NW Web site. The Knowledgebase is very good. You might want to read through some areas just to get a feel for the product. Yep, “as cheap as possible” is never the right solution.

JOHN DAY: You know when you come back with your hand out it is never an easy sell. Some general tips before we run out of time… and I hope I’m not explaining the obvious

  1. 1.       Buy switches instead of hubs, you can use VLANS to subnet traffic. I like Cisco
  2. 2.       Rack mount or better yet cabinet mount your servers the costs is worth it. Expandable disk space and memory with multiprocessor ready CPU design
  3. 3.       Have extra cabling ran when contracting, we had two people in every office at one place I worked and running cable after the fact was expensive

76327711: Check out this Novell site, it has a good video on NW SBS install: about 2 1/2 hours.

JOHN DAY: Don’t forget UPS and AC double your needs. I would say limit your protocols to IP only if you can to reduce traffic.

76327711: Very important: clean—preferably new—power circuits for new servers.

MODERATOR: Okay all… let’s wrap it up…

JOHN DAY: Agree, separate circuit to all servers, routers, etc.

76327711: This was a good exchange.

Thanks for coming guys (and gals)
JOHN DAY: Thanks a lot guys, you educated me as well on the NetWare issues. I always find a lot of NetWare guys here and learn something every time. Wish I had a resource like this two years ago.

JL357: Thanks for all the help

JOHN DAY: By the way, MS offers an intro to 2000 online class on its Web site. It’s downloadable (6 megs) I recommend it

76327711: You’re welcome for the help. Contact me if you have questions: I may be able to help you find the answers:

MODERATOR: Thanks a bunch John for speaking today!!!

JOHN DAY: Same here,

76327711: I’ll download the 2000 class. Thanks.

JOHN DAY: I’ve enjoyed it

MODERATOR: Okay guys. Thanks for a great afternoon meeting! Later!

76327711: Time well spent. Thanks guys.
Our Guild Meetings feature top-flight professionals leading discussions on interesting and valuable IT issues. You can find a schedule of Guild Meetings in your weekly TechProGuild Notes TechMail, or on the Guild Meeting calendar.