PineMartin Fuels Ltd supply heating oil to private homes and commercial installations, and provide a maintenance service for their customers’ equipment. They employ 15 clerical staff plus a number of service engineers and delivery drivers. Currently all customer details are held on PCs as are supplier information and accounts data. The site is in one building, over two floors, with 7 PCs upstairs in offices, one in each of the director’s offices and one in dispatch.
The staff who have to use the computer systems have received training and are familiar with the current system. Since not all data is held on all PCs, and data is only updated every few days, PineMartin are getting into difficulties with data inconsistency. This is resulting in customers becoming upset when orders are not delivered or service schedules not met. The directors, Mr. Pine and Mr Martin, are PC literate and have decided that the solution to their problem would be to network the PCs they have and hold the data centrally.
Since they have just recruited you, straight out of college, as a computer expert, the directors have asked you to provide a suitable network solution, which should be presented as a formal report. They are interested in both the technical aspects of the solution and of course the costs. Your reports should cover the following aspects of your proposed solution: 0) Addressing strategy. 1) Network operating system. 2) Wiring topology. 3) Disk storage organisation. 4) User name allocation. 5) Server and station hardware, in particular any new equipment that will be required. 6) Training or introductory information that may be required for users.
Before we build a network, we must first ask, what one is. A network is “a computer system that uses communications equipment to connect computers and their resources” (Capron, page 25). Addressing Strategy There are three different types of IP address classes. There are class A, class B and class C addresses. All Class A and B addresses have gone which means that I will have to use a class C address in-case the company needs to connect to the internet one day.
The IP address for each computer will be 192.168.0.01, the last section will change for each computer. For instance, the second computer in the network will be called 192.168.0.02 and so on. The table below shows these IP addresses. The way in which computers in a network communicate is called a protocol. The main advantage of a protocol is that “If all the computers on a network use the same protocol, they essentially speak the same “language” and can therefore communicate.” (http://www.hub-tech.net/neth.html) Some common protocols include TCP/IP and IPX. TCP/IP is the most common protocol found in networks. Each computer is assigned a TCP/IP address allowing them (the computers) to communicate. TCP/IP is also the protocol used by the internet due too its compatibility and routability.
IPX (Internetwork Packet eXchange) is a routable protocol originally developed by Novell for use in their networking environments. It is the second most common protocol under TCP/IP. IPX does not assign a unique address for each computer on a network. Instead it makes each computer put a broadcast out onto the network in order to send data. While IPX is fine for small networks, it can be inefficient for large networks.
Network Operating System The heart of a network is typically the server. The server machine is usually the fastest computer with the greatest storage and stability/redundancy. The server can provide login authentication, file storage, internet access, and many other features. Before I can decide on a network operating system, I think I should consider the operating system for the computers. The operating system allows hardware on the system to operate and assigns tasks for the hardware to carry out.
There are many operating systems available to the user. These include Unix, OS/2, Windows 95, Windows NT and Windows CE. I have decided to use Windows NT because it is a known network operating system (NOS). The network operating system is “responsible for handling all the tasks a network server faces” (http://www.hub-tech.net/neth.html) . These tasks can include printer sharing, login allocation, program sharing and file storage allocation.
Client-server or peer to peer networking? Client-server networking is when a computer communicates with a server over a network. This type of network is mainly used with medium to large company networks. Peer to peer networking is when each machine on network acts as both a server and client at the same time. This means that “All machines on a peer-to-peer network are “equal” and typically don’t have more load than any other machine on the network.” (http://www.hub-tech.net/neth.html) .
This type of networking is mainly used on the Windows 95/98 operating system. One of the main problems with Peer to peer networking is that this system can be difficult to implement and can’t handle a vast amount of computers, which is a bad feature if the company wishes to expand. One of the main advantages of client-server networking is that the login system allows every person in the office to access any computer on the network with one username and password. This is good because if the network was peer to peer, a single user would have to have a different username and password for every single computer in the office. This would mean that the user would have to write down a username/password for every machine which would be a threat to network security if the piece of paper was lost. This is why I have decided to use a client-server network.