Open discussion: Infrastructure

In this Guild Meeting, John Sheesley gives us some insight on the intricacies of setting up your Wide Area Network.

On April 7th John Sheesley gave us some insight on the intricacies of setting up your Wide Area Network.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: Hello to all.

JCADMUS: Good afternoon!

MODERATOR: We're experiencing some technical difficulties, but the speaker will be starting any second. Today's topic is all about Infrastructure and how you can maintain control over it as you develop new networking environments. Okay, the speaker is logging in and we'll be starting in about 3-5 minutes. Do you have any questions you'd like to send to the speaker ahead of time?

JOHN SHEESLEY: Greetings everyone and welcome to our Friday Guild Meeting. Today's topic will be infrastructure... the stuff that goes on behind the scenes and behind the walls of your network. Our scheduled speaker, John Day, couldn't be with us today so I'll be your speaker. Feel free to ask any questions or make any relevant comments that you want.

MODERATOR: If you're thinking about setting up a new network should you be concentrating on wire or fiber?

JOHN SHEESLEY: When it comes to infrastructure, the first thing that comes to mind is cabling. Mr. Moderator, you read my mind...

MODERATOR: It is the basis of every network regardless of size of planned usage

JOHN SHEESLEY: Copper vs. fiber is a key argument going on with infrastructure nowadays.

JCADMUS: Why is it preferred?

JOHN SHEESLEY: It's another one of those philosophical/technical debates like Ethernet vs. Token Ring a few years back. Jcad, What's preferred will vary based on your needs.

JCADMUS: Does the size of the network involved play a major part?

Yes, size matters!
JOHN SHEESLEY: Well, not just the size of the network. What really matters is the size and layout of your organization. If you’re a small business with everyone located on the same floor in a small office, then there's no reason at all to go with fiber. Copper will suit you fine. However, if you you’re a medium to large size business... or one spread out on several floors or in several buildings, then you may consider using fiber as your network's backbone. You may also consider running fiber directly to the desktop depending on your user's needs and the size of your IS budget. Fiber is great for running from floor to floor in an organization. And for most campus-area networks such as from one building to another, it's essential.

JCADMUS: We have 2-3-4 rooms at two separate locations (independent of each other) and use Ethernet.

JOHN SHEESLEY: The biggest difference other than cost you'll find with fiber vs. copper is the distance limitations.

JCADMUS: Each of my locations is independent, but what if I wanted to link them together. Difficult?

JOHN SHEESLEY: Fiber is rated for up to 1km distances for Ethernet. Copper will only go 100m. How far apart are they Jcad?


JOHN SHEESLEY: In that case, you have to look more at a WAN configuration than the local campus stuff I've talked about so far. You've got several options. First, you could get a dedicated leased line from your telco to run between the two sites. The telco will charge you a flat rate dependent upon the speed you want to go and the distance between the sites. The farther and faster, the more expensive.

What can one server do?
JCADMUS: Then one server at one location could serve both areas?

JOHN SHEESLEY: Second, you could try something like a frame relay cloud. This is most often used when you have many different locations however.

JCADMUS: What is a frame relay cloud?

JOHN SHEESLEY: Rather than being point to point like the DLL, the lines go to a central location and the phone company handles the connections. Connections between the sites that is. Finally, you could also try using a VPN setup via the Internet. In this setup, you get a direct connection to the Internet at both sides of your network.... whether via DSL or ISDN. The VPN software encrypts data and passes back and forth between your networks. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. Even though the traffic goes over the public Internet, the encryption and tunneling makes it look as if you’re on a private network.

JCADMUS: Each of the locations is running an NW5 server. How does that compare?

JOHN SHEESLEY: Jcad... in that case you're ready to rock. All you need is a copy of BorderManager. BorderManager includes VPN capability and is very strong in this area.

JCADMUS: How is it for security and hacking though?

JOHN SHEESLEY: It runs as an NLM on your Netware box. You can even allow roving users to use the Internet to log into your Netware network thru BorderManager. In BorderManager, security is controlled thru NDS.
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, or on the Guild Meeting calendar.
JCADMUS: BorderManager—software installed under the NetWare? Can cover 50 users at ea. Location?

JOHN SHEESLEY: It's very secure. NDS does the authentication, and the only way you can access the VPN to begin with is with a Novell VPN client. Yes... BorderManager installs right over top of your Netware 5 software. It doesn’t affect your current Netware configuration or file and print sharing. It just adds another service to your Netware file server.

JCADMUS: I have each set with read/scan only on workstations. All work is saved on the local wkstations. This won't compromise anything?

JCADMUS: Sounds interesting. Where might I find some documentation?

JOHN SHEESLEY: Nope... NDS still controls all of the access. Whatever rights they have on the network sitting directly attached, they have remotely.

JCADMUS: I'll check that out.

JOHN SHEESLEY: That’s site tells you everything you need to know about BorderManager including pricing. TPG's Ron Nutter has written several articles about BorderManager and VPN. You can find the articles in the NetWare track of TPG as well. He did a presentation about BorderManager at this year's BrainShare and will do so for BrainShare Europe in France as well.

LWELCH: What's the best solution if you have an NT network?

What if you have an NT network?
JOHN SHEESLEY: Liz, Switch to NetWare. If Jack was around, he'd tell you to switch to Linux.... but that's another story. Actually, NT will allow you to do VPNs as well. The solution isn't quite as elegant as using BorderManager however. VPN's weren’t an option when MS first released Windows NT 4.0. Over time, as it became more necessary, MS started to introduce VPN capabilities for NT. The first option was to use PPTP... Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol. The problem with it being is that PPTP wasn’t very secure. You can use NT's own RAS to do some VPN functionality however...

JCADMUS: Is w2k pro supposed to be a replacement/upgrade for NT?

JOHN SHEESLEY: Many vendors have programs available for NT to create VPNs. One of the more popular ones is made by CheckPoint. ( Jack Wallen... the EIC for our Linux track is in the room, he may want to mention some VPN options available for Linux. Jcad: Win2K Pro is the replacement for WinNT Workstation.

JCADMUS: What about Win2K Server?

JOHN SHEESLEY: Win2K Server is the replacement for WinNT 4.0 server. There's another level of Win2K called Advanced Server. And yet another level called Data Center. Data Center isn't shipping yet. It supports large installations and uses more processors. It's supposed to be out this summer. Advanced does all of the same things as the regular server version, but it scales to more processors and includes clustering.

JCADMUS: Sounds like they've made it even more complicated and intricate.

Don’t make it so complicating
JOHN SHEESLEY: Well... see mingling what they've done is made it more layered. To do more, you have to buy the more expensive piece. Well gang... the clock on the computer says its time to wrap up today's Guild Meeting. Sorry for the technical delays getting started. And now... the time everyone's been waiting for... The Flying Finger of Fate to award today's Guild Meeting Prize... Mr. Moderator: Who is it and what will it be?

MODERATOR: OK, today's winner is Jcadmus. If you'll kindly send your mailing information to We'll send out a TechRepublic T-shirt as quickly as possible

JCADMUS: Wow—thanks! Great info and a prize too. Thank you. Thanks for all the great information—BorderManager site has a lot of docs.

JOHN SHEESLEY: Congrats Jcadmus! Thanks to everyone for your attendance and participation... Next Tuesday, be sure to come to our Guild Meeting where our speaker will be Jack Wallen, EIC for our Linux track. The topic will be configuring your Linux desktop. Guild Meeting adjourned.
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.

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