CASE STUDIES:
 
PROJECT BRIEF: ACTIVE DIRECTORY MIGRATION #2
 

An accountant firm asked our expertise to carry out a migration of their existing peer to peer network to a server based network. and replace their aging Windows 9x computers by new ones.

First, we conducted a site survey to gather information on the network to be migrated:

Network Characteristics:

  • Each user had its data stored on its workstation’s hard drive
  • Shared data (accounting software data) were stored on a workstation acting as a file server
  • Workstations were running Windows 95 and Windows 98
  • 10Base-2 (BNC) topology network
  • Data archiving policy needed to be improved
  • No Internet connection available

Client Requirements:

  • Low cost server (hardware, software, maintenance and administration)
  • Offsite data backup
  • Move existing data to server
  • Provide advanced antivirus protection

SOLUTION

Switch-over
A migration plan and precise timeframes were released and approved by the client.
We then proceeded with the installation of the new switched 100Base-T network in parallel of the existing 10Base-2, installed an entry level server with hardware RAID for disk redundancy and chose Windows 2003 Small Business Server Standard Edition as the operating system. The new workstations were integrated into the new network and users moved one by one to the new network but were still able to access data on the Windows 98 file server. After the last user was moved, only 30mn were necessary to transfer the remaining shared data from the old network to the new one, and proceed with the final switch over and decommission of the old systems.

Security
As no Internet connection was available, the server was mainly set up in our facilities and loaded with the latest critical updates. All of the updates for Windows XP were downloaded via Microsoft Software Update Services and automatically distributed to the workstations once integrated into the Windows 2003 SBS network.
To protect the network against viruses, Symantec Antivirus Multi-Tier for Small Businesses enabled email scanning and real-time scanning of files on all systems which are kept up to date by installing virus definitions files from a media.

Data Archiving
Tape archiving is not always appropriate for small businesses:

  • Expensive high capacity drives
  • Frequent hardware failure
  • Tapes dependent on tape drive model
  • Cannot duplicate tapes
  • Backup speed

Instead, the Client opted for a high capacity removable USB hard drive for weekly off-site backups, and a CD writer for daily critical company files.
Backups are fast, transportable and can be accessed and duplicated from any other computer.

Low Administration & Maintenance Costs
Maintenance and administration of the network are reduced to the minimum by adopting:

  • Windows 2003 Small Business Server: a robust operating system perfectly tailored for small businesses that want to avoid costly IT maintenance
  • Identical PC specs and builds, and user roaming profiles eliminate the need of reconfiguring user settings when switching computers
  • Hardware RAID disk controller, high quality hard disks and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to increase the server’s uptime and protect data integrity
  • Hassle-free client/server antivirus
  • Detailed data backup procedures for Client’s staff

Collaborative Features
The electronic collaborative features from Microsoft Exchange 2003 © increased the users’ productivity and enlarged communication. Messaging and shared calendaring allows users to better organize and keep track of their tasks electronically.
When an Internet connection will be supplied to their office, users could then use Outlook Web Access to remotely access their messaging tools but also their files via Microsoft SharePoint Services 2003 ©.

OUTCOME

At the end of the project, we presented the new network and its features to the users so that they can optimally utilize their new IT systems.
The Client’s IT objectives are satisfied with the successful completion of this network upgrade project. This modern IT infrastructure provides reduced administration and maintenance costs, versatility, reliability and security and will continue to serve for years to come.