As usual, the first step in the design is to identify the applications that are being used on the network. A small network tends to use off-the-shelf software such as word processing and spreadsheet. These applications consume very little bandwidth because most of the time, the users are working on their individual workstations on the data file. The only time bandwidth is required is when the users open the files from the server or save them back to the server. The server, in this case, is typically a Windows NT server or a Novell NetWare Server. These two servers usually run their own protocol, that is, NetBEUI and IPX respectively. However, they do support TCP/IP also. With the popularity of TCP/IP, it is common to find these servers running TCP/IP. In fact, this is a better way to do it, because the network need not support multiple protocols (Bienstock, 2000, 127).
A single protocol network is simpler to design, and in the event of a problem, easier to troubleshoot. Running a single protocol on the network is also cheaper, for example, in the event that a router is required, only an IP router is required, rather than a multiprotocol one. An IP-only router is much cheaper than a multiprotocol one and this is significant in contributing to a lower running cost. In a small network, the file server is usually the most important component because it is the centre of focus. Besides providing a file sharing capability, it also provides printing services, and may double up as a Web server also. The backup device, in this case a tape drive, is usually built in and management of the server is the most important task for the system administrator. In a small network, there are usually only one or two system administrators in charge of running the show. The system administrator is responsible for every aspect of the network, from server management, to backup tasks, to connecting new devices, to the installation of workstations, and even troubleshooting PC problems (Saniee, 2001, 399). Due to the nature of the job, the system administrator is usually a generalist rather than an expert in a particular area of technology. The job is not easy as expectations of the system administrators are very high and they have to be responsible for every aspect of the network. Because they are generalists, they tend to be better in areas such as server management, rather than router expertise. Therefore, the design strategy for a small size network usually has the following characteristics:
Low cost equipment
Shared bandwidth for most users, switched for a selective few
A central switch acting as a backbone
Flat network design
Little fault tolerance
Minimal management required
High growth provisioning of 20-50%
The above design philosophy enables the system administrator to concentrate on the most important asset: the management of the server. The percentage increase is usually higher than that of a big company. Funky Fashions Company of 12 that increased to 20 would have grown 100 ...