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					The Six Pack Consulting Firm


                     System Plan Phase II, Part I

            Local Area Network Information and Hardware

The goal of the Six Pack Consulting Firm in accordance with the Director of E-Strategy,
 Riley B. King is to furnish Bluesblaster, Inc. with the best available Local Area Network
to fully accommodate the company’s needs and expectations. To make this technological
 adjustment as painless as possible, The Six Pack has prepared an extensive layout of the
  purposes of the LAN, necessary hardware required for the microcomputers, role of a
                        server and issues relating to cabling options.

                   PURPOSE OF THE LOCAL-AREA NETWORK
                              Source: Webopedia

        A Local-Area Network (known as a LAN) is a group of two or more computer
systems linked together in a geographically close region, usually in the same building or
buildings next to each other. However, one LAN can be connected to other LANs over
any distance via telephone lines and radio waves. A system of LANs connected in this
way is called a Wide-Area Network (WAN). Most LANs connect workstations and
personal computers. Each node (individual computer) in a LAN has its own CPU with
which it executes programs, but it is also able to access data and devices anywhere on the
LAN. This means that many users can share expensive devices, such as laser printers, as
well as data. Users can also use the LAN to communicate with each other, by sending e-
mail or engaging in chat sessions. Listed below are some characteristics that differentiate
Local-Area Networks:

      LAN CHARACTERISTICS                                      DESCRIPTION
Topology                                        The geometric arrangement of devices on
                                                the network. The shape can range from a
                                                bus, ring, star or a mixture of kinds.
Protocols                                       The rules and encoding specifications for
                                                sending data. The protocols also determine
                                                whether the network uses a peer-to-peer or
                                                client/server architecture.
Media                                           Media refers to the cables linking
                                                workstations together. There are many
                                                different types of transmission media, the
                                                most popular being twisted-pair wire
                                                (normal electrical wire), coaxial cable (the
                                                type of cable used for cable television), and
                                                fiber optic cable (cables made out of glass).

        LANs are capable of transmitting data at very fast rates, much faster than data can
be transmitted over a telephone line; but the distances are limited, and there is also a limit
on the number of computers that can be attached to a single LAN.


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                       BASIC HARDWARE REQUIREMENTS
                                Source: Webopedia
                               In Alphabetical Order

         Listed below are the basic components required for microcomputers in a network:

       TYPES OF HARDWARE                                     DESCRIPTION
Backbone (another term for bus)               The main wire that connects nodes. The
                                              term is often used to describe the main
                                              network connections composing the
                                              Internet.
Bridge                                        A device that connects two local-area
                                              networks (LANs), or two segments of the
                                              same LAN.
Hub                                           A common connection point for devices in
                                              a network. Hubs are commonly used to
                                              connect segments of a LAN. A hub
                                              contains multiple ports. When a packet
                                              arrives at one port, it is copied to the other
                                              ports so that all segments of the LAN can
                                              see all packets.
Network Interface Card (NIC)                  An expansion board you insert into a
                                              computer so the computer can be connected
                                              to a network.
Router                                        A device that connects any number of
                                              LANs. Routers use headers and a
                                              forwarding table to determine where
                                              packets go, and they use ICMP (Internet
                                              Control Message Protocol) to communicate
                                              with each other and configure the best
                                              route between any two hosts.
Switch                                        A device that filters and forwards packets
                                              between LAN segments. LANs that use
                                              switches to join segments are called
                                              switched LANs or, in the case of Ethernet
                                              networks, switched Ethernet LANs.
Switching Hub                                 A special type of hub that forwards packets
                                              to the appropriate port based on the
                                              packet's address.
Transceiver                                   A device that both transmits and receives
                                              analog or digital signals. In local-area
                                              networks (LANs) it actually applies signals
                                              onto the network wire and detects signals
                                              passing through the wire.



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The Six Pack Consulting Firm


                                 ROLE OF A SERVER
                                  Source: Webopedia

       A server is a computer or device on a network that manages network resources.
Servers tend to perform no other tasks than those that they are given, with the exception
of a multiprocessing operating system that can execute several programs at once. Here
are some examples of servers:

   FILE SERVER- a computer and storage device dedicated to storing files
   PRINT SERVER- a computer that manages one or more printer
   NETWORK SERVER- a computer that manages network traffic
   DATABASE SERVER- a computer system that processes database queries


                          ISSUES RELATING TO CABLING
                                 Source: Webopedia
                                In Alphabetical Order

        There are several devices necessary for network connectivity, and among the most
important of them is cabling. Cables are the lifelines that link every aspect of the network
together. There are various types of cabling to choose from with numerous
characteristics specific for the individual network needs. Listed below are different types
of cabling available:

TYPES OF CABLE           DESCRIPTION                   USE           BENEFITS/
                                                                   DOWNFALLS
Coaxial cable          A center wire         -Cable television  -Carries a lot of data
                       surrounded by         -Computer networks -Less susceptible to
                       insulation and then a                    interference than
                       grounded shield of                       standard wire
                       braided wire                             -Expensive
Fiber Optics           Bundles of glass (or -Telephone lines    -Greater bandwidth
                       plastic) threads      -LANs              -Less susceptible to
                       (fibers) to transmit                     interference than
                       data                                     metal wire
                                                                -Lighter and thinner
                                                                -Digital data
                                                                transmission
                                                                -Very expensive
                                                                -Fragile
Twisted-pair cable     Two independently -Older telephone       -Least expensive
                       insulated wires       networks
                       twisted around one    -Inexpensive LANs
                       another
UTP (unshielded        Two unshielded        -Telephone         -Easy to work with
twisted pair)          wires twisted         connections        -Inexpensive


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The Six Pack Consulting Firm


                       around each other       -LANs                  -Little bandwidth
                                                                      -Poor protection
                                                                      from interference

        Finally, in order to fully understand how all of these attributes to networking fit
together, The Six Pack Consulting Firm has graphically displayed what a Local-Area
Network looks like. This includes an adapter card for the PC, a cable of some type (wire
or fiber), and a physical layer device that passes the data stream such as a hub. All of
these units might be combined, as shown below, into a small workgroup. The workgroup
includes a server and PCs that share data.




                      http://www.cnetusa.com/wpbuilding100.html




               Functions of a Network Operating System
                                       Source: IDC

        A network operating system, often abbreviated as NOS, is basically an operating
system that allows for special features to connect computers and hardware devices to a
local area network (LAN). There are many operating systems, such as UNIX and the
Mac OS that have special elements built into them to run more efficiently with networks,
but the general NOS is reserved for software that enhances a basic operating system by
adding networking features.
        Network Operating Systems have gone far beyond their roots of file and print
services. Other functions, such as communications, database, application, and
management services, have become equally important in corporate environments. There


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The Six Pack Consulting Firm


are a number of factors that a network operating system must contain to effectively
integrate with hardware features and a company’s demands. NOS functions include
providing file, print, communication, database, application, management, and other
services to personal and business computer clients.
         File locking for security reasons, various types of client failover when a server
fails, and support of fault-tolerant hardware configurations are all important to companies
that rely on the network as a critical part of their day-to-day business operations. One of
the main concerns that companies relying on networks have are security issues.
Companies need to feel comfortable that corporate data assets are secure and NOSs must
assure that they will provide these vitally important types of security. If there is any basis
for doubting the capability of a particular network operating systems’ security devices,
you are probably better off settling with a more secure system. This is the single most
important factor to a company relying heavily on a NOS and must be taken into very
serious consideration.
         Server management plays an intricate role in the success of the entire operating
system. This enables the company to review file management, user account
management, error reporting, and server performance reporting. Just like any profitable
business plan, the determining factor in success is the ability for that company to
effectively manage and orchestrate solutions in a timely and most valuable manner. This
entails that the NOS must be able to manage and report any operating activities.

         OPERATING SYSTEM VS. NETWORK OPERATING SYSTEM

        There are very few differences between network operating systems and your
standard operating system. The main difference is that typically an operating system is
going to provide less security and not going to be quite as stable. To put it simply, a
network operating system is an operating system that allows the users to connect to many
hardware devices and software programs that are connected via a hub in a local area
network.
        There are many different network operating systems on the market today. The
ones that we found to be most useful include Microsoft’s Windows NT, Novell’s
NetWare, and IBM’s OS/2. Novell is a company that has focused in the area of file and
printing capabilities, and Microsoft and IBM rule according to application services. We
would recommend Windows NT, simply because this is the most widely used network
operating system and this will be the easiest and most flexible system to work with.

                      In-House E-mail vs. Outsourcing
                                    Source: USA.net
                                 Source: Outsourcing.com

        Sharing information over e-mail is critical in today’s business world. There are
two ways a company can transfer this information, they can either run e-mail in-house or
outsource e-mail to a company. In-house e-mail is pretty self-explanatory. It means that
all mail being sent within your company runs through a server that is located with in your
establishment. Out sourcing takes place when an organization transfers the ownership of
a business process to a supplier. This supplier has ownership or control over this process.


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The Six Pack Consulting Firm


In essence, an outsourcing agreement usually allows the provider company (outsourcer)
to supply a customer with services or processes that the customer is currently supplying
internally.
        In order to decide if Bluesblasters Inc. should invest in an outsource server, you
should determine what kind of resources, both in terms of capital and manpower you
currently have. You should weigh the advantages and disadvantages to both options.
        There are a few disadvantages to outsourcing. The first one is that it is not as
secure as an in-house server. There is an opportunity for computer hackers to access your
information when you are outsourcing. Another disadvantage is that you lose your
flexibility in your growing business. This happens because you are locked into the
system software and procedures of the hosting company. The last disadvantage is that
the cost is higher to outsource.
        To address these disadvantages, choosing a reliable and well-known outsourcing
company can secure the information sent via e-mail. Although flexibility can be limited,
choosing a larger outsourcing company that allows software to run on a variety of
platforms will allow more leeway. Lastly, in the long run, the cost of outsourcing proves
to be a good investment.

Some more advantages to outsourcing include:
    Opportunity to increase capabilities
    More reliable network access
    Source of ideas
    Improve performance and vision

    We feel that, although there are a few disadvantages to outsourcing, the advantages to
outsource will help your business in the long run. It will give your growing company
freedom to focus on what they do best and leave your e-mail worries to your outsourcing
company of choice.




   http://www.outsourcing.com/buyerSite/howandwhy/research/osindex/index.htm




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The Six Pack Consulting Firm


                    System Plan Phase II, Part II
        When describing the main types of cables used in connecting computers there are
three styles: twisted pair, coaxial, and fiber. There is also another way to connect
computers and that is through a wireless network. This paper will examine all these ways
as well as providing insight into the different types of topologies involved.
        The most common type of cable used in computer connections for analog and
digital data is twisted pair, two independent wires twisted around each other. It is
inexpensive, and easy to install, troubleshoot, and repair. Twisted pair cable comes both
unshielded and shielded. Unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable used for LANs is similar to
telephone cable, but has somewhat more severe specifications regarding its vulnerability
to outside electromagnetic interference (EMI) than common telephone wire. Shielded
twisted pair (STP) comes with a shielding around the cable to provide more protection




against EMI.
                                        (Twisted Pair Cable)
       One of the most significant technological breakthroughs in information
transmission has been the development of fiber optic communication systems. The
following characteristics distinguish optical fiber from twisted pair or coaxial cable:
               Greater capacity, smaller size and lighter weight- optical fibers are
                   considerably thinner than coaxial cable or bundled twisted-pair cable
               Lower attenuation- attenuation is significantly lower and is constant
                   over a wide range
               Electromagnetic isolation: optical fiber systems are not affected by
                   external electromagnetic fields. Fiber optic systems are more
                   expansive than twisted pair and coaxial cable in terms of cost per foot
                   and required components.
The downfall to fiber optic cables it that it is much more expensive to install.




                                        (Fiber Optic Cable)
        The most versatile transmission medium is coaxial cable. There are two types
currently used for LAN applications: 75-ohm cable, which is the standard used in
community antenna television systems, and 50-ohm cable, which is used only for digital
signaling - baseband. The cost of installed coaxial cable falls between that of twisted pair
and optical fiber. Coaxial cable can be difficult to install due to the rubber coating
around the wires used to protect them from moisture being difficult to bend. A coaxial
cable can carry much more information than a standard phone line and is highly resistant
to interference.




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The Six Pack Consulting Firm


                                        (Coaxial Cable)


         The final type of computer connection is through a wireless network. Wireless
LANs use high frequency radio signals, infrared light beams, or lasers to communicate
between the workstations and the file server or hubs. Each workstation and file server on
a wireless network has some sort of transceiver/antenna to send and receive the data.
Information is relayed between transceivers as if they were physically connected. For
longer distance, wireless communications can also take place through cellular telephone
technology, microwave transmission, or by satellite. Wireless networks are great for
allowing laptop computers or remote computers to connect to the LAN. Wireless
networks are also beneficial in older buildings where it may be difficult or impossible to
install cables.




                                       (Wireless Network)
        Some topologies include buses, stars, and, rings. The first type, a linear bus is
basically a main cable with a terminator at each end. The connections to the bus are easy
to make and installation is much easier but when the main cable breaks there is a shut
down of the entire system. If the system does go down it is difficult to pinpoint the
problem.




                                         (Linear Bus)
        Stars are designed so that each node is directly connected with a central hub. This
system is easy to install, detect faults, and remove parts however it necessitates more
cable, and is more expensive than a linear bus.




                                         (Star)

        Finally, a star wired ring is similar to a star except the information is passed in a
circular motion, also. This is usually done through a token ring, where computers access




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the network through token passing. A token is “a special series of bits that travels around




a token-ring network.” http://webopedia.internet.com/TERM/t/token.html
                                           (Ring)


References:
http://www.computernessos.it/ATI/wp-media.htm
http://centelusa.com/
http://www.cs.uni-sb.de/~anja/lehre/vorlesung00/book/Computer_Networking/01.05.htm
http://choices.cs.uiuc.edu/schools/gv-wiring.html




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