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Justifying a network design consultant?

By tlyczko ·
I recently started working for a non-profit which basically has no network per se. (Servers are in each of three buildings located close to each other, but they are isolated from each other.) The network needs to accommodate 50-100 users and grow to approximately 200-250.

I want to justify why a consultant would be better for the initial physical/logical network design -- connecting the buildings' T-1's (voice only now); especially router & switch type, ideal location, capacity, setup, etc.; server setup recommendations; quality of service; and other initial steps.

I can't merely state to my Executive Director that I and my boss (MIS Director, knows less than me, sigh) don't know enough to start this on our own and that it's worth the expense to get it done right.

Thank you,
Tom

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by Oldefar In reply to Justifying a network desi ...

You might want to consider a consultant who will first optimize your comm costs. There are a number of these who work on a contingency basis - sharing any cost savings versus a flat fee. This will likely free up money for the next phase.

That phase should be linking the non-profit objectives and requirements to the technical objectives and requirements. This should be for all communications, not simply data. The best approach provides a direct link from business objective(s) to business requirement(s) to technical objective(s) to technical requirement(s) to the physical, logical, and component design. It will include such aspects as future expansion and ongoing support.

In many cases the cost savings will cover the costs of the rest of the project, especially coupled with a knowledgable consultant who knows where to find equipment at little or no cost for non-profits.

Contact me via the peer directory if you want additional detail.

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by rawright In reply to Justifying a network desi ...

"I and my boss (MIS Director, knows less than me, sigh) don't know enough to start this on our own"

That's justification enough, but I can understand your reasons for not wanting to explicitly state the facts. I'm a Director of the local United Way, and the only person involved with the organization that has any technical savvy at all. Non-profits need to be exceptionally careful about spending, and cannot afford or justify having know-it-all wizards on the full-time staff; they can only afford to have good, solid people who know how to make day to day operations efficient and available. As a Director, a justification that I would accept would be that we need specialized technical help that we cannot afford to develop in-house in order to efficiently link our systems. The initial cost will be high, but it will be offset by the savings we will realize from the increased efficiency of our staff in meeting the needs of our clients. I don't know of a way to quantify that savings, but I know from 25+ years experience that it exists.

If you'd like me to write to your Board recommending this, I will be happy to do so. Contact me at the address I use for my alias (which I really should change due to the enormous amount of spam I'm getting lately).

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by Jose Mir In reply to Justifying a network desi ...

The most important point in hiring a network consultant will be to keep cost as low as possible. How can this be done? Well, the correct specification of needs and solutions is always a ?must? when dealing with technology in reduced-budget environments (or should I say in every environment?). And making the right choices, in a 3 building network with more than 50 users, will pay more than the consulting cost.
The important points here are bandwidth and equipment; and both of them have important variations depending on the technology chosen. Even the network operative system, and third party utilities, will add some variations to the cost equation.
Are there going to be one common network? With one administration point? Or every building is a separate entity with the only need of sharing some files once in while? Maybe you want to treat the issue like a central network with two branch offices. Or maybe you can benefit with the knowledge of the differences between VPN and / or replicated NOS infrastructure.
Do you think the fact that you can only need one network administrator and network/servers support person versus a multi-person team has some value? How much can your organization save by selecting the right platform? Remember that extra support personnel, or hard to maintain networks could have an extra cost of many thousand dollars yearly!
More details?. I?d be pleased to help you with some basic recommendations, if you want it (don?t worry, it will be free, I?m not promoting myself).
Regards,

Jose.-

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by wroming In reply to Justifying a network desi ...

The best way to get the services done with out having to admit that to your boss is this way. When you get pricing for the equipment and what it will take have the bidders include the cost of professional services in with the equipment so that you can have help doing the process. That away both sides get what they want the upper management gets there nifty little setup and you get to learn how to do the process with out admitting the lack of knowledge. Hope this helps if you have any other questions please feel free to email me at wroming@ci.killeen.tx.us

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