VIEWS: 8 PAGES: 4 POSTED ON: 11/6/2011
Walter Tan 2/12/10 Menard’s is a privately held home-improvement store located in 12 states including Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan. There are many Menards stores located in the United States, but the store which this proposal pertains to is the Menards located in Hoffman Estates, IL. This particular Menards employs over a total of 50 employees, and is smaller in size compared to most Menards stores located in the area. You can think of Menards as one large room, with many departments. The building is approximately 130,000 square feet and is divided into eight departments: building materials, hardware, electrical, millwork, wall coverings, plumbing, floor coverings, and front end. Unfortunately the geographic span of each department is unknown. Each department contains two computers and most departments contain one printer generating a grand total of sixteen computers and seven printers for the entire store. Managers use the computers to view inventory, the availability of products, and the status of orders, as well as to complete special orders, and to schedule their workers. In addition, the front end department contains seven registers that are connected to the network; it keeps track of what items are bought and what items are being returned. Company information can be found on the Menards website, www.menards.com. Finally, Menards also has intranet to secure private information, but does not have an extranet. A store such as Menards which contains sixteen computers, seven registers, and seven printers should implement a server-based network. I recommend implementing three types of servers within the store: a file and print server, application server, and a directory server. With a file and print server, employees from the store can control and share printers and files and restrict unauthorized personnel from printing with the use of an access control list. Not all departments contain a printer and a cost- effective way is to share printers with other departments. Also, an application server such as a database storage system is required because cash registers record what items are sold, how many are sold, and what’s being returned. This translates into hundreds or even thousands of transactions daily, all of which needs to be recorded. In addition, most data is stored in a central location which makes it easier for users from different departments to share that data. For example if a customer asks an employee from the electrical department about whether or not a sink-fixture is in stock, then that employee can view inventory and check whether or not that item is still available. Finally, a directory server should be implemented to allow the system to filter which individuals can and can’t access these computers. This prevents unauthorized people from using these computers and accessing confidential data. Another benefit of using a server-based network is it allows for storing files in a central location which will allow the network administrator to back up the data from one location to prevent information loss. Menards would most benefit by utilizing a Star Bus topology. Star Bus topology is especially useful, since Menards is located in a pretty sizable building. It allows for network segments to be connected together. With a Star topology, each segment is easy to wire and install, taking computers out of the segment won’t cause disruptions, and detecting faults and removing parts from the segment is easy. In addition, a Star Bus topology allows the organization to segment the network into multiple parts instead of one big complicated network. Two departments will share one hub, and these hubs will be connected to computers and printers. An exception to that is the front end department; it will store the servers and its registers as well as its computers and printers. One major advantage to using a Star Bus is that since there are multiple hubs connected to the network, the whole network won’t break down. The only part of the network that will be affected is the segment connected to the malfunctioning hub. To implement such a topology, one has to decide on which networking devices to include for their network. The first component that a Star Bus network should include is a backbone. The backbone is the main cable line that will connect smaller segments together to form a network. Each of these segments contains a hub, which acts as a central point for network devices to connect to. An active hub will be useful for the organization in that, it will regenerate the data before sending it to the other hubs. In addition, repeaters can be added so that network signals can travel the extra distance. As an alternative, it might be best to use switches since regular hubs send data to all ports on the hub, creating a lot of network traffic. By implementing a switch, it allows packets to enter the switch and the switch will then direct the packet to its destination. This allows for less network traffic, thus freeing resources. All departments will consist of a hub except for the front end. The front end department generates a lot of the traffic due to the use of registers so the hub will be replaced with a switch. In all, there will be a total of three hubs and one switch for the whole network and we will probably need only one main backbone line. Two routers can be used to connect the main lines together which would also send data to each of the segments. Of course to keep the network safe, firewalls should also be included to prevent unwanted traffic from entering our network. In terms of network architecture I would recommend implementing a 100BaseTX. Considering that there is not too many devices linked on to the network, using 100BaseTX architecture for the network will be sufficient for store needs. Transmission rates are over 100m away which is more than enough to send data throughout the store. Faster architecture can get very pricey, and Menards probably doesn’t what to deal with the extra costs in upgrading to more expensive architecture. As for network media, I would implement unshielded twisted-pair to reduce outside interference. Also it’s easier to install, more flexible, and smaller in size. It’s more prone to interference, but the area that the store is located in doesn’t have large electronic devices that could easily interfere with the cable so outside interference is not a factor. In addition, it is cheaper than going with the shielded twisted pair wiring, which could help the organization save some money. I would also recommend cat5 cables which transmit a max distance of 100m and transfers data at a max rate of 100mps. Cables will connect each computer to the closest hub and each hub will connect to a segment. Considering there are sixteen computers in the store, and three hubs then there should be around twenty to thirty cat5 cables that should be purchased. The Access method will consist of CSMA/CD considering all ethernet type environments come standard with that access method. In all, this proposal best describes my position on how this particular Menards store could utilize its networking components to better alight with its needs and goals. Although this store could acquire the best equipment and networking components (considering the Menards Corporation holds plenty of capital and resources), I considered the costs and the size of the store to implement what I thought would best fit the Menards store.
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