Setting up a large network

  Nickmil 19:34 15 Jun 05

I have been asked about setting uo a network and am looking for some advise.It would comprise of about 250 client pc's located in a new hotel.
Firstly, would i be correct in suggesting a star topology using utp(cat5) cabling? (I am aware of fibre option)
Would a switch and router be needed, or can hubs do the job?
Would a File,Exchange,PDC,BDC,and Print Server be sufficient.
What is my best Anti-virus security option,Mcafee or Norton or something else?
What is a good cd rom restricter, eg: Reflex Optimium.
I have more questions where they came from so any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Thank alot in advance

  djwheeler 13:57 16 Jun 05

Star topology using Cat5 should be fine, Use switches not hubs, the servers you need depends on what the clients will need to do (will they need e-mail, will there be network printers etc.). Anti-virus is a difficult one to answer as there are many products out there, we use McAfee VirusScan which is deployed and managed by ePolicy Orchestrator. You will also need a firewall and some kind of virus/traffic scanning software at the gateway to scan e-mails/web traffic etc. for nasties. Hope this helps a bit.

  Nickmil 14:59 16 Jun 05

thanks for your reply mate.

What virus/traffic scanning software do you recommend?
Should i suggest seperate stand-alone pc's for internet use?

Thanks again pal.

  djwheeler 15:42 16 Jun 05

There are various e-mail/traffic scanning solutions, Aladdin do eSafe Gateway (which we use), McAfee do Webshield & Groupshield or they will do product suites that will include desktop virus scanning, e-mail scanning and web traffic scanning etc. Surfcontrol are other companies you could try. To be honest we have not had many problems with the eSafe gateway software that we currently use. Not sure about seperate PC's for internet access, can't imagine not having internet access on the desktop unless there is absolutely no reason for the users to need internet access.

  Nickmil 16:44 16 Jun 05

Thanks for your help mate,

Cheers for the tips,

  Gaz 25 16:57 17 Jun 05

Use, a main router if you wish to share internet connections.

If you have money to spend, go Cisco. If you don't settle, with Netgear, Linksys, Buffalo, Draytek, etc.

As said, use switches instead of HUBS. Hubs are useless, they just spread the signal over all ports, and creates a lot of overhead and useless bandwidth usage. Save it, and get a switch which will increase speed.

As for gateways, I like smoothwalls - great! But, you also want antivirus - any will do, long as it's a recognised make. I actually quite like the Panda Gatedefenders.

A domain controller, assuming you'd provide this by a Windows server 2003 should be fine for a network using more than 10 computers. If yuo have less, maybe not worth it.

Good luck!

  Nickmil 17:12 17 Jun 05

Cheers Gaz,

Thanks for the sound advise.

Is smoothwalls a make of Gateways?

  Gaz 25 02:09 06 Sep 05

Smoothwall is a firewall / filtering device. There's a free version, which I modify to provide almost same features as the retail editions.

Here are the retail editons: click here and all you need is a decent PC to make into a server. It must have two network cards, 2x 10/100 (/1000) network cards - good make's preferably. 3com or something.

There is a WAN side, this is the Internet - also called the RED side. Use your 10/100 card, to connect to the ethernet modem.

Then, you need to set-up the green side with a subnetwork set-up and IP range. THis is the expensive and comlex bit.

If you having a Gatedefender, which for a basic one is about £1500-1600 direct from click here - contact them from there, or contact me for direct communication with them.

Connect using smallest CAT5e cables you can.

You need a switch, say a 48 port (managed for added configurability and security) with a gigabit uplink.

Then connect your PC's to the switch, if you need more computers, buy a good unmanaged switch for them computers, but with a gigabit uplink, uplink both switches. If iy's only a few PCs uplinking using a standard port would be fine.

Uplinking can be done using standard CAT5e cables on Auto Uplink and Auto MDX/MDI negotiation.

Finally, if you need to seperate departments but still have internet access, use Vlans which can be done from main switch that's managed.

3com is a good make too, and is cheaper than cisco.

If you want help or advice, speak with me directly by clicking the envelope next to my name. I can offer a more personalised approach to helping you.

There is rather a lot of configuration, and I will be willing to inform you of which products to buy and a simple set-up guide. I'm also Cisco Certified so I can offer any advice on maximising and securing your network.

By the way, how many PCs are we connecting here? Servers?

Re. Print servers, you can connect any of these to a 10/100 network port.

If your in an office and want wall plates with sockets for power and ethernet patched through to a sever/network room - then I can also put you in touch with the professionals to install that for you.


  Gaz 25 02:12 06 Sep 05

Also, if the GateDefender is too expensive. There is a few other products I can suggest - that are about £500. These scan network traffic before it enters the main LAN, so you are ensured maximum security.

The smoothwall add-ons allow you to have Proxy server, web filtering and management plus very useful bandwidth management.

Are you also planning on running webservers / e-mail servers / VoIP & ToIP appliances or any other service? This requires extra firewall configuration and switch setup, to ensure it doesn't interfere with the rest of the LAN.

  Taran 04:27 06 Sep 05

This sounds like an assignment question...

First things first.

250 PCs for one hotel ?

Seriously ?

You will need far more than 'a switch and router'.


1. Are all PCs in one building or is the hotel a sprawling complex of buildings that will need to be connected to one another ?

2. What are the services the network will be delivering ? (Client management, email, web/intranet server, booking system etc)

3. Square footage and general number of floors etc that make up the building (there are general ruls of thumb and some legal requirements about area cover/hardware required, wire types/location within structure/routing)

4. Will all PCs use most (or all) of the services the network will be delivering ?

5. Will all PCs be part of a single network 'family' or will the network (hopefully) be subdivided into a logical (and more secure) series of subnet masks ?

6. Will wireless be integrated anywhere and if so, how will you intend delivering/controlling access to it ?

The number of servers to PCs will vary wildly depending on what you want to deliver over the network.

Printing will obviously require print servers, but since most high end networkable workgroup printers have a built in print server, one or more dedicated units may not be required. I'd imagine that like most networks not all users will be printing and, in fact, many will not require access to a print facility at all, while some users will not be able to live(0r function in a working environment) without it.

You will need to supply a lot of detail to get anywhere with this. Hardware and software selection comes after the nature of the network can be visualised and understood. There are potentially dozens of solutions that could work, but I suspect only a few that actually would work properly on something of this scale.

  Gaz 25 09:35 06 Sep 05

I didn't read 250 :-o

Notice I asked him how many PC's he had.

Anyway, yes... a hotel would require the purple cat5 cable in roofs, etc. It's non-toxic when exposed to flame.

It sure does seem like an assignment, because if you were doing this for a hotel - then you sure need a professional to do this.

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