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Help with network upgrade please...


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#1
WakaWaka

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Hello. I'm hoping that the network masters here might be able to give me some advice.

I work for a small not-for-profit community outreach center. Lately we have been having some issues with our network and I think it's time to upgrade. But I am without a doubt over my head when it comes to networking. I'm very computer literate though, and I think I can handle it, I just need some advice as to where to start.

The previous sysadmin who was here set up a network which, for the life of me, doesn't make a lot of sense. I've talked to an IT buddy of mine too, and it was his opinion that it was pretty jacked up also.

Here's the system:

There are a total of 6 computers servers comprising the hosts. (I think that terminology is correct anyway.)

They are, as follows:

Server 1: x86 Pentium, OS-Windows Server Family 2000 SP4; 3 partitions, not sure # of physical drives
Server 2: Pentium III, OS-Windows Server Family 2000 SP4; 3 partitions, not sure of # of physical drives
Server 3: Pentium IV 2.8ghz, OS-Windows Server Family 2000 SP4; 3 partitions, not sure of # of physical drives
Server 4: Xeon 2.4ghz, OS Windows Server Family 2000 SP4; 4 partitions, not sure of # of physical drives
Server 5: Pentium IV 2.8ghz, OS-Windows Server Family 2000 SP4; 4 partitions, not sure of # of physical drives
Server 6: Celeron 2.8ghz, OS-Windows XP Pro SP 2; 1 partition

Internet access is provided by an ATT T-1 line using Hyperedge equipment, 2 Cisco 1700 routers and a WatchGuard Firebox firewall.

Now, as I noted, I'm a noob when it comes to networking, but this all seems REALLY overblown to me, especially running six boxes. Server #6 actually runs the firewall software if I'm not mistaken, but is it necessary to have that many boxes running? We're constantly having to reset the servers because if one screws up it takes the whole system down. Most of our storage noted above is not used, and is primarily for documents. We have a total of about 42 workstations which access the network, most running WinXP Pro.

I'm thinking that everything could EASILY be handled by one box running either MS Server 2003 or MS Server 2008 and a couple of 500GB drives (which will be more than we'll need for a LONG time).

It seems that, at best, running that many boxes is a waste of electricity and at worst a hodge-podge of complexity. Am I correct in my assumption?

Yeah, I know, most of the stuff on this forum is home-related. But, as I noted, we ARE a not-for-profit, and with the way things are right now we just can't afford to have an outside tech come in and redo the system. That being the case, I'd appreciate any and all hints or helps that might be provided.

Thanks in advance!

Stephen
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#2
jaxisland

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The servers will have roles assigned to them. By logging into them you can see what they are. Outline in another post what the roles of each of the computers are that way we know what they are actually doing.
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#3
dsenette

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wow that's a lot of hardware hehe especially if you've got no clue what each of them is doing...i'll be interested to know what they're all there for..

are you running in a domain environment or is this all workgroup (if it's all a workgroup all of that hardware is even sillier)
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#4
WakaWaka

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We are operating as a domain. I know that among the servers I listed there is an SQL server, a FileMaker Server, and there are a couple of interactive educational programs which are served to our workstations in our computer lab. As far as I know at this point, the rest is for storage, except Server #6, which, as I noted earlier, runs the Watchguard Firebox software. Our total storage of all those HDD's (or partitions) is 775GB. Of that, roughly 186GB is being used, leaving a surplus of >580GB.

There really isn't anything special about our network, we don't do anything to be what I'd consider cutting-edge on it, it's strictly for education and school records. Even our website and company email is hosted by Dreamhost, which I think is kind weird as it seems we could do that ourselves, especially given our incredibly light website traffic.

All of our financial stuff is on a seperate network and server, so I really don't have to worry about screwing up too bad. I can easily do complete backups of everything we have at this point (and, of course, will) prior to any upgrades. I also have an IT pro who has agreed to be on call if I need a hand. It's just that he makes a pretty penny for his work, and while I'd even prefer to hire someone to do it, we simply do not have the funding at this point.

So what do you guys think? Am I getting in over my head here? Like I noted, I'm very computer literate, I've just never really messed with networks other than homes, and that's been all workgroups. I'd really like to do it for the experience but I sure don't wanna screw everything up either.

Stephen
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#5
jaxisland

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It seems best to think about what everything is running and what can be combined. Buying an actual Server with good specs can probably let you combine most of those systems into one.
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#6
WakaWaka

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Well, actually, 5 of the 6 ARE Servers. The hardware is as follows:

Server 1- HP tc2100
Server 2- Dell PowerEdge 1400SC
Server 3- Dell PowerEdge 600SC
Server 4- Dell PowerEdge 1600SC
Server 5- HP ProLiant ML110

So, I'm hoping that one of those would fit the bill for the upgrade and eliminate the rest. My best guess for that position, and strictly because of model number and CPU (Xeon), would be Server 4. Is that a fair guess? Would the Pentium 4's in #2 and #5 be a better choice, based on clock speed?

Stephen
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#7
WakaWaka

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Oh yeah, another question:

The WatchGuard is set up with Internet filtering for most of the workstations, particularly in the Computer Lab. Most all of the employees have open IP's at their desks. However, bandwidth has been throttled to about 100KBs for everyone.

Now, the ONLY person who ever downloads large files is me, and most of the bandwidth passing to the Internet is simply web-surfing by employees. I'd guesstimate that there are no more than 5 surfing at any given time. That being the case, isn't the bandwidth throttle pretty restrictive? Even if I were running, say, something like Azureus, or Usenext, would that be such a drain on a T1 that everyone else's performance would suffer?

Having a throttled T1 SUCKS! :)

Stephen
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#8
dsenette

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how many users do you have?
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#9
WakaWaka

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Well, there are (about) 42 workstations on the network total. I'd imagine that there are usually no more than 5 on the Internet at a time, as I've noted, pretty much all just light browsing, nothing big. I'm the only one that ever downloads anything, and I don't do it that often.
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