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Building an ICT Network A guide for Small and Remote First Nations Communities

Author:

Jesse P. Gordon

Sponsors

A guide for Small and Remote First Nations Communities Author: Jesse P. Gordon Sponsors Revised Edition

Revised Edition 2011

A guide for Small and Remote First Nations Communities Author: Jesse P. Gordon Sponsors Revised Edition

Building a First Nations ICT Network

INTRODUCTION

This is a curious document. It is part history, part diary and part lecture. You see, it is an attempt to take the experience of the last decade of building a computing network at the Namgis First Nation and condense it into a kind of guidebook that may help other small and remote communities build a reliable ICT network that will support their journey into the future. ICT, or Information and Communications Technology, is an interesting subject. It changes faster that we can finish our morning coffee. It is always throwing new gadgets and gizmos in our path and insisting that this is the next „must-have‟ technology. But, when we invest our scarce and hard-won dollars in it, it seldom works the way we expected, or hoped, that it would. It is possible to pick the best and most suitable from the herd, put it to work and realize great benefit from it. It is possible to achieve a stable, reliable system that serves many people without having the budget of the US Federal Government to spend. It is possible to do amazing things in terms of communicating with people, gathering and summarizing information, planning, documenting, archiving; all of this towards providing people with the information they need, when they need it. Let us not forget, however, that the name of the game here is ICT: Information and Communication Technology. It is about capturing, managing, storing and retrieving INFORMATION: it is not about having a machine make decisions for you. It is about using a variety of different ways to COMMUNICATE more easily and effectively: it is not about isolating people or distancing them from each other.

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As you will see in the remainder of this work, there are many steps involved in creating a solid, reliable ICT network. Some of these steps must be done before others, some of them are a good idea but not essential and some of the steps you will read about are purely optional; you can do them or not as your budget, needs and situation allow. All of the steps contained here do work (or, if they don‟t, they are provided as an example of what not to do and described as such). Before we embark on this journey of discovery, please let me take a moment to acknowledge the invaluable assistance of the First Nations Technology Council and of Network BC in making this work possible.

A LITTLE HISTORY

In 1996 the Namgis First Nation was much like most First Nations communities in BC. It was working to provide services to its on-reserve members and to keep the off-reserve members informed about what was going on at home. At that time, the Namgis had one very important head-start: they had instituted clear formal financial controls. In the wake of financial difficulties, the Chief and Council had decided to implement a much more rigid financial management system that is modeled after the type used by the Provincial Government. This decision put in play the need for better information management. At the time, the Namgis offices were located in separate buildings; the Band office was in the old Residential School building and the Health Center was across the road. The School and Daycare buildings were located about 6 blocks away at the top of the hill. There were only a few computers (simple „286 PCs) in use in the Band office. The accounting department had four workstations connected with a crude 10-Base-T Coax network. This department had the only integrated application, AccPac Accounting. The Health Center had six or so workstations scattered about, with one

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shared workstation in the hallway for people to use to check hosted email and do a little internet searching. Internet was all dial-up and the whole Band administration, about 60 people, shared three dial-up accounts. The most common computing activity was writing letters, reports and applications with MS-Word and program planning and tracking using Excel. There were no backup procedures in place and the danger of loss of information was huge. The experiences of losing data due to hard disk failure, or to the absence or sudden departure of staff, were compelling reasons for the Namgis to start looking for better IT tools. The very first activity in this 10-year journey was the removal of the unreliable Coax network and its replacement with an Ethernet network that connected the accounting group as well as those Band administration staff who had desktop computers. This continued with the installation of a separate Ethernet network across the road in the Health Center. These were initially workgroup, or peer-to-peer networks with no server and no network login, but they did enable folks to share a laser printer and to share files with each other. Soon, another phone line was added so that the Band office could share 2 lines and the Health Center had 2 for their use. Internet and especially email were beginning to be seen as essential rather than optional. Then came the day when the Health Center Director called a meeting to share the news that an unauthorized person had gotten into the Health Center and was caught looking at files on one of the computers. This changed everything. Council asked what options were available to prevent unauthorized access to Band computers. It was decided that we would spend the money to install Windows NT login servers. Windows NT was a clumsy beast by today‟s standards. It demanded a lot of study and very cautious management, but it worked and became the basis for the Namgis network of today. By keeping the network as simple as possible and by

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carefully measuring every new addition to the network on the basis of its impact on already established facilities we were able to keep the NT network running most of the time. Namgis staff were now logging on to a real computer network every day when they came to work. They were able to send email to each other inside the network and have it delivered instantly. They were able to email documents and spreadsheets around the organization without difficulty. Outside email was sent to a mail server that forwarded it when the dial-up connection was available. People did not have to wait for the dial-up line to become free to do their outside email work. The Namgis network was beginning to pay off. Backup was still a big issue. Computer workstations were still completely dependent on floppy disks. Each staff member was responsible to do their own backup and most often it did not get done. The next unpleasant surprise was the introduction of a virus into the Namgis network (the only time this ever happened) not via Internet but by the use of an infected floppy disk brought from home. We tried using Zip drives, tape units and even a Linux-based backup system which was run from its own server. This was a dismal failure, the company went out of business and the investment of over $2,000.00 was the one waste of money that the tech staff has had to admit to. (We still have that server around as a reminder.) The next big step was when our new Band office building was built. During construction, Technical Services was able to have network wiring installed so that every office had suitable Ethernet cabling. A small but serviceable room in the center of the building was allocated for a server room/workshop for the technicians. At about this time our school was provided with a satellite internet service through Industry Canada. This was so much better than dial-up service that we decided to invest in this technology for the Band Office. It was installed and worked quite well for over 3 years.

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So, we were able to provide quite good service to the Band Office, but the Health Center was falling way behind in the level of service that the Band office was receiving. The new location of the Band Office was up on the hill, near the School and 6 blocks away from the Health Center. Tech staff spent half of their time running back and forth between buildings. We tried every way we could think of to get an Ethernet link between buildings. Finally we were able to brow-beat Telus into installing a dedicated cable between buildings for us. This was a minor miracle and one that I doubt anyone could succeed in getting done today. With this hard-wired link between buildings we were able to finally tie the two separate networks together into a single network. This began a concerted effort to connect all of our buildings and offices into a single, cohesive network. By taking advantage of the emerging low cost wireless technology, we were able to link buildings without wires and for only a few hundred dollars per link. This was completed when we finally linked our Hatchery, which is 10 km away from the reserve on Vancouver Island, into the Namgis network. Of course, as time progressed, demand for more sophisticated internet services increased throughout the Namgis. We heard of an ISP who had committed to provide network services from Port McNeill (about 8 km away over water) to Alert Bay‟s Provincial elementary school. This same company was heavily engaged in delivering Cable internet services in Port Hardy and Port McNeill. We managed to talk them into offering cable internet service to Alert Bay, a move they had not intended to make. When this service came on-line in 2002, we purchased 4 cable connections and used a clever load-balancing router to distribute the load from the whole network over these four connections. Finally, we had adequate bandwidth for our staff and for the community as a whole. IN 2003 we purchased a new phone system. People wanted voicemail and all of the other features offered by an all-digital phone network. This turned out to be a huge advance in our Band infrastructure. By connecting phones over our Ethernet

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network, folks in outlying offices could have full service phones without requiring expensive phone company services. IN 2006 we moved up to a direct fiber (10 Mbps) internet service from Telus, obtained under the FNTC Connectivity project. With this we have added videoconferencing and webcasting. We are poised to participate in Telemedicine and, we have re-routed most of our long-distance phone calls over VoIP services from Vonage. We have remote offices located in Port Hardy and Campbell River, both of which have phones that are members of our Band phone system. All Band staff, from Councilors to clerks, can access their email, files and current work from anywhere they are. We are very pleased with the investments we have made in our IT infrastructure. We see benefits from it every day and we have every intention of continuing to evolve and grow our network in the future.

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As you can see from this short recount of the evolution of the Namgis network, there are a number of essential points that you should keep in mind when building a First Nations network:

Success is founded on planning

make a commitment to your technical development and stick with it

provide the best services you can at the time, then upgrade them when you are able

ensure that Band management, Chief and Council know what you are doing and where you want to go

follow the plan; build the basic layers first

give people time to adapt to the new technology you provide for them; they will be asking for more sooner than you think

listen to the users, they will tell you what they need and when they need it…

So, with that as a context for the rest of this guide, let‟s….

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BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING

In most discussions of computers and technology topics in general, it is usual to begin with some definitions of what system architecture or operating system or what <submit the technical parameter or your choice here> the document pertains to. It will then go on to describe how the <whatever it is> will redefine your „paradigm‟ of the information society and proceed to bury you under a lot of technical stuff. Well, we are going to do our best not to do that here. We are going to take a look at why we would want an ICT network and what we want it to do for us. Then, we will continue with a discussion of the TYPE of technology you can use to meet the needs and objectives of the organization (Band Administration, Tribal Council or whatever). The decision of which computers, what operating system and which programs will be left up to you. These will vary with your location, what services and support you may have available either in-house or nearby and the types of programs and services you need to support. We will, however, make some suggestions and even some recommendations about some particular products that we have found useful in the past. One of the most difficult things to do when you are starting out to build an ICT network is getting rid of your assumptions. If you have preconceived ideas that Linux is better than Windows or Apple Mac is the only way to go, you may be setting yourself up for some very difficult times. Don‟t start with technical assumptions and DON‟T try to dump the task on a consultant or computer store and expect that they will solve all of your ICT problems. This will not happen. You can use these folks as resources and they can be very helpful, but they cannot do the whole job for you.

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What do we do and who do we do it for?

To be relevant, and therefore useful, an ICT network must be designed with the needs, objectives and procedures of its owners (the users) in mind. It is important to remember that an ICT network is a SERVICE provider it exists to provide an assortment of services to those inconvenient critters: the users. However the users are there to provide SERVICES to the organization they work for in our case the First Nation, Tribal Council or other regional authority that, in turn, provides SERVICES to the ultimate bosses the Band Members. So, our ICT network must be planned and executed to provide those information services that ultimately aid in the delivery of Programs and Services to the members of the community. We can take some things for granted: our network will provide e-mail, file and printer sharing, user authentication and some other basic network services. We can take these things for granted because just about everyone needs them: there are very few networks that do not have some or all of these basic facilities. Many things we cannot take for granted. Types and configurations of accounting systems, shared calendars and resource booking (meeting rooms, projectors, etc.), databases and their client applications, Internet access and restrictions: these will vary significantly from one network to the next. So how do we begin to build a network that will meet the basic needs as well as the specific needs of the community in which we live and work? Planning, planning and more planning!

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What’s the plan, man?

Planning is absolutely essential in creating and maintaining a solid, reliable ICT network. We must plan at almost every level of the lifecycle of the network. Since we have determined that our network must meet the needs of the community, by meeting the needs of the Band Administration, by meeting the needs of the front-line workers, the users, we must start with a picture of what those needs are.

Is this a big job? You bet! But, as it has often been said that to eat an elephant you must proceed one bite at a time. Let‟s look at how we can break the problem down into bite-size pieces.

Top-down planning is the most straightforward way of developing a meaningful plan for something as complex as an ICT network. In top-down planning, we start at the top: what does the whole community look like? What needs does it have? If it contains a Health Center, what sort of information management needs will the Doctor have, the Public Health Nurse, the Health Center Administrator? Does the Band Administration have an accounting department or is the financial management outsourced to an accounting firm that issues cheques, pays bills, and provides the Band Administration with summary reports? Start with a sketch that contains the major activities for your community the ones that your network will have to support. One way to do this is to draw a sketch showing a box to represent each of the buildings that house the various Band programs and services. Then, divide these boxes into the various departments or programs that live in each building.

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Building a First Nations ICT Network Fig 1 – Community ICT Map This will give you

Fig 1 Community ICT Map

This will give you a starting point for making a list of the specific needs of each group in your Band administration. Now that you have this top view, it‟s time to make a similar map, one for each department or program of your Band administration: It will look something like this:

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Building a First Nations ICT Network Fig 2 – ICT Breakdown It might already be obvious

Fig 2 ICT Breakdown

It might already be obvious that your Health Center will need some type of database for keeping track of its Patient Travel. The Doctor‟s Clinic (if you have one) will need a Practice Management system that is very secure, since Doctors are legally responsible for keeping their patient records private. However be patient with this

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process. Having a way to visualize all of your Band activities and seeing the number and relationships to each other will prove invaluable. Now that you can see what each group in the Band has been tasked with, we proceed with the lowest level of our planning: the Data Needs Assessment.

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Building a First Nations ICT Network Fig 2 – ICT Needs detail 15

Fig 2 ICT Needs detail

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This is the most directly useful of the planning steps. You create a sheet for each program or area of responsibility for each department of the Band Administration. Your Data Needs Assessment worksheet should do its best to describe in detail all aspects of that activity from a data (information) point of view. At a very minimum, it should include:

the information generated by the activity (when was a house built, how much did it cost, who built it, what are its dimensions, …)

the information needed to properly perform the activity (when will the roof need to be re-done, when was the furnace last serviced, …)

what reporting is required, to who (INAC, Band Housing Committee, homeowner,…) and how often

A sample Data Needs Planning Worksheet is included in the Appendix. The next level of planning involves the people you serve the users. Take your Departmental Plan, along with your Data Needs Assessments, and talk to each of the operating areas to find out what THEY think they need write it all down - and most of all, listen! These people know very well what they need to get done. They probably will not know how to translate this knowledge into a technical system definition that

they can hand over to you actually, that is your job. So listen carefully and, when you have finished discussing the department‟s needs with its staff, use this information to update your Data Needs Assessments for each activity. You should now know MOST of what you need to know to define the software and network facilities that will meet the needs of your Band.

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I’m sorry, but it’s a matter of Policy

Most organizations have some policies that define how things are done. Your Band may have a personnel policy, an accounting policy, an information request policy and possibly a lot of other policies besides. It‟s a funny thing about formal written policies; people write them, adopt them and then mostly ignore them except when something goes wrong. Then, everyone involved in the problem refers back to the policy and starts shouting “Why wasn‟t this policy followed?” It is very important that the person building the ICT network is fully aware of the organization‟s policies. If your information system is going to operate correctly then it will have to be designed so that every business process complies with the policies and regulations of the organization and, for that matter, Provincial and Federal Laws. Does this mean that you, the ICT guy (or gal) has to be familiar with Federal and Provincial laws? No, it doesn‟t. It is the responsibility of the Band Administration to ensure that the Band is in compliance at all times. They do that by preparing and enforcing policies and these you do need to know about. So it is very important that you read ALL of the Band policies and regulations that apply to the handling, storing and retrieval of information. Let‟s look at an example: in our exercises below we will be considering a First Nation that has an on-reserve Health Center. This means that the workers in the Health Center will be coming in contact with people‟s Medical Records. There are a bunch of both Federal and Provincial regulations about the protection of a person‟s privacy when it comes to their medical records and the Health Center‟s policies will no doubt reflect those regulations in their own policies. This will mean that only certain people can look up a citizen‟s medical records and even then only certain parts of them. If your computing network is not able to assign individual user access rights on folders or documents (or records in a database) then you will not be in

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compliance with the Federal and Provincial regulations or with the Health Center‟s policies. Likewise, accounting information is frequently confidential and your process for handling outside requests for information must ensure that the way that these requests are filled is in compliance with Band policy. You wouldn‟t want a member who requested his or her own housing financial records receiving a report that included housing financial data for all of the other Band members, would you? If you are not sure how to ensure that your ICT system can be configured to comply with Band policy, then this is where you need to ask for help. Involve the Band Manager, Accountant, Health Center Director and possibly a competent consultant to work out an access map for Band information. We will look at how user access is assigned at various levels from a technical point of view further on in this guide.

Everything is a process

Building an ICT network is a dynamic process, not a construction job. One of the most disconcerting things to non-techies is the idea that the network never stops growing, changing and evolving. At the beginning of a new network project, the growth is very rapid, change is very fast. But even after it is „up-and-running‟ it will be changing to meet the changing demands of the users, the Band and technology itself. You can start out with a simple peer-to-peer network with 12 or 15 users, each with their own workstation, and 4 or 5 workgroup printers scattered about. The process of getting this ready and running is pretty simple:

purchase computers install basic word processing and spreadsheet software on all computers

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place your printers

install the Ethernet cables

configure the network cards on your computers

configure the printer sharing

do some staff training to show everyone how the computers work and how to select a printer

and Voila! You have a network right? Well, yes. In fact at this point you do have a network. So why would anyone go to more trouble than that? Why write a whole long-winded effort like this if it is that simple? Because, unfortunately, it is not that simple. One of the first things that will happen after everyone gets comfortable with your new network is that someone will ask you, as the all-knowing technical guru, how they can share a file with a co-worker or someone in another department. Or, how can they save all of the copies of a particular form in one place so that Department Heads can all see them, but other staff cannot. And how about arranging it so that senior staff can see the Accounting Balance Sheet whenever they want to? Then that they will want email and internet access and access to their files and desktop when they are away traveling, and… You see, as soon as people get comfortable with a certain level of ICT service, they want more. And it is a good thing that they do, because that is how the whole organization knows that the ICT network is worth the investment. If you are the network technician, or the champion, or just one of the go-to people in your department, there is one thing that you can count on: the network will change!

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O Users where art thou?

As I said before, the users are the reason for the network. It exists to help them do what they have been hired to do. It is not the software and hardware that produces a report for Council: it is a user who has entered the data, checked the accuracy of the input and run the report function that produces a report for Council. In order to serve the users (and ensure that the ICT network does its job) you must know where the users are. That means both physically and mentally. The physical location of a user is important in terms of what you will need to do to ensure that they have a reliable connection to the network. If they are in another building, how are you going to reach their desk? There are several choices for connecting between buildings and the most appropriate option for any given situation will depend on the accessibility of the user, the total network traffic the particular user can be expected to generate, the higher the user is on a „mission critical‟ scale and the cost of the various options. For example, let‟s take the comparison of connecting the Nursing Station or the Recreation Center. Since the Nursing Station is concerned with people‟s health and is often called on to deal with life-threatening situations, whereas the Recreation Center, while enjoyed by far more people, is primarily concerned with entertainment and exercise, it would be fair to say that the Nursing Station if far more important than the Rec Center when it comes to reliable data services. It follows then that we can justify far more cost to ensure the Nursing station is connected than the Rec Center. Designing and planning your network will involve a number of similar decisions and the more systematic you are about evaluating them beforehand, the easier the project will be.

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Draw a simple sketch to show the physical locations of your users and give each location an “importance rank”. This will help guide you when you are laying out your network and deciding whether to use wired, wireless or dial-up connections.

and deciding whether to use wired, wireless or dial-up connections. Fig 5 – Sketch of Inter-building

Fig 5 Sketch of Inter-building connections

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Making diagrams like this one can be very helpful when you need to go back and remind yourself why you made a particular choice. Keep them.

The mental location of your users is even more important. If your ICT network is going to be useful to your users, and thus to your Band, you need to know what they are going to need to learn to do in order to use it effectively. In any group of people there will be those who take to new technology like a „duck to water‟ and those who will have a real struggle with it (more like a cat in water). As a network planner, you will have to decide where the middle ground is. Network facilities should not be chosen because they are the „coolest‟ and most state- of-the-art available. All of these advanced features are based on earlier, simpler models and require some prior understanding to grasp and use. The cats will have a very hard time with advanced features and may never adapt to them at all. On the other hand, you should not lower your network capabilities to the comfort level of the cats the ducks will feel that the network is too simplistic and does not meet their needs. One of the best tools to help you with this „ducks and cats‟ situation is a User Skills Survey. This is a quite simple look at the technical skill levels of your users. It helps to identify who is well ahead of the curve, who will resist anything new in their world, and who you can count on to accept change gracefully. A User Needs Survey should be composed to discover:

what technical skills all users have (and take for granted) - this is your baseline and may extend only to using e-mail and operating the software that is specific to their job.

what new software or technology has be introduced within the last couple of years and how people adapted to it

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how your leaders (Band Manager, Head Accountant, etc.) feel about technology (you need to know this so you can tell how much they are going to back you up when you want to introduce change and when you will need money to get something done)

which departments or programs need the highest levels of technology to support their work and what they are using now

what kind of training people believe works best for them (Classroom, Tutorial, On-line, etc.)

what kind of workload people carry and how difficult (or not) it will be for them to take time away from their job to learn new technology

A sample User Needs Survey form has been provided for you in the „Forms and References‟ section at the back of this book. Look it over carefully. It may be that some of the survey questions will not apply to your situation or you may need to compose some of your own questions to get information that is unique to your Band, but the form supplied should give you a good idea of what to look for. Once you have a Survey form prepared, here is how you should go about getting them filled in:

Conduct your User Needs Survey carefully and in person. Do not try to email the survey out to people you will almost certainly get a poor or no response.

Always have a notebook on hand to record items that come up during the survey interview that are outside the survey questions but need to be remembered. You will be surprised at the gems of information you can discover this way.

Keep the survey forms organized by department or working group. If your group is small (less than 20 people) then this is not so

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important, but it is important that you can interpret the responses in context to the work area they represent.

Do your best to organize the survey so that you interview everyone in a 2 or 3 day period (depending on the size of your organization). If the survey process gets too strung-out you run the risk of having the situation change before you are finished. This survey is supposed to be a snapshot of the organization at a point in time. Don‟t forget that the very purpose of taking this survey is so that you can begin to change things in your organization.

When your survey is completed, you will need to spend some time organizing your results. Refer back to the list of questions that the survey is intended to answer and sort through your survey responses to extract and group user‟s answers under each question. Then, read through the answers in each group and condense all of the common replies into a „group answer‟. Don‟t worry about the really unusual replies at this point you can come back to them later - right now you are looking for the common perceptions that all of your users share. All of your responses will be in the form of subjective replies to your questions; people will tell you what they think or how they feel about the topic. It is your job to translate these replies into the appropriate hardware or software that will meet the needs that your users have expressed. If you have the knowledge how to evaluate the user‟s needs and meet them with specific hardware and software, go for it! This process will be very straightforward for you.

If you do not have this knowledge (and most of us do not) then this is a great time to ask for advice. You may choose to hire a consultant. You could ask for some ideas from another Band ICT person. You could ask for help from the FNTC or a similar support organization. Your last choice for advice should be your computer

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vendor the business that sells you computers and software: these folks have a vested interest in selling you the products that they carry whether or not they meet your needs. This is not to suggest that all vendors are unreliable sources of support far from it. However when you are building a new network, you will need unbiased advice to pick the approach that will sustain your Band for the long term. Vendors are usually thinking about their bottom line, not your best interests. Don‟t worry about cost or feasibility at this point – it‟s a good thing if you wind up with a picture of an “ideal” network. In fact, it is the whole point of this exercise. Later you will start fitting this “ideal” network into the real world of dollars and cents.

Physical, Virtual and Conceptual

There is one concept, or group of ideas, that the hot-shot network guys know about and which the rest of us simple small-system guys often never learn: the difference between a physical system and a virtual system. Physical systems are just that: physical. They exist as physical parts and

pieces a computer, a server, a printer, a router. Many networks have been built where every functional part is a physical entity. This approach has some advantages:

physical networks are easier to fix when they break it is easier to isolate the problem and therefore easier to fix it

failures are usually localized to the part that breaks a fault in the accounting server will not stop work in Social Services

they are easier to understand: this box does that job, that box does this other job

However pure physical networks also have some disadvantages:

physical networks have many more pieces in them that may be strictly necessary

they require more Ethernet wiring and connections, all of which need to be documented and maintained

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they cost more

they tend to grow in both space and power needs

Virtual systems are built is such a way that a single larger and more powerful server computer may host several virtual servers, each of which operates independently and appears to the network and the users as a discreet server. Similarly, routers, print servers and a variety of other network functions can be

hosted on a single computer located in a workgroup area. The advantages of virtual systems are:

fewer physical units to deal with

much smaller space requirements

fewer network connections

lower capital cost

But, as above, there are disadvantages:

servers need to be MUCH more powerful (and expensive)

failures usually affect larger groups of users (or the whole network)

diagnosing and solving problems may be much more complicated

good network documentation is ESSENTIAL

a higher level of technical skill required to manage and maintain

Most networks start out being Physical and slowly migrate toward being more and more Virtual. This makes sense; as user needs evolve and technical skills improve there is a natural inclination towards adding functions on existing hardware rather than buying a new small server every time a new need appears. Whichever approach you choose for your network, there remains one very important aspect of building networks: the network Concept. At some point you will need to develop an overall concept of your network something like a picture in your head (or on paper) of where everything is, what it does and what it connects to or

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relies on. It is almost impossible to manage a computing network until you can visualize the whole thing. Technicians who are hired to manage an existing network will invariably spend an uncomfortable few weeks until they build a mental image of their new baby. Happily, since you are building the whole thing from the ground up, you will develop this image as you go.

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Cost the real first law of computing

Ah, yes – the almighty dollar. Without it you can‟t do much of anything; with it you can move the world. The actual direct costs of building a computing network are relatively straightforward to calculate: a server costs $XXX, printers cost $YYY, internet access costs $ZZZ. If, as we talked about above, you have a clear network concept, it will not be difficult to list out the parts, get some quotes and add it all up. You should be very aware when starting out on a network project that there are many, MANY costs that are not obvious and some that are downright hidden. One of these is time. Everything that people do takes time and therefore costs money. When you are planning your network project you are going to have to get the money from somewhere. This usually means going to Council or the Band Manager and getting approval for allocation of existing funds or for a grant application. Either way, whoever you need to ask will want to know how much it is going to cost. If you tell them that it will cost the sum of your estimates of hardware and software, you will almost certainly be short of money before the network is done. You need to factor in a lot of variables:

How long will it take to get the money in hand so you can begin?

How long will it take to get the orders placed?

How long to receive the new equipment?

How long to install the Server software and get all of the network services up-and-running?

How long will it take to install the Ethernet wiring?

How long will it take to set up and configure the wireless network links?

How long will it take to get help if you need it?

How long will it take to set up your network users with logins, email and other basics?

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Building a First Nations ICT Network

How long will it take to set up workgroup printers?

How much time will you need to train the users (both ducks and cats)?

If you ask for money for a network project, make sure that you ask for more than you will need. It is much better to have money left over at the end of the project than to have to go back and ask for more. But, don‟t get too carried away… One important thing to plan for is periodic reporting to whoever you work for on the progress of the project. If you run into difficulties you will need the support of your supervisor to help get things back on track. This is far easier to get if you have kept them informed of the state of the project as it goes along. Alright; you have your network built, the users are happy and you have even managed to hand back a few thousand dollars of the funding „cause you thought of everything and brought it in under budget. Hooray!! Were done, right? WRONG! We now have to make sure that this complicated beast runs as it was intended to do ALL day, EVERY day. For the next 20 yearsWhen you planned your network budget, did you plan for operating costs, maintenance, upgrades, replacement of over-life components? The average service life of a server computer is about 4 years. You could push that to 5 or even 6, but with all those years of critical Band data residing on the machine, it is worth it? A planned server replacement can be done on a weekend, ensuring that users are not disrupted in their work. A machine failure can have everyone sitting around twiddling their thumbs until it is fixed or replaced. Your budget should include all of the capital costs of building the network together with the operating costs for at least 5 years (i.e. beyond the first service life replacement) There are a series of budgeting aids available in the Reference section at the end of this guide.

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Building a First Nations ICT Network

Ok, but what if it breaks?

One of the most important planning tasks you will need to do, and do well, is to plan for failures. Believe me, they will happen. And when a failure does occur, what will you do? Few of us have the luxury of having a replacement unit on hand, already configured, to fit into place. You will need to have a plan in place, complete with timelines, to get the system back up and working in the shortest possible time. Remember, if the network is not working, then the users are not working, but they are still costing the Band money. I have found that failures can be classified as one of four types of events:

Single user disruption a system failure that effects only one user and which may be a workstation or local wiring problem (unless the user is alone in a linked building) and may or may not render their workstation inoperable.

Local service disruption this is a failure that effects a smaller localized group of users and which may or may not render their workstations inoperable.

Multiple service area disruption this is a failure that effects several workgroups or all of the users in a particular building and may or may not render their workstations inoperable

Total service disruption the whole network is down. All shared services (login, email, shared printers or file stores) are unavailable. One or all of the server-based applications are not available to users. Workstations may or may not be operable

There is nothing quite as alarming as your first system failure when you are the techno-geek” that has just spent a bunch of the Band‟s money on a computing

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network. Having a failure response plan will save you a lot of time by reminding you of the steps you need to follow to diagnose the system and get it up and running. One of the most common mistakes technicians make with their own network when there is a failure is getting caught up in trying to find out why it failed. Identifying what has failed and how to get it working is the FIRST priority in any network failure. Why it failed is important later after the problem has been fixed and you want to know how to prevent it from happening again. We will spend more time on network maintenance, fault diagnosis and other management techniques later on in this book. The essential point to be made here is that you must have a plan as to how to react to a network failure. Have a look at the sample failure response plan in the References section.

Policies, guidelines and the big stick

Users are individual people and every one of them will have their own ideas about the computers they use, the software they are tasked with and the network you have built for them. People will generally use the resources provided to them appropriately, but sometimes users will abuse them or use them in ways that their employer deems inappropriate. What constitutes appropriate, or inappropriate, use of computing resources is a Band decision. The Band, after all, is the employer. It is up to them if employees are permitted to use their email for personal messages or not. Most organizations will impose restrictions on user‟s access to social Internet sites such as FaceBook or YouTube. Issues like confidentiality, appropriate communications and suitable behavior are most often covered by some kind of Personnel Policy. When each user selected a computer workstation for their own needs, it did not matter very much if one has Windows 2000, another is running Windows XP or Vista

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and someone else has a MacBook laptop. Personal taste in software, printers and accessories are likewise less important in a non-networked environment. When the Band has a network, however, then personal choice has to go out the window (no pun intended). Networks rely on standardization for their most effective benefits: document standards, equipment standards, connection standards, all kinds of standards. Although most modern computing networks can handle a mix of workstations and peripherals, the wider the variety or operating systems and hardware on your network, the larger the opportunity for network conflicts and problems arising from unpredictable system behavior and the more the technician(s) need to know to support these various systems. A number of factors need to be considered in a Band network:

how is network backup going to be handled? Is there a standard backup utility that must be resident on all workstations that will ensure reliable backup? Which workstation OS are supported by the backup system?

how are updates (anti-virus, software versions and OS hot-fixes) going to be distributed to the user‟s workstations?

How are shared documents going to be handled? If some users are familiar with MS-Word and others use Quark on the Mac, which standard will be adopted?

…. (there will be more of these, depending on your users and what is in use already)

Needless to say, no one in a mixed computing environment will want to be the one who has to change, but somebody will have to. The only way to enforce the

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change is through a Band-approved and fairly enforced policy document that lays out the rules that everyone will have to follow. Also, as your network grows, issues like purchasing new workstations need to be handled within a policy that ensures that users and departments will not buy whatever they prefer; disregarding what will best suit the network.

A sample computing policy has been included in the Reference section that may

help you develop a workable policy for your organization. Modify this to suit your

needs and make sure your Band Council has adopted it BEFORE you start making major changes to the way your Band uses technology.

If users see YOU as the source of their change-anxiety, you will be the enemy for

ever after.

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Building a First Nations ICT Network 34

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LETS BUILD A NETWORK

In order to make some sense out of the ideas, concepts and principals we discussed above, we are going to walk through the creation of a brand-new simple

network. For the sake of simplicity, our network will serve a mythical example, fairly remote Band, named MEFN (Mythical Example First Nation), located about 60 Km from the nearest town. The Band is made up of about 350 members on reserve and about 100 off-reserve members living in several cities.

Our MEFN has a Chief and Council consisting of 7 people, each of who has a specific portfolio and who are directly involved in various aspects of the day-to-day operation of the Band. The Chief and Councilors share an office that holds 2 computers.

We also have a Band Office with 7 employees a Band Manager, Accountant, two Accounting Clerks, A Lands and Resources manager, a Treaty coordinator and you the Computer person.

MEFN has a small Health Center with 6 employees the Center manager, reception and Patient Travel, a Public Health nurse, a Substance Abuse Counselor and two Home Care workers who share the same workstation. The Health Center manager has recently decided to use integrated information system software to better keep track of patient records and services provided. This software will require that all Health Center staff have access to a common application on a server. This is one of the major driving forces behind setting up a network for MEFN.

Our Social Services group has 3 people the Social Services manager, a Children and Families worker and an SA clerk.

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We also provide two workstations in the Recreation Center for the use of all Band members (the public) after hours.

That makes for a total of 19 computers.

At present, each of the people listed each have a computer that they use to do their work. All are Microsoft Windows computers (we don’t want to make our example too complicated) with some using Windows XP, a few using Windows 2000 and the workstations in the Rec Center still on Windows 98. Phone service is generally OK but there is no other option for internet service on the reserve at this time, so our Band has 3 dial-up accounts with an ISP in the town 60 kilometers away. These are used by people at a scheduled time of the morning to read and send email and are available in the afternoons for internet research. The Rec Center machines are only available to the band members after the Band Office has closed. We at MEFN have just received notice that we are scheduled for industrial Internet a 3.5Megabit high-speed connection courtesy of the Government of BC‟s First Nations Connectivity program. The install date for this is 6 months away. We have met with Chief and Council and the Band manager and it has been agreed that, provided we can get funding, it is time to bring the computing activities in our Band into a proper network. That just about describes our mythical example Band operation. Let‟s go through the planning process and see what our starting network would look like.

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Plan, Plan, Plan your Work (to the tune of Row, Row, Row your Boat)

First we draw our ICT Community Map.

Row, Row, Row your Boat ” ) First – we draw our ICT Community Map. Figure

Figure 6 ICT Overview identifies groups

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Next our ICT Breakdown of each group identified above. Here we want to identify individual users.

identified above. Here we want to identify individual users. ICT Breakdown - Administration Group – identifies

ICT Breakdown - Administration Group identifies individual users

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Continued…

Building a First Nations ICT Network Continued… Figure 7 - ICT Breakdown – Health Center –

Figure 7 - ICT Breakdown Health Center identifies individual users

– Health Center – identifies individual users Figure 8 - ICT Breakdown – Social Services Group

Figure 8 - ICT Breakdown Social Services Group identifies individual users

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Building a First Nations ICT Network Figure 9 - ICT Breakdown - Community Group – identifies

Figure 9 - ICT Breakdown - Community Group identifies individual users

Next, we want to detail the tasks that each user is required to do that will use computing resources. At this point we will also save a step and indicate whether the task will use software that is located on a server and whether or not it will need internet access. The best tool for this is a spreadsheet.

     

ICT Breakdown - Level 3

   
     

for MEFN

Server

 

Grou

Position

User

Task

Hosted

Inet

p

ADMINISTRATION

       
 

Chief

John R.

Correspondence, meetings, resolutions & research

No

yes

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Counselor

Bev

Correspondence, meetings, resolutions & research

No

yes

Counselor

Jim

Correspondence, meetings, resolutions & research

No

yes

Counselor

Don

Correspondence, meetings, resolutions & research

No

yes

Counselor

Jerry

Correspondence, meetings, resolutions & research

No

yes

Counselor

Jack

Correspondence, meetings, resolutions & research

No

yes

Counselor

Victoria

Correspondence, meetings, resolutions & research

No

yes

Counselor

Jenny

Correspondence, meetings, resolutions & research

No

yes

Counselor

Tim

Correspondence, meetings, resolutions & research

No

yes

Counselor

Leland

Correspondence, meetings, resolutions & research

No

yes

Band

James

forms, applications corresp, letters and general

No

yes

Manager

Accountant

Mary

G/L, reports, audits, policies and procedures

Yes

yes

Clerk #1

Irene

A/P, A/R, Housing, program acct.

Yes

no

Clerk #2

Debora

membership, permits, licenses, help Clerk

Yes

no

#1

Lands &

Ralph

land use apps, research, corresp.

No

yes

Resources

Computing

Me

network mgt., tech support, tech purchasing

Yes

yes

Services

   

Number of computers: 8

   
   

Number of Server Hosted: 4

   
   

Number of Internet: 6

   

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HEALTH CENTER

       
 

Manager

Joslyn

Applications, corresp., letters, reports, research

Yes

yes

 

Reception/Pt

Nicki

Corresp., PT Records, schedules, letters

Yes

yes

nt. Trv.

 

Public

Nancy

Program mgt., corresp, letters, reports, research

Yes

yes

Health Nurse

 

Subst.

Patrick

Corresp., records, letters, research

Yes

yes

Abuse Cnslr.

 

Homecare 1

Evelyn

Reports, schedules, letters

Yes

no

 

HomeCare 2

Doris

Reports, schedules, letters

Yes

no

     

Number of computers: 6

   
     

Number of Server Hosted: 6

   
     

Number of Internet: 4

   

SOCIAL SERVICES

       
 

Social Srv.

Barbra

Program reports, corresp, reports, research

No

yes

Manager

 

Child &

John D.

Activity records, corresp., access to SWSMIS (BC)

No

yes

Fam. Worker

 

SA Clerk

Rebecca

SA procedures, records, reports

No

no

     

Number of computers: 3

   
     

Number of Server Hosted: 0

   
     

Number of Internet: 2

   

RECREATION

       

CENTER

 

Public

anonymous

internet access only

no

yes

Wkstns.

     

Number of computers: 2

   
     

Number of Server Hosted: 0

   
     

Number of Internet: 2

   

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TOTALS Number of computers: 19 Number of Server Hosted: 10 Number of Internet: 14
TOTALS
Number of computers: 19
Number of Server Hosted: 10
Number of Internet: 14

Table 1 ICT Breakdown Level 3

There are two very important results from this listing: the first is a simple, well organized list of our entire organization and the second is obviously the totals at the bottom. Armed with these figures we can do a very straightforward capital budget in pretty quick time. However, we also need to make some decisions at this point some about hardware, but mainly about software.

So, let‟s give some thought to SOFTWARE. If we are going to build a network, we must start with a clear idea of what it will be required to do. That means having a clear understanding of the software that will support our user‟s needs. Which server operating system are we going to choose for our network? As we said at the start of this section, we will stick with a Windows example aside from being the most common environment for business networks, there are thousands of resources our there for help and support. Yes. Linux is free (open source) and yes, you can do all of the same things with it. However Linux requires a very much deeper understanding of how it works and how to configure it. If you have this knowledge then you don‟t need to be reading this book. If not, then let‟s stick with something that we know will work. For a smaller network that will likely never grow beyond 50 users you can choose Windows Small Business Server edition. This has some advantages in that it is based on Microsoft‟s standard server software and packages a number of useful components together and includes email, SQL server database and a lot of configuration wizards to help you set it up. It is quite easy to upgrade to the full

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Windows Server version if the network grows beyond SBS limits, but that is another story. For now, we will use this as our example. We also need to select an appropriate workstation operating system. Some workstation OS‟ are not suitable for use in a network. Windows 2000 Pro version, Windows XP Pro and Vista Enterprise are suitable. Windows ME and the various Home versions of 2000, XP and Vista are not suitable for use in a networked environment. As of this writing, I am unable to recommend Windows Vista: it is too large (requiring more RAM) and too slow (on ordinary workstations) to be a good choice for a business environment. If your budget will allow you to purchase workstations suitable to run Vista, then it will work in your network. Just remember that you will need Vista Enterprise edition to participate on a network. The best workstation OS to date in the Windows environment is Windows XP. Windows XP Pro is still available pre-installed on new workstations from some manufacturers, including Dell and HP/Compaq. Most manufacturers also sell workstations with no OS installed. Just be very sure that you can get all of the hardware drivers for the OS you want to use and the workstation model you are considering. Vista drivers are NOT the same as XP drivers and will not work.

*NB: As of this revision (Jan 2011), Windows 7 is proving to be the best overall workstation OS that Microsoft has ever released. It does, however, require the hardware to be new, fast and with lots of resources (RAM & HDD). XP is still a viable OS to run on smaller, older computers.

Buying your workstations with the OS installed will save you some time and should be considered. If you cannot get the combination of workstation and OS you want, installing the OS on 18 or 20 workstations is not that difficult.

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Our budget will show the purchase of workstations and workstation OS separately. This is just for clarity since, as we mentioned, buying workstations with XP Pro pre-installed is preferable.

Backup software is absolutely critical. Without daily, reliable backups you WILL experience data loss whether due to user mistakes, hardware failure or network malfunction. So, you NEED to plan a backup strategy that has the following characteristics:

reliable (both backup and restore)

easy in fact automatic

frequent daily at minimum

system level and file level

The first 4 points are fairly obvious, but the last one requires a little explanation system level backups are needed when you have a complete workstation failure. The most common form of this is when the hard drive fails and everything is lost. You will need to do what is called a “bare-metal restore”. Install a new hard drive, install the OS and the backup utility and then perform your full-system restore. This will restore all of the installed applications and the registry, which will restore all of the user‟s settings, as well as all of the user‟s files. File level restore is used when the user has accidentally deleted a file, group of files or a whole folder. To fix this problem, your backup software needs to be able to allow you to select only the deleted files from the backup to restore. There are many backup systems available in the Windows world. There is even a backup utility provided with the Windows operating system. Most of these systems have one or another advantages and disadvantages. One of the principal disadvantages of most of them is that the backup media (disk, tape) needs to be removed from the office for the data to be protected from a catastrophic event like a

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fire that destroys the entire system. Any backup system that relies on people to perform some part of the process will inevitably become compromised. There is only one backup system that I am aware of that meets all of the above listed requirements; it is called “Backup for Workgroups” and is published by Lockstep Systems. I have avoided recommending any specific products elsewhere in this book, but this is one product that has no equal or competition at this time. Backup for Workgroups is organized as three components: the Repository Manager, the Client utility and user

licenses. For a small First Nation, the overall best configuration for reliable network backup works like this:

A separate backup computer with very large disk drives (> 1 Terabyte this is often called Network Attached Storage) and the Repository Manager software installed.

The backup computer is located in a remote building (like our Recreation Center) with a solid, high-speed network connection to it. This connection can be wireless or wired, just so long as it is very reliable.

The client software is installed on every workstation and every server. Licenses are installed on the backup computer that identifies each workstation and server as an authorized backup source.

Lastly, a schedule is set up on each workstation and server that triggers a backup at a predetermined time.

Now, if the Band Office burns down, all of your data is safe on the Backup machine in the Rec Center. Buy new computers and you can perform restores that will have your network back up-and-running in only a few days.

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Anti-virus software is, likewise, absolutely essential. There are only a few mainstream anti-virus suites (Norton, McAfee and AVG come to mind). In the past I have chosen AVG, for the main reason that the client component (on the workstation) is smaller and faster that the other two. Whichever you choose, make certain that it is installed everywhere on your network and that updates are occurring regularly. Next, we will need to choose a standard set of office software that all users will have, regardless of their job description. This suite will need to handle:

word processing

spreadsheets

email

personal calendar

These are the basic functions that everyone will use. The straightforward choice in our Windows environment will be Microsoft Office. As with all Microsoft products, there are several versions offered. Read the descriptions and compare prices. There is no sense in buying a suite with functions that no-one will use. Alternately, having to purchase modules later can be quite a bit more costly than buying them in a bundle. Another very viable choice for office suite software is, surprisingly, free. Actually, really, free. It is “OpenOffice” http://www.openoffice.org . This software was developed several years ago as a project of the open source community and has evolved into a very sophisticated suite that rivals or exceeds the usefulness of Microsoft Office. It reads and writes all MS-Office file formats and uses all of the same keystroke shortcuts that users are accustomed to with MS-Office. In the case of our example budget for MEFN, you could save nearly $3,000 by downloading one copy of OpenOffice and installing it on all of your workstations. If your users have mostly basic skills and they will have to learn new software anyway, then OpenOffice may be a very good choice.

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There are only a couple of network considerations that are relevant to the selection of an office suite: first is that the software will perform all of the tasks that your users need to do and secondly will it perform at reasonable speeds so as not to bog down your network. Last, but certainly not least, we must take specific Application software into consideration. There are hundreds of variations and permutations to this topic and we will discuss some of them later. For now, we will adhere to our user needs assessment for the MEFN so as to give an example of how this effects our network planning. Application software is, by its very nature, designed to do a very specific job and to be relevant to only those users that are responsible for getting that job done. This means that we can take each case in turn and evaluate its needs on the network. Let‟s start by referring to the table above titled “ICT Breakdown – Level 3”. Extracting only those rows that refer to Application software, we come up with:

Dept

Application

Users

Admin

Accounting Software

4

Health

Integrated Info. System

6

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In order to properly prepare for these two specific Application suites, we need to know:

How much disk space will the app require (now and future)?

How much RAM will the app need when it is running?

How fast a CPU will the app need when running at full load (max users)?

How are permissions assigned (app level or OS level)?

Happily, the makers of the software will publish all of the above information and it is a fairly simple matter to have this on hand when you are selecting your servers. When you purchase your application software or upgrade the versions you have to run on your new network, the software vendor will provide installation and configuration help as part of the purchase. Some, however, will charge extra for this help, so ask before you buy! DO NOT try to do this installation yourself, without help. It is just not worth the frustration. Lastly, many application software vendors will want to have a portal into your system so that they can provide tech support, upgrades and, in some cases, online training, from their offices. This is a normal arrangement and you should take full advantage of it. It will require that they have a secure gateway through your internet router for them to log on to you network. Usually, the vendor will help you set up this gateway. Just be sure that you understand what they have done and what the security implications are. The only other software considerations you may have are where users want to use some utility software that they are familiar with on their workstations. This is where your Computing Policy comes into play. As stated in the example Computing Policy, one very important policy is that users are NOT granted permission to download or install software on their workstations. Without this policy, your network

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will rapidly become chaos, with users downloading all manner of spyware, malware and virus-ridden utilities which can, and probably will, wreak havoc on your network. So you should plan to evaluate these special requests from your users on a case-by-case basis.

Now that we know what software we are going to use, let‟s make some decisions about hardware:

Are we going to purchase all new workstations so that everyone is starting out fresh? Answer: YES! Why? Because… Upgrading to a network will affect everyone equally (training will only have to be done once). It is easier to get one capital allocation for one large amount than several of smaller amounts. Managing a new network where all of the workstations are the same class, OS and configuration is far easier than one where the workstations are a mix-and-match of older systems and one of the major benefits of a network is the uniformity it imposes on the ICT side of the workplace

We have two different groups with server hosted needs. Are we going to purchase one server or two? Answer: TWO. Why? Because:

The Health people have a very strict legal obligation to keep Patient records secure. Hosting their records on the same server as the Accounting and Admin group will make it much more difficult to maintain the proper security on Health Center files. For the relatively small cost (under $2,000) of a server, this can be achieved with certainty. Having a second server benefits the whole network it can act as a stand-in server if the main one is off-line. Users will still be able to log in, get mail and do much of their work.

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Despite the needs of users, modern network operating systems are designed with the assumption that there will be more than one server and that each will carry a copy of all of the network logon and user information. Having at least two ensures that if one fails, the network will continue to operate and most people will continue to work

Recall what we said earlier: One thing is certain about an ICT Network it will grow. Are we going to purchase Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS) for our new system? YES!!! Unless you live in downtown Vancouver (and sometimes even there) you can count on the power going out. And, if you live, like our MEFN, in a fairly remote location, you can be sure that the power will go out a LOT! Computers in general and network servers in particular, do not like it when the power goes off with no warning. It upsets them. In fact, most server OS have services built in to them to manage a UPS and to shutdown gracefully when the power goes out. So, we are going to put UPS on our servers. Servers of the class that we are considering require a much larger UPS than workstations do. Unlike the 500 Watt UPS normally found powering a workstation, a server will require 2,000 Watts or better to stay alive for one hour. We don‟t want our server to go into shutdown for every little 10 minute power outage, so we will give them one hour‟s worth of energy. With a server UPS, when available power drops to less than 25%, the server will start a controlled shutdown. This ensures that when the power comes back on, the server can be re- started without difficulty. Workstations too will need UPS when they are on a network. The usual 500 Watt units are adequate, as they will keep the workstation going for 15 minutes before triggering an orderly shutdown. This is enough time for the user to save what they have been working on and to ensure that any data between the workstation and server has reached its destination before the electrons stop flowing.

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Are there any other hardware decisions we need to make? Yes we need to ensure that users have reliable access to suitable printers. There are two strategies for this: give each person their own workstation printers and no shared network printers, or provide a few large, high capacity workgroup printers and map each user to the printer that is closest to their desk. Most networks wind up with a mixture of these some people do not like to print sensitive documents on a group printer and some don‟t do any work that is sensitive. The last consideration is whether you will or want to have a larger color printer that everyone can access. It is quite common for an organization to buy one large format (11 X 17) color laser printer and site it in the Band Office, with everyone having a second printer driver that maps to it. If you opt for this arrangement, don‟t forget to add <selecting an alternate printer> to your training list.

All of this has brought us to a capital budget for our project. It looks something like this:

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Capital Budget for new MEFN Network

Servers

Basic Server, 2Gb RAM, 500Gb HDD 1 CPU, 2 E-Net, 1 Opt Drive

Network Equipment

Workstations

2

$ 1,850.00

$

3,700.00

Backup Computer - 1Tb disk

1

$ 1,200.00

$

1,200.00

UPS - 3000W APC UPS

2

$ 1,450.00

$

2,900.00

12-port switch

4

$

120.00

$

480.00

Box Cat-5 Ethernet cable

1

$

175.00

$

175.00

Box (100) RJ45 cable ends

1

$

65.00

$

65.00

Ethernet Patch Panel - 12 Port

4

$

85.00

$

340.00

Ethernet cable crimping tool

1

$

125.00

$

125.00

Ethernet Cable Tester

1

$

250.00

$

250.00

Cat-5 Cable Labeling Tags

100

$

0.55

$

55.00

Internet Router

1

$

350.00

$

350.00

Wireless Point to Point Radios

4

$

475.00

$

1,900.00

Basic 2Ghz, 1Gb RAM, 120Gb HDD

18

$

525.00

$

9,450.00

Monitor, 19" LCD

18

$

200.00

$

3,600.00

UPS - 500W APC UPS

18

$

135.00

$

2,430.00

Software

Windows Small Business Server

2

$

335.00

$

670.00

Windows SBS CAL - 5 Users

2

$

235.00

$

470.00

Windows XP Professional

17

$

170.00

$

2,890.00

Backup for Workgroups

19

$

120.00

$

2,280.00

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AVG Anti-virus Network Ed.

1

$

1,200.00

$

1,200.00

MS Office 2003

17

$

165.00

$

2,805.00

Accounting (Adagio, ??)

1

$ 5,500.00

$

5,500.00

Adagio User Lic.

3

$

255.00

$

765.00

Software - Contingency (10%)

$

1,658.00

Prices typical of Dec 2008

TOTAL CAPITAL COST:

Table 2 Capital Budget

$ 45,258.00

To get a complete project budget, we need to add some costs to the above:

Other Costs - MEFN Network Project Management Purchasing - research, quotes

2 mo.

2500/mo.

$ 5,000.00

Network wiring - wired and wireless

2 wks.

2500/mo.

$ 1,250.00

Receiving, installation, configuration

2 wks.

2500/mo.

$ 1,250.00

Consultant (contingency) Training

$

500.00

Training 18 users

2 wks.

2500/mo.

$ 1,250.00

(courses & prof. training)

$ 8,500.00

Overall project contingency (10%)

$ 5,678.80

TOTAL NON-CAPITAL COSTS

$23,428.80

Table 3 Additional Project Costs

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Whew! That was quite a journey, wasn‟t it? Anyway, now we have arrived. The total budget needed for our network project is $69,308.80. This might seem like a lot, but if the cost is spread over our 25 users (don‟t forget our Chief and Councilors), the cost is only $2,772.35 per user. When you consider that only a few years ago a single workstation could easily cost this much, with no internet and far less capability than we are proposing to provide our users with, this is not such a frightening amount.

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One, two, three - one two, three: teaching machines to dance

Before we open a box or run a cable, there is some basic network planning that we will need to do mainly, how we are going to handle the IP assignments in our network. Many of you will know this stuff from your CompTIA Network+ or other training. Some of you will not and for you, we have added this section on IPs and IP Allocation.

-------------

IPs are the individual addresses of each and every piece of equipment on your network. Each unit that can send or receive packets of Ethernet data traffic needs to have a valid IP within that network, otherwise, no one else can send data to it. Each and every computer on the global internet has a unique IP. An IP is made up of four groups of numbers, each between 0 and 255. Each group is called an “Octet” and a typical IP might look like this: 192.168.3.145. There are a two different ways that IPs can be assigned:

They can be defined by the network manager (you) and manually entered into the machine‟s Ethernet Port parameters. This is called Static IP assignment. The IP can be requested and automatically assigned by your network operating system software. This is done by a software module on the network called a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server which is part of the Windows SBS operating system. This is called a Dynamic IP. It makes sense to use DHCP to assign IPs for workstations that will come on and off the network at various times. Also, as long as a workstation has a valid IP on the network, traffic meant for it will reach it. If it gets a different IP from the one it had yesterday, that presents no problem for the workstation. However some of your equipment, like your servers, radios and shared printers

you will want to assign static IPs for. This is so that you can find them whenever you

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need them and so that network services will find these resources without having to look them up. A server module that exists in all Ethernet networks is the Domain Name System (DNS) server. This acts as a directory for IPs that have been assigned throughout the network. If a workstation wants to use a network resource, say a shared printer, and only knows that the printer is called “Band Office Shared Printer”, it is the DNS server that will look up this name in its list and return the IP of the Band Office Shared Printer so that your workstation can send a print job to it. The DNS server must have an up-to-date list of ALL IPs on the network, whether Dynamic (assigned by DHCP) or static (assigned by you). There are two groups of IPs that have been reserved for use inside local area networks (LANs like the one we are building here). These are 110.8.xxx.xxx and 192.168.xxx.xxx. Since these IPs are not found on the internet, they can be used inside a LAN with no fear of conflict with any IP range outside of your LAN. For our example, we are going to use 192.168.1.xxx as our LAN IP range. This means that we can have as many as 256 devices on our network before we need to add a new range, like maybe 192.168.2.xxx. For convenience, we will carve up this address range into a group of IPs for Servers, another for Radios, a third for Printers, and so on. Here is a small table that shows what I mean:

192.168.1.0

- 192.168.1.10

Routers and Switches

192.168.1.20

192.168.1.35

Server Computers

192.168.1.40

192.168.1.100

Workstations (DHCP Assigned)

192.168.1.200

192.168.1.230

Radios

192.168.1.240

192.168.1.255

Shared Printers

Table 4 IP Allocation

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This table shows that we can have up to 10 routers or switches, 15 server computers, 60 workstations, 30 radios and 15 shared printers on our network. Also, notice that we have left blocks (11 19, 36 40, etc.) unallocated throughout our IP range. This is for unexpected growth. You may think now that you will never have 60 workstations or 15 servers on your LAN. At the Namgis, we started out 10 years ago with an IP range very similar to this. Now, we have 120 workstations, 22 radios and more than 20 shared printers. We have had to expand our range to two adjacent class-C ranges and we will need to go to routed segments very soon. It always pays to plan ahead.

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He’s makin’ a list, He’s checkin’ it twice…

Ok, we have prepared our budget: it has received the approval of the Band Manager and we have presented it to Chief and Council. They thought it was brilliant and we found funding from somewhere. Selections were made, POs were issued. Now, we are standing in the Band office surrounded by a huge pile of boxes. What do we do first? Rip open boxes and start setting up gear, right? Wrong! What we do first (or maybe we were smart enough to do this while we were waiting for the equipment to arrive) is make checklists. Yep! Checklists. There will be 4 distinct phases in creating our new network: Network infrastructure (cables, wireless, etc.), Servers, Workstations and lastly, Applications installation. Each phase is complex and involves a number of steps on several different pieces of equipment. Because of this, it is VERY easy to miss a step of forget to do something. So, we make checklists one for each phase. Our checklists must be detailed every step must be performed; many must be performed before others can be done. We have our project plan to refer to, but the checklists we need to create will require information on the specific hardware and software that we have chosen. These examples will assume that we have purchased the exact items listed in our capital budget. However if you picked different gear, the process will be the same just substitute the details from your Servers, Operating System, Wireless Radios or whatever.

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Checklist #1 Network Infrastructure

If we refer back to our network wiring plan in Figure 5, we can see that we will have to install 8 Ethernet jacks in the Band office, 6 in the Health Center, 3 in the Social Services office and 3 in the Rec Center. Each of these Ethernet jacks will be cabled back to an Ethernet Switch located in the building and each of these will be cabled to the Wireless Radio that serves the building. With a total of more than 30 individual connections, it is a very good idea to number each connection so that you can keep track of them. There are lots of different numbering schemes, but we want something to keep things simple and allow for growth. We will assign a number to each building, and a connection number to each connection within the building. So, the connection from the Server room (space, rack, ???) in the Band office to the Band Manager‟s desk might be identified as “1-06”, meaning that it is connection number 6 in building number 1. The following series of detailed diagrams shows the connections for each building. Note that if the time comes that we need to add new connections in any building, or even a whole new building, the numbering scheme holds true.

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Building a First Nations ICT Network Figure 10 – Ethernet plan – Band Office 61

Figure 10 Ethernet plan Band Office

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In list form, we have the following connections:

Technician‟s Office

Council Office WS1

Council Office WS 2

Wireless Radio #1 Roof

Band Manager‟s Office

Reception

Accounting Clerk #1

Accounting Clerk #2

Accountant‟s Office

Lands and Resources Worker

Shared Workgroup Printer #1

Internet Gateway

Server #1

Server #2

Armed with this list, we have our Ethernet Infrastructure Checklist almost laid out for us. We just need to add some details for each connection to make absolutely sure that we cover all of the bases. Our finished Ethernet Infrastructure Checklist for the Band Office building would look like this:

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Ethernet Infrastructure Checklist

BAND OFFICE BUILDING - #1

Connection

Process

Number

Location

Description

Done

By

1-PP

Server Area

Install Ethernet Patch Panel

   
   

Label Patch Panel all ports

   

1-01

Technician's Office

cat-5 cable install

   
   

cable test

   
   

cable label - both ends

   

1-02

Council Office #1

cat-5 cable install

   
   

cable test

   
   

cable label - both ends

   

1-03

Council Office #2

cat-5 cable install

   
   

cable test

   
   

cable label - both ends

   

1-04

Wireless #1

cat-5 cable install

   
   

cable test

   
   

cable label - both ends

   

1-05

Band Manager's Office

cat-5 cable install

   
   

cable test

   
   

cable label - both ends

   

1-06

Reception

cat-5 cable install

   
   

cable test

   
   

cable label - both ends

   

1-07

Accounting Clerk #1

cat-5 cable install

   
   

cable test

   
   

cable label - both ends

   

1-08

Accounting Clerk #2

cat-5 cable install

   
   

cable test

   

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cable label - both ends

1-09

Accountant's Office

cat-5 cable install

   

cable test

   

cable label - both ends

1-10

Lands & Resources Office

cat-5 cable install

   

cable test

   

cable label - both ends

1-11

Shared Printer #1

cat-5 cable install

   

cable test

   

cable label - both ends

1-12

Internet Gateway

cat-5 cable install

   

cable test

   

cable label - both ends

1-13

Server #1

cat-5 cable install

   

cable test

   

cable label - both ends

1-14

Server #1

cat-5 cable install

   

cable test

   

cable label - both ends

Table 5 Ethernet Infrastructure Checklist

The “By” column is there in case you have help doing some of this. This is a space where each technician should initial to verify that they performed a particular task. When you have two or more people working on something as complex as this, being able to ask the person who ran a particular cable is invaluable. We won‟t waste pages by duplicating this for each of our other buildings, but do not give in to the temptation to short-cut this procedure. Make these checklists for each connection in each building. When the whole job is done and you are trying to find a small bug, you will be very glad you did.

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Ethernet wiring some points: you can find these and many more all over the internet and in most books on Ethernet networks however these are the important ones. NEVER run Cat-5 cable any closer to AC wires than you absolutely have to. An absolute minimum distance between Cat-5 Ethernet cable and AC wires is 8 inches (about 20cm). If the AC line is high current (for a heater or hot water tank), keep at least 30cm (12“) away. If you must across a section of AC wire, cross the AC wire at right angles. If there is not an alternative to placing your cat-5 beside an AC wire, slide a piece of sheet steel in between them. Galvanized roof flashing will work for this.

If you run a cable, terminate both ends and the cable will not test properly, cut the cable close to the connector and try a new RJ-45 connector. Very often a bad cable is actually a poor contact between the wire and the pins of the RJ-45 end. If it still doesn‟t test OK, go and replace the RJ-45 on the other end of the cable (this is where labeling is a godsend). If you are running cables under the floor, have help. Pull your Cat-5 cables carefully and be sure that there are no kinks in it. Most Cat-5 is solid-core wire and pulling on a twisted kink will often break the cable inside. If all tests fail and you have replaced the ends, traced the cable and can find no kinks then pull it out and put it aside (you can make lots of short jumpers from it and believe me, you will need them). Pull a new piece of cable into place and terminate it normally. Sometimes (not often) you will encounter a bad section of cable and there is no point in fighting with it. When we have completed The Ethernet wiring, we will have a neat-looking patch panel in our server area, with correctly labeled cables from each work location running up to it. At the other end, we will have either cables coming up out of the floor with a tag identifying it wrapped around, a few inches from the end. Or, even better, we will have a tidy-looking wall plate, duly labeled, into which we can plug a

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short jumper Cat-5 cable to the Workstation. (The advantages of a wall plate is that when someone, a few years from now, wants new flooring for their office, us techies will not have to remove the cable and re-terminate it.) This very tidy and properly labeled Ethernet cabling will also exist in each of our three other buildings, won‟t it? (big smile)

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Checklist #2 - Wireless

Next, we need to install and commission the Wireless links. Depending on the brand and model of wireless radios you have purchased, you may have a radio box with a cable between it and the antenna or you may have one box that contains the radio and antenna.

or you may have one box that contains the radio and antenna. A one-box wireless LAN

A one-box wireless LAN radio

An external antenna for long distance

All wireless Ethernet links are „line-of-sight‟ radios. That means that you will have to be able to see the antenna of one radio from the location of the other radio‟s antenna in order for them to work. For the central radio, the Access Point (AP) radio located on the building that houses the servers, you will need to pick a point on the roofline that can be seen from all of the other buildings. If you cannot see the rooftops of all the other buildings, consider using a mast or small tower to get the antenna up high enough to be seen

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from all of the other buildings. And, of course, you do not want to have to try to establish a link between two buildings that have a BC Hydro transmission line running between them. Siting radios can be a somewhat complex topic in itself, so if the location of your buildings presents you with line-of-sight problems, get help from the vendor that you bought your radios from. For this example, we will assume that all of our buildings can see each other.

Wireless Radio Checklist MEFN Network

Connection

Process

Number

Location

Description

Done

By

1-WR

Band Office Building

Bench configure to AP

   
   

Assign network IP

   
   

Name SSID & node

   
   

Install on roof - verify operation

   

2-WR

Health Center

Bench Configure to Infrastructure mode

   
   

Assign Network IP

   
   

Name SSID & node

   
   

Install on roof - verify operation

   

3-WR

Social Services

Bench Configure to Infrastructure mode

   
   

Assign Network IP

   
   

Name SSID & node

   
   

Install on roof - verify operation

   

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4-WR

Rec Center

Bench Configure to Infrastructure mode

   

Assign Network IP

   

Name SSID & node

   

Install on roof - verify operation

All

 

Verify link to AP

 

Band Office Building

Set security and key for network

 

Health Center

Set security and key for network

 

Social Services

Set security and key for network

 

Rec Center

Set security and key for network

All

 

Verify link to AP

Table 6 Wireless Checklist

For the action item “Assign Network IP”, refer back to our IP table on Page 30. There we said that we would allocate IPs from 3.200 to 3.230 for radios. For this type of hard-assigned, un-routed network it is not critical which radios get which IPs, so long as they each have a unique IP. The usual way would be to assign the first IP in the range to the main access point, then hand them out as you go along.

POINT: Remember to make a list to identify which radio is assigned which IP address. This will save you a lot of time figuring out what has gone wrong, when something goes wrong (and it will you can count on it).

Now, if all of the items on the above checklist have been completed, you should be able to link to the control interface on each radio and look at its configuration and operating conditions. If so, our network infrastructure is done and we are ready for the next phase

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Checklist #3 Internet Gateway

We are going to assume that this has all come about because you finally have an internet service in your community. An essential step and one that will make a lot of the following work much easier is to activate this internet service for your network. It is actually easier to do this before you set up your server. All you need is the Ethernet cable that plugs into your internet service (cable modem, ADSL modem, wireless backhaul, etc.), a laptop (or desktop) and your primary gateway router. You may recall that we budgeted $350.00 for this in our planning. Just about any router will do from a functional standpoint event the $60.00 routers you would buy for your home. We budgeted for an industrial-strength router here because everyone on our network is going to share it and we will need the better security offered by these professional units. Plug the internet cable into the WAN port of your router and power it up. Plug an Ethernet cable between your laptop (or desktop) and the router and proceed to install the router management software that came with your router. This software will help us configure are router and about the only thing we need to know is which IP we are going to assign to the LAN side of this gateway. In our case, we will assign the router the IP of 192.168.1.1. Once the configuration is complete, we should be able to access the internet from the laptop or desktop we were using to configure the router.

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Gateway Checklist MEFN Network

Step

Process

Number

Description

Done

By

 

Connect Router WAN

     

1

port to Internet service

Just plug it in!

2

Power up the router

Ensure that all of the lights are working as intended and that you can access the router from your laptop

   

3

Configure LAN side

Enter LAN Side IP and restart

   

4

Check internet access

Browse the internet from your laptop

   

Checklist #4 - Servers

Table 7 Server Checklist

We are not going to go in detail into the configuration of servers here it is a very complex topic with quite a number of choices involved each of which has implications later on. Most of you will purchase a server from a hardware vendor with the Operating System installed. Some of you will have a dealer or consultant help you set up your network server. And some of you will have done the job yourselves thanks to hard work and a lot of studying. Whatever way you get there, we will leap (un)gracefully over the issue of how your server got configured. There are, however, three topics that you MUST decide on and that form the foundation of your entire network:

1) your domain name 2) your DNS strategy 3) you IP assignment strategy

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Yes, you must choose a domain name. There are many factors involved in a domain name; whether you intend to extend your network over only one or many geographic areas (i.e. you have multiple reserves, each with its own offices and services); whether you intend to affiliate with other Bands (i.e. a Tribal Council) and whether you intend to have an external-facing (i.e. internet) website that will be integrated with your network or isolated from it. Unless you already know the

answers to these questions, fall back on the „KISS‟ principle. In keeping with the theme of this effort so far, we will select a very simple domain scheme a single domain for a single location with no external-facing component beside a simple website for members and the public. In this case, we can choose a very simple domain name. It doesn‟t need a dot- com or a dot-org; a simple dot-local will do just fine. So, we will call our domain mefn.local. In our network, this will form the basis for everything that we add to the network, users, computers, servers, routers: everything. A DNS strategy is essential to the operation of almost every aspect of your network. The acronym DNS stands for Domain Name System and refers to the component on your server that translates the human-readable names we come up with for our workstations, servers, printers, etc. into the IP that the network uses to talk to the device. DNS is quite simple in concept, but is so essential to the operation of a network that is must be handled by a server. The principal choices are

a) whether or not to use automatic DNS

b) whether to use internet-compatible DNS and

c) whether we need to have more than one DNS server in our network.

Automatic DNS simply means that the records in our DNS database are placed there automatically by the network itself. In earlier years, network admins would be required to add a DNS record to the database every time a new machine or network

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printer or router was added to the network. Not a big problem with 20 or 30 devices on the network, but a real challenge when there are hundreds. Nowadays, using automatic DNS is customary, as it removes one more task from the network administrator‟s list of things to do. The decision whether to use internet-compatible DNS is primarily one of security

a non-compatible DNS scheme would prevent anyone from the internet entering our network, but would also prevent any of our workstations from accessing the internet

not something we are likely to want. Since everyone nowadays expects internet

access to be available, so we will not even consider non-compatible DNS schemes. Why would we want more than one DNS server in our network? Because if the machine serving DNS fails, the network stops! Not now… right now! Depending on the consequences of a DNS failure, the way to prevent this is to have more than one server machine in the network serving DNS. If one fails, the other continues and the users don‟t know that anything is wrong. However, in our small network, if the server fails, a lot of things will stop working, so the vulnerability of a single DNS server is not such a big deal. We will opt for one DNS server in our MEFN network, and keep in mind that when we expand later, on of the first things we will add is a second DNS server. DNS needs an IP range to operate in, and there are a couple of reserved ranges that no machine on the internet will ever use. One of these ranges and by far the most commonly used, is 192.168.xxx.xxx. This entire class-B IP range is available for

use in any LAN that is not directly exposed to the internet. We only need a class-C range for our small network. This will provide 256 possible IPs and keep them all within a single class-C group. For convenience we will use 192.168.1.xxx. We could just as easily have chosen 192.168.6.xxx or 192.168.153.xxx, or… When we ran the setup for our first (or only) server, we supplied the following information when asked:

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- What type of DNS strategy do you want to use?

AUTOMATIC

- What DNS range do you want to use?

192.168.1.0

- What is your Domain Name?

MEFN.LOCAL

So now we have a domain, with a server that has the following features and options:

Windows Small Business Server or Windows Server 2003 has been installed on our shiny new server.

Active Directory is enabled and the domain has been created

DNS (the Domain Name Service) is active and set to automatically update Active Directory.

DHCP (Dynamic Host Control Protocol) is installed to hand out IPs to workstations and a range has been defined (matching the range we allowed in our IP table on Page 30)

an Internet Proxy has been configured so that all of our users can get access to the internet through one security gateway

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Server Checklist MEFN Network

Step

Process

Number

Location

Description

Done

By

 

Install OS (Small Business server or

Should have been done by Vendor

   

1

Server 2003)

 

Run Domain

Run Setup wizard in SBS or DCPROMO on Server 2003

   

2

Configuration

3

Configure DNS

Enter base DNS range and authorize

   

4

Activate DHCP

Set range of dynamic IPs and authorize

   

Table 8 Server Checklist

You are quite right we do not have any users yet. Don‟t worry, we will add some users a little further on. Also, an item of essential interest to your users is email. You will probably notice that we have not mentioned this yet. That‟s because we are going to side-step that too well, just for now. There is a whole section on mail down below, so don‟t despair.

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Checklist #5 - Workstations

In order for our workstations to participate on the network, they have to become members of the domain. This is one of the most significant differences between stand-alone computers and networked workstations this matter of domain membership.

POINT: a computer that has Windows Home Edition as its operating system CANNOT be a domain member. You must have the Professional Edition of any of Microsoft’s workstation OS in order for the machine to join a domain.

The point above is why we included the cost of Windows XP Professional for each workstation in our network. To enroll a workstation onto our new network, you must first right-click on the „My Computer‟ icon on the desktop then select properties from the drop-down list. Next you will see a tabbed dialog. One of the tabs is named “Computer Name”. Selecting this tab exposed a dialog that contains a place to enter a description of the workstation. It is always a good idea to enter a description, since the description will appear when you are browsing the network. Use a short description of the job the computer is there to support. Resist the urge to enter the user‟s name as the description – the user may leave but the job (and the workstation) will remain. Below the description box are two buttons, one labeled „Network ID‟ and the other is labeled „Change‟. You can use either of these to enroll a new workstation. If you like to use Microsoft Wizards to get things done, click on „Network ID‟. If you prefer the direct, enter-it-in-a-dialogand-click-OK approach, then select „Change‟. Either one will ask you which domain you want to join and what credentials you want to use to do the job. Enter „mefn.local‟ in the domain box, „administrator‟ in the username box and the administrator‟s password in the password box. Then click OK.

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Provided that you have a network connection between your workstation and your server, the procedure will come back after a minute or two and say “Welcome to the MEFN.LOCAL domain”

Workstation Checklist MEFN Network

Step

Process

Number

Location

Description

Done

By

1

Install XP

Full install

   
   

Verify drivers and network

   
   

Plug in Ethernet cable

   
 

Confirm network

     

2

operation

Manually set temporary IP

   

Set gateway to Internet router

   
   

Test access to internet

   

3

Join domain

Open „My Computer‟ properties

   
   

Select „Change‟

   
   

Enter machine name, description

   
   

Enter domain name, administrator‟s username and password

   
   

Click OK to join

   

Table 9 Workstation Checklist

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Checklist #6 Printers and shared resources

Installing printers and other network resources is generally a very straightforward process and can be handled with a minimum of planning. Start with a list of users who are going to share the device. Decide if there is anyone on the network that you explicitly do not want to have access to it. Let‟s use the example of a large-format color laser printer that will be shared by everyone on the network. For simplicity‟s sake we will use the example of a network- ready HP laser printer (one that has an Ethernet port built in). Let‟s say that we have chosen the IP address of 192.168.1.242 (remember our IP allocation table in Figure

4).

We will likely have to enter the IP address of this printer into the printer itself. This us usually done from the keypad of the printer and the printer‟s instruction booklet will tell us how. Once the printer knows what its IP address is, we will need to install the driver software on a network computer that will „host‟ the printer and manage its print queue. The most likely candidate for this will be our server computer. However it could be any computer on the network, as long as the computer can be expected to be powered up all the time. We will stick with the example of using out Server as the host for this shared printer. Next, we go to the server‟s console and place the install CD in the server‟s optical drive. As usual, the install process will start and about the only questions we will be asked is the IP of the printer, whether we want it to be shared and what name it should have. Since connecting to shared printers is something the users themselves can do, give the printer a simple, explanatory name like “Shared Color Laser” or “Color Laser – Admin”.

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About 15 minutes or so after the completion of the printer‟s install process, we can check to see our new shared network device by simply going to a workstation and selecting “Add Printer” from the Printers control. We select “Add a Network Printer” and then “Browse the Directory” to see a list of available network printers. If we have done things in the right order, “Color Laser – Admin” will appear in the Directory.

Shared Resources Checklist MEFN Network

Step

Process

Number

Location

Description

Done

By

1

Printer (or other device)

IP assignment

   
   

Print configuration

   
   

Plug in Ethernet cable

   

2

Install Drivers on host

Run Install software

   
   

Ensure device is shared

   
   

Test access to device

   

3

Test share from

Open Printers control

   
 

Workstation

Select „Add Printer‟ -> „Network Printer‟

   
   

Select „Browse Directory‟

   
   

If shared printer is listed, click to select, then complete printer add.

   

Table 10 Shared Network Resource

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HALT! WHO GOES THERE? AUTHENTICATION

Now, in order that our users can log on to the network, we have to create their accounts. This is quite straightforward. On our server, we can access a configuration tool called a „snap-in‟ from a program called the MMC. This is Microsoft-eze for Master Management Consoleand it is a shy little devil. It doesn‟t show up in your list of programs anywhere it is buried in the operating system, I guess so that only superhero technicians like us will know how to find it. To activate the MMC, select <Start>-<Run>. Type „mmc‟ into the run box and press enter you will see the Master Management Console appear…empty! Yep, empty. The MMC is designed to allow you to display only the management interfaces that you need. This means that you must install the appropriate „snap-in‟ into the MMC. To get assistance with installing snap-ins into the MMC, there is a help file that shows you how to do it. The snap-in we are interested in here is the „Active Directory Users and Computers‟ manager. This is where we create user accounts and manage their permissions. Active Directory uses the concept of Organizational Units (OUs) to help keep users and computers in logical groups. These can set up to mirror the departments in your organization. The idea here is that members of a particular OU are likely to need access to the same files and resources. OUs are organized in a simple hierarchy, much like the Band itself.

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Building a First Nations ICT Network Fig 11 – Typical AD hierarchy 81

Fig 11 Typical AD hierarchy

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Windows creates a number of OUs when it is installed and places certain types

of AD objects in specific places. When a server computer is installed and promoted to

a Domain Controller, its object record in AD is moved into the Domain Controller

OU. However when you create a new AD object record, say a user, you can place it wherever you want. This simplifies building your lists of users in particular departments and allows you to assign rights to the group to which a user belongs. The user inherits access rights and restriction from the group. If a user changes jobs,

you can move them from one OU to another and all of the old rights fall away while the new rights appropriate to their new position are inherited. The possibilities available in AD are vast and a comprehensive coverage would in itself occupy a book far larger that this. You are encouraged to read some of the extensive material published on the web from Microsoft and others on this topic.

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HI! I’LL BE YOUR SERVER TONIGHT

When people work on a computer, they inevitably create files word processing documents, spreadsheets, what have you. In addition, as users live with their machines they will create their own changes such as shortcuts, color schemes and other personal settings. These can often be valuable to users and improve their level of comfort with their workplace. With a stand-alone computer, these files and settings are stored on the computer‟s hard drive and form the „data‟ that is the most valuable part of the machine. Most users will naturally think of the data as „theirs‟. Networks take a completely different view of data since networks are almost exclusively used by companies and organizations and the users are employees or staff, data is viewed as a network resource that belongs to the organization. From a standpoint of policy, network data belongs to the organization since the organization has paid the user to produce it. From the network point-of-view, the data must be available to integrate with other users data and to subsequent people who may hold the position after the user who produced the data has moved on. This distinction brings up the question: “Where should user‟s data be stored?” There are several possible answers to this, depending on what your organization‟s policies and administrative objectives are.

Folders, storage and redirection

Users usually do not have a clear idea of where their files are stored. The most often will click on File->Save As and then select one of a number of folders they have created themselves to save the file. They are not aware that the actual location is in the Documents and Settings -> <username> -> My Documents -> <user created folder> on the computer workstations „C‟ drive, and would become confused if you tried to show them that this is so.

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Windows networking offers the network administrator the opportunity to „redirect‟ their default folders to another location on the network. There are a couple of reasons that you might want to do this:

storing user files on a network server simplifies backup by restricting it to the server only.

Workstations can be provided with much smaller hard drives as they need only enough space to hold the operating system and programs.

It is possible to assign more complex access rules to network drives, preventing users from deleting files, for example.

If users regularly move from workstation to workstation, their profiles and data can seem to follow them around, as folder redirection is applied to the user, not the machine.

Here is an excerpt from Microsoft referring to this feature

Folder redirection is a feature of IntelliMirror that allows users and administrators to redirect the path of a folder to a new location. The new location can be a folder on the local computer or a directory on a network share. Users have the ability to work with documents on a server as if the documents were based on the local drive. For example, you can redirect the My Documents folder, which is usually stored on the computer's local hard disk, to a network location. The documents in the folder are available to the user from any computer on the network. The My Documents folder is the location on the Windows Server 2003, Windows XP or Windows 2000 desktop where the user can save documents and graphic files.

If you decide to use folder redirection for any of the reasons outlined above, then you should plan for this by ensuring that your server has sufficient hard drive space to hold all of your user‟s files and settings. „Sufficient space‟ will vary with the type of work the user does: a secretarial staff who mostly creates word processing documents will only need a couple of Gigabytes of storage for years of use whereas a

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Lands and Resource coordinator who is frequently working with photographs, video files and large libraries of documents may need several hundred Gigabytes.

Backing Up Network Data

An in-depth examination of the various methods of performing reliable Network Backup is covered below in the section titles “Getting our Back Up”. Read this carefully before deciding whether to use Folder Redirection.

Programs where the heck are they?

The last major decision about what your server is going to be tasked with is Application software programs and what their respective licensing requirements are. Some software (such as a multi-user Accounting system) is designed to be run on a server and to store its data on the server‟s disk. Other software can be run on a server and shared by many people, even though the data they produce is kept in separate folders one for each user. Then there is Single-User software that must be installed individually on each user‟s workstation (meaning one licensed copy per user) with the data produced being saved where the user directs. If you are going to deal with multi-user programs (Adagio, AccPac, MS-Project, etc.) then you have no choice but to install them exactly how the manufacturer requires. Most of these have the „Server‟ component and the data on the server computer and some sort of Client software on the user‟s workstation. The up-side of these systems is that they take surprisingly little space on the server. A full-size accounting system that holds all of the current data plus 7 or 8 years of back data will easily fit into 4 Gigabytes of space. Single user software can only be installed on the workstation (MS-Office, incl. Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.) and you must purchase one copy of the software for each workstation in your network (or buy a site license). Since these programs have no impact on the configuration of our network, we will skip over them.

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It’s Miller time… yeah, right!

So, people we have created an ICT network. We have installed the Ethernet infrastructure, prepared and activated a server, connected our workstations and created our user accounts. We have decided on network redirection and installed and configured our network and workstation applications. We‟re done, right? WRONG! Now, we have to get to work. Remember what we said in the beginning of this journey – “to be worthwhile, a network must be relevant and useful to the users”. So, if they can‟t use it, we‟re not done. BACK TO WORK!

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OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW

Once the network is built, it is time to „deploy‟ it to our users. This is just a jazzy term for showing our users how to use the new ICT system, then setting them loose on it. At this stage, as with all of the preceding ones, we must do some planning if we want things to go smoothly. In fact, a deployment plan should have been made some time before, when we were making up our budget. I hope that you are reading this whole book through in advance of beginning any part of the real work of building your network. To keep things in some sort of order we will explain the planning process for our network deployment here. When planning for ICT deployment, whether it is some new feature on the network or, like this example, a whole new ICT network, there are some things we need to know:

1)

Where are our users starting from? (what IT skills do they

2)

already have?). Who will be expected to make the largest adjustment in their

3)

daily activities? What does everyone need to learn to use the system effectively?

4)

What will they have the most difficulty with? (the steepest

5)

learning curve) Which processes are critical to the employer that users follow exactly and which have some room for individual variations?

The first of these is essential – the user‟s starting skills. It is very important to have an evaluation of your users abilities and limitations in order to plan training

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and user support. There are two ways to obtain this information and you may choose to use either or both. The first method is to interview each user and ask questions intended to provide you with an insight into how well they know the environment of their computer desktop. You might ask each user to show you how they create and save a file in their word processor, how they find a file they have not opened for some time and how they manage their email. If you are going to interview the users, you must remember to:

Arrange for uninterrupted time for each interview. It is impossible to get a clear understanding of someone‟s strengths and weaknesses if the user is answering the phone every few minutes.

Be courteous and respectful. If you annoy anybody, they will not be very cooperative when it is time for them to learn new systems

Handle the interview as an information-gathering exercise only. You don‟t what to make your users feel stupid.

Keep good, well organized notes. The only way that you are going to integrate the interview findings is if the information is uniform and meaningful.

Allow sufficient time to go through each topic fully. If asked, people will frequently say “Sure, I know how to do that.” When in fact they are doing it incorrectly or have only the vaguest notion of what is going on.

Identify true „power users‟ - people who have higher than average skill levels and comfort with technology these people can be invaluable during the deployment phase in helping others in their work area, thus relieving some of the burden from tech support.

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Interviews can be very time consuming and difficult to arrange. Everyone is busy, and the more senior the person is, the busier they are. However interviews are very valuable: the can be an opportunity to learn about not only people‟s skill levels but their hopes and expectations as well.

The other type of information-gathering tool you can use to establish skill levels is the Survey. Surveys are actually quite easy to put together and many, many examples of these can be found on the internet (just search for „User Skills Survey‟). Surveys have the advantage that you can send them out to everyone and leave them to fill them in while you are busy doing something else. However don‟t forget:

Survey questions must be very easy for the respondents to understand.

Some people will be more honest in a survey than in person, while others will be less honest. Either way, you will have to trust their answers.