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Burst of growth...Help..

Within a small start-up I was a mere IT, lab rat, facilities "handyman". Now I am facilities/IT and move coordinator of a start up company that just received funding. We are going from a ad-hoc Windows 2000, XP, 2003 / Linux peer to peer 15 person environment to Windows XP, 2003 / Linux Domain 35 - 65 people by year end environment. This is to include, all new equipment, software as well as a newly designed server room with Windows 2003, SBS and exchange.

In essence I wanted to pick your brain on what insight there is out there on planning for a new network and setting it up in this above indicated configuration or any pointers to sites that may provide play by play in essence setup. Any pro's vs. cons in using a contractor set it all up considering the 4 week time frame I have to have the new environment up and working A+. Any gotcha's you may be aware of that individuals may have come across? Did you decide to do it yourself and if so what was some time saving but solid hints to set in place? Have anyone read the SBS book recommended by Microsoft and did it help?

Any and all help to this overwhelmed IT /facilities guy would be MOST appreciated.

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Short on time

by jdmercha In reply to Burst of growth...Help..

Given the short time frame I would hire an experienced contractor to come in to get it set up and going. Then I would learn as much as possible from them while they are there. And if possible get a year-long maintenance contract with them. (All the while picking their brains to update your own skills.)

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Given your timeline...

by dafe2 In reply to Burst of growth...Help..


Hire pros..........and check their references.
That's my best advice especially given your timeline.


"All new Equipment and a Server Room": I'd suggest only Server Racks and Rack Mounted Servers and Cable Management Systems. Plus a good ACU. Don't forget physical security here.
Use an IBDN Certified Cable installer for a managed and easily maintained cable plant. Integrate the cable plant and your switch into the server rack (In your case, maybe 9U's of space, Max including a large switch)

Combining your facilities knowledge (and your current IT knowledge) with a Professional IT Consultant that has a good background in Computer Room Facilities will put you way ahead.

Doing this with a the long a whole lot more economical than you think, if you look at the big picture. It would also be a great learning experience for you....not many in IT get to design from the ground up anymore.

Good Luck!

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Cooling requirements

by BFilmFan In reply to Given your timeline...

Don't forget to plan on your cooling requirements. It amazes me that companies spend a fortune on servers, backup power supplies, redundant storage arrays and then forget to plan the AC correctly...

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Nice catch there!

by dafe2 In reply to Cooling requirements

I mentioned it in passing as the ACU but your right, it should be STRESSED.

Too many times it's an after thought.

Some guys even buy portable units now, just to be used as backups in high availabilty rooms. They even run them during (Long) ACU maintenance windows. $500 well spent if you ask me.

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Planning, Planning, Planning

by awfernald In reply to Burst of growth...Help..

Even though you are short on time, the most important thing for you to do first is to sit down and make a plan!

If you can get management to get a GOOD systems architect in for even one or two days to assist you with your plan, that money spent will be well invested.

When building this network, do NOT go cheap! The network you build today will be with you for the next 5 to 10 years, and should be presented as such.

Poor design today and/or cutting corners to save a nickel will simply lead to numerous problems in the mid-term future (1-3 years in my mind).

Specific things to keep in mind are:

1. Electrical - Make sure you have voltage stabilized and UPS backup circuits for at least all the equipment in your server/telecom room. I would plan for at least 15 mins on the network equipment, 45 mins on the server equipment, and 12 hours on the telephone system.

2. Network Infrastructure - Use the recommendations from the other poster regarding a certified installation, and once the installation is complete, CHECK IT YOURSELF!!!! Either get a line tester and verify each of the points (with 65 users, I would imagine you won't have over 200 network points) or get a DIFFERENT contractor to come in and certify the cable installation.

3. Network Infrastructure (take 2) - Use the best cabling type you can afford, especially in the server rooms. Using standard Cat 5e, 6 or 7 cabling out to the desktop is good, but are there some workstations where you might now or in the near future benefit from fiber optic? What speed will your clients be talking to the server(s), and what speed will the servers be talking to each other? Will you have a different network segment for your server room to keep server traffic completely separate from client/server and client/client?

4. Telecomm - The make or break piece of the puzzle. Make sure you have your telephone system upgraded and ready for 24 x 7 x 365. The once piece of technology which NOBODY accepts an outage on is their telephone. Make sure you maintain an excellent system of backups for your telephony software/configuration, and if possible, spare parts on hand.

5. Server - Don't build a server, buy one! Don't try to purchase lower priced components out of which you will fudge together a high powered server. Purchase servers with a proven track history, and make it as fully redundant as you can possibly afford.

6. Support - If you will be the only person supporting this system, learn it inside and out while building it, but also try to get some classroom/hands-on training before you start!

If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me.

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Very Very Very True

by dafe2 In reply to Planning, Planning, Plann ...

I thought you'd appreciate this:

I was just at a conference last week. A project Manager with an extensive backround in Planning was invited to speak to a group about Planning Methodologies and the importance of Planning.

He was booked to speak for an hour. They where concerned he wasn't given ennough time to explain such an integral part of projects.
This guy is very highly respected in the field.

He's introduced and gets up on stage. So he says to the audience: "Why the **** anybody would book me for an hour is beyond me. I can explain this in 10 minutes, including art work. It's not rocket science." DO pay attention please.

So he turns to the Whiteboard and draws 4 lines and 4 arrows:

Poor Planning -> Poor Results
Good Planning -> Good Results
Great Planning -> Great Results
Excellent Planning -> Excellent Results

All he says is - That's planning, any questions?

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by awfernald In reply to Very Very Very True

I hope he gave a little bit more than that, but... it is so true.

As the old saying goes (paraphrase), "Poor planning on your part does not constitute a crisis on my part!"

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