Topology and Media
The Hierarchical (tree) topology is best for this system. Winkelman (2013) asserts that this topology expands a star topology by allowing several star topologies to interlink through a linear bus. This topology would allow an Ethernet to include a main server, smaller servers, and PCs. Since the network fits within only two floors of the same building, the best media would be twisted pair cable (CAT5 or CAT6 UTP).
Architecture and Protocols
The network would be housed within one building forming a server-client local area network (LAN). However, the network would need some WAN capabilities in the form of an internet connection to enable the two salespersons and on-site programmers access the system remotely. For this reason, the Transmission Control Protocol Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) would be adequate enough to serve both the LAN and the Internet connection. Gilbert (1995) recommends TCP/IP because TCP enables and ensures correct delivery of data packets from server to client and vice versa. IP enables transfer of data packets to and from the Internet. The system may require a virtual private network (VPN) so the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol will provide browser level security for remote users (Geier 2013).
Physical protection is securing the building and the computer hardware. Methods of physical security include locks and padlocks, hiring security guards, closed circuit television, personnel identification cards, and installation of burglar-proof doors and windows. Biometrics (GVSU, 2014) such as fingerprint readers and retinal scanners may apply. Non-physical security measures include the use of operating system (OS) firewalls and firewall devices (Copley 2014), use of security software such as antivirus and so on, frequent update to the OS and software, data encryption, and enforcement of a security policy (UITS, 2014). In the server-based network, each user must have an account with a unique user name and password. Wireless devices such as the router must have a WiFi Protected Access (WPA) password known only to the WiFi users, and this password must change often.
Backups and Disaster Recovery
UITS (2014) recommends frequent backup of data. The systems must have capabilities for automatic backups every time data is modified. This secures data up to the point of disaster thus recovery becomes easier and accurate. Data backup media may include the use of off-site hard disks, and back-up tapes. A functional backup (standby) system provides continuity in the event of disaster, until the system is restored.
Microsoft (2014) recommends that all server hardware should support 64-bit technology. The 64-bit CPU should have a minimum clock speed of 2.0 gigahertz, dual core or higher. A minimum RAM size of 16GB and hard disk size of 72GB is best. High speed read and write (RW) capability such as RAID and 10,000RPM are desirable for server hard disks. For purposes of connectivity, one or two dual port network interface cards (NIC) serve best.
Laptop and desktop PCs would serve well as client workstations in the office buildings. PCs with processors in the class Core-i3 or higher, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard disks, DVD writer, NIC and WiFi capability would be adequate. The salesmen would make use of tablets, net books or powerful mobile phones such as smart-phones, Windows phones, and so on because of their network connectivity and business application capabilities.
According to Nortel Networks (36), Hubs or intelligent switches will connect computers to the each other or the server through UTP. RJ-45 Network interface cards (NICs) enable connection between the computer and the network cable. Wireless Access Points and WiFi cards allow computer to connect wirelessly within the building. To connect to the Internet a router must be connected to the server or hub. The router connects to the Internet Service Provider (ISP) through a DSL modem, telephone, satellite dish and digital video band (DVB) or a wireless radio receiver (Nortel Networks 45).
For the purposes of report production and communication between the staff, two high-speed network printers, one full color and the other black are necessary. An interconnected telephone system within the building will facilitate internal and external communication between staff and the management. The telephone system will serve as the link to the ISP. A fax machine may not be necessary because the staff can exploit the services of a fax modem and electronic mail.
Microsoft Windows 2008 Server would be the best Server OS for Pennsy Dutch Programming. Users may make a choice between Microsoft Windows 7 and the open-source Linux for the client workstations. According to Microsoft (2014), both operating systems (OS) enjoy full year-round technical support. The most important aspect of the server OS is the Windows Deployment Service (Microsoft 2014) that would enable Pennsy developers to deploy applications to their customers’ computers remotely, for example software patches, upgrades, and so on. Linux could significantly lower software cost for Pennsy.
Mobile /Offsite Connectivity
The best method of accomplishing this is by developing a website, and providing secure log-in accounts to each staff so that they would be able to connect to the system remotely through mobile devices.
One of the reasons for selecting the hierarchical topology, coupled with MS Windows 2008 Server, is that it is easy to expand (Winkelman 2013). Should the company employ more staff in the future the new nodes will just be attached to the existing network through a hub, with some little configuration done on the server. This does not interfere with the operations of the system.
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Gilbert, H. Introduction to TCP/IP. Yale University. 2 February 1995. Web. 5 April 2014. <http://www.yale.edu/pclt/COMM/TCPIP.HTM >
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