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Computer Network Design for Modern High School

Question:

Describe about the Computer Network Design for Modern High School.

Answer:

Introduction

In this report, the existing computer network in Modern High School is assessed for its short comings and limitations. A new data communications network is proposed to revamp their existing network in order to provide improved computer and network capacities, efficiency and improved performance in data communications. The new design is proposed keeping in view of the existing needs and computing future requirements. 

Background

Modern High school already has a data communication network implemented in 2011 but as on date it is obsolete. The existing network is old and needs to be replaced with latest technology. There are 3 buildings and the distance between the buildings is 40 meters. Currently there are 500 students in the school. There are two computer labs having 20 computers each in two separate buildings. In addition to this 20 computers are also installed in the library, and the staff room has 10 computers. Student community groups include multimedia, programming students and business studies group. The LAN is built using hubs/switches with the server. The network server used is Windows Server 2008. Since 2011, there is no network upgrade but over the years the school is undergoing significant growth and the existing network is unable to efficiently cater to changed demands. Due to this, the school management has decided to install new systems and network elements to accommodate computing needs for the next five years.

Scope of the report

The report focuses on addressing the present situation related to school’s organization structure and how the network is functional. The user requirements are considered for the existing network and the areas covered in this report will include,

  • User requirements and level of network capacity
  • Existing network circuit
  • Hardware and software used
  • Logical and physical network layout
  • Analysis of existing network, functionality and limitations

The report also proposes a new network which is aimed at meeting computing and network requirements for the next 5 years and based on the growth strategy. For the new network, the report highlights software, hardware, network architecture and so on. 

Objectives of this project

The main objective of this project is to implement a computer network which will fulfil both business and technical goals.

Business objectives are:

  • Efficient data communications, wireless connectivity, video conferencing, etc.
  • Cost effective
  • Ensure data protection of school information
  • Envisage more enrolments in school
  • Make use of latest technology

Technical objectives are:

  • The current labs are upgraded to provide efficient computing resources to all users (teachers and students)
  • Scalability – the network must be flexible and must be able to scale to meet more demands (Technet, 2005)
  • Availability – data and resources must be available to users. Network connectivity must be available to students in classrooms and providing wireless connectivity for outdoor use.
  • High performance with access to study material and resources without any failure.
  • A highly secured network and IT assets

Organisational Description

Modern High School runs education services from three buildings spaced 40 meters apart from each within their campus. All the 500 students use the computers available in 2 labs and use the computers in the library. The existing drawback is that, data from a computer in one lab cannot send data to another lab. There is also no wireless for connecting laptops or tablet computers. The computers share resources related to multimedia, programming and business studies to students as required.

Existing Layout

The existing layout of the campus network is assumed to appear as shown in figure 1.

Figure 1: Existing network layout

From figure 1, it may be seen each building has a separate LAN and computers in these networks are connected with a hub or switch (Abrams and Podell, 2006). The LANs in the three buildings are not connected with each other and this is one major reason data cannot be sent or received between two labs.

The existing LAN is used only for internal communication and for using software tools as relevant for their course. In addition to these limitations, there are only two laser printers available in the entire campus which puts an additional load on the printers.

User Requirements in existing network

Student communities in the school include multimedia course students, programming course students and students undergoing business studies subjects. The existing network setup has limitations to cater to each of these student communities. This is because,

Multimedia course students will be using more resource intensive software and tools for audio, video streaming, high resolution graphics, animations, short and long duration films, etc. This student community will make use of graphics and animation software along with tools for audio, video handling.

Programming course students will need to use compilers, and software development platform installed on individual PCs and the server (Safonov, 2008). A variety of compilers and software will be used by these students.

Business studies community will perform more research based work, by using word processing software, spread sheets and other data analysis tools (Downey, 2007).

In addition to the above, all student communities will make use of standard software for word processing, spread sheets, presentations and database tools.

The existing data communications network needed for Modern High School caters to all student groups, teachers and other staff.  The new network must fulfil the needs of the school and ensure performance, security and adequate computing resources (Haenemann et al. 2006). In addition to this the new network must have wide area network (WAN) connectivity with other schools situated in another location. This WAN link will be used for video conferencing purposes (CISCO, 2002).

Analysis of User Requirements

In this section, the user requirements are examined for the type of applications required by each student community. The network load is show as two levels, standard or high.

Building 1, lab 1

Number of computers: 20

Number of Servers: 1

Application used:  Graphics and Animation software and tools, file sharing, office productivity tools, anti-virus and standard tools with access to shared printer.

Type of user: High

The above estimate is for multimedia student community. The network load (Microsoft, 2016) is high because these users use resource intensive graphical software and tools in addition to normal tools.

Building 2, lab 2

Number of computers: 20

Number of Servers: 1

Application used:  Programming and development tools, file sharing, office productivity tools, anti-virus and other standard tools.

Type of user: High

The above estimate is for programming student community. The network load is high because at a given point in time programmers tend to use different system software and tools. 

Building 3

Number of computers: 30 (20 in Library, 10 in staff room)

Number of Servers: 1

Shared printer: 1 in library

Application used:  Data processing and analysis tools, file sharing, office productivity tools, anti-virus and standard tools with access to shared printer.

Type of user: Standard

The above estimate is for business studies student community. The network load is standard because at a given point in time, there is not much peak load.

Description & Analysis of Current Setup

Circuits and Cabling

In 2011, when the network was established, the IT administrator decided to use category 6 (Cat-6) cabling. This is because Cat-6 cabling is simple to implement, cost effective, and can easily scale with faster networks in future. The Cat-6 cables can easily connect to network switches. In future, when the school decides to implement a high speed network, the existing cabling can be easily used. Hence, Cat-6 cables offer scalability. The choice of network cards and network switches must be aligned with the type of cabling (Hussain, 2014).

Hardware (Network and User)

In the project, a standard user refers to a system which does not provide high processing power or high video/audio, etc. For example, business studies student users may not need high end processing, because usually they will be using software applications, tools for data analysis in addition to standard office productivity tools.

Heavy users fall in the category of software developers, multimedia developers and the systems needed for this user type must have capacity to support high resolution graphics, video, audio data, animation tools, etc. Typically these systems would require high processing power, more memory, high speed network cards, high resolution monitors and so on (Sequerra-Breitman and Berry, 2002).

Logical Network Topology

Computer networks are defined as topologies on how different computers are connected to form a network.  A logical network topology will define how the nodes are physically connected. This topology also shows the arrangement on how the computes are connected with other devices or computers to send and receive data. Logical topology works on underlying physical topology and is governed by different protocols (Binu et al. 2012). In the existing network, the computers are based on star topology and are able to communicate with each other within their local network. The logical topology for the school must be established in such a manner that each participating computer must be able to communicate with all other nodes and with outside systems.

Network Physical Topology

The physical topology (Son et al. 2005) is shown in figure 2.

Figure 2: A logical arrangement in a lab in school

It can be seen that in this arrangement a server is connected to a switch which further connects 20 computers to form a star topology (Pandya, 2012). This network is not connected to lab 2 or with library.

Analysis of existing network

In all the three buildings LAN is implemented using a server and switch, the topology followed is star. Cat-6 cabling is used in all the buildings. However, the buildings are not connected with each other. The wiring used in the buildings can easily work in high speed network hardware in future this can eliminate the cost for new wiring in the buildings.

The file server used is Windows Server 2008, and all the nodes have standard configurations for running windows operating systems (Rouse, 2016).

The networks in labs in both buildings cater to students and since the system configurations and speed of switch is low, there are always performance problems.

Since the buildings are not connected, users in one lab are not able to send or receive data from other lab or library.

Students in multimedia and programming course use resource intensive applications (Lagar-Cavilla et al. 2007) which mar the performance of the network.

In terms of software, new network operating system may be required with high speed Ethernet cards and high capacity servers to have good performance even at peak loads.

In addition to this the network must also implement a WAN to connect with other schools for video conferencing. A dedicated link may be required.

Upgrade is highly essential to ensure computer network and system performance in the school.

Conclusions

The report highlights the existing computer network in Modern High School. The existing network is assessed for its short comings and limitations. The school decides to implement a new data communications network to revamp their existing network in order to provide improved computer and network capacities, efficiency and improved performance in data communications to students. The report highlights the present situation related to school’s organization structure and analyses the existing functionalities. The user requirements are considered for the existing network to explain network capacity, logical and physical topology, functionalities in computer and the limitations in the network.  The report is made to fulfil computer network requirements for the next 5 years and based on the school’s growth strategy.

References

Abrams, M.D. and Podell, H.J. (2006) ‘Local Area Networks’, Essay 16. Information Security. pp.385-388

Binu, P.R.N., Sudharson, K. and Sivarajan, N.S. (2012) ‘A Logical Topology Based Network Compositor for Packet Distribution System with Effective Edge Replacement’, International Journal of Advanced Research in Computer and Communication Engineering. 1(1).

CISCO (2002) ‘Cisco IP Videoconferencing Solution Reference Network Guide’. CA, USA: Cisco Systems Inc.

Downey, J. (2007) ‘Strategic Analysis Tools’. The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, London.

Hanemann, S., Liakopoulos, S., Molina, M and Swany, D.M. (2006) ‘A Study on Network Performance Metrics and their Composition’, Report by German Research Network, c/o Leibniz Supercomputing Center, Munich, Germany. Greek Research & Technology Network S.A., Athens, Greece and Dep. of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, USA.

Hussain, S.F. (2014) ‘Networking Basics’. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.networking-basics.net/cat5-cat5e-and-cat6/. [Last Accessed 26-Aug-2016].

Lagar-Cavilla, H.A., Tolia, N., de Lara, E., Satyanarayanan, M. and O'Hallaron, D. (2007) ‘Interactive Resource-Intensive Applications Made Easy’, IFIP International Federation for Information Processing.

Microsoft (2016) ‘Network Load Balancing’, Operating System, Network Load Balancing Technical Overview. [ONLINE] Available at: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb742455.aspx. [Last Accessed 26-Aug-2016].

Pandya, K. (2013) ‘Network Structure of Topology’, International Journal of Advance Research in Computer Science and Management Studies. 1 (2), pp.22-26.

Rouse, M. (2016) ‘Windows Operating System’. [ONLINE] Available at: http://searchwindowsserver.techtarget.com/definition/Windows. [Last Accessed 26-Aug-2016].

Safonov, V.O. (2008) ‘Using Aspect-Oriented Programming for Trustworthy Software Development’. Canada: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Publication.

Sequerra-Breitman, K. and Berry, D.M., (2002). The Development of Multimedia Hypermedia Applications as Evolutionary, Prototyping-Based Requirements Engineering. Report by Faculty of Computer Science, Technion. 

Son, M-H., Joo, B-S., Kim, B-C. and Lee, J.-Y. (2005) ‘Physical Topology Discovery for Metro Ethernet networks’, ETRI Journal. 27 (4), pp.355-360

Technet (2005) ‘Understanding Availability, Reliability, and Scalability’, Microsoft. [ONLINE] Available at: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa996704(v=exchg.65).aspx. [Last Accessed 26-Aug-2016].

 

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