Your basic ITPro blog... What's going on at work, what I'm interested in.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Upgrading Infrastructure

imageIt's nice when a project comes along that forces you to focus on other areas of your installation that you know need attention, but haven't made the time to tackle. We have a couple of things we are looking to do around here that are requiring us to upgrade some of our infrastructure gear and document as we go along (a nice side-effect).

Our current wireless installation is not really too robust. Using a variety of consumer-class WAPs, we have been endeavoring to provide LAN and guest access for wireless users. The implementation has been, well, support-intensive. This is all on our Mesa campus. On our Gilbert campus -- with its shiny new all-Cisco, highly-engineered and designed network -- we are using Cisco wireless technology. Specifically, we have a Wireless LAN Controller (WLC) and six Wireless Access Points (WAPs) providing both LAN and Guest access to our wireless population. We can do this because the network was engineered for it, set up with a sufficiently-robust VLAN/subnet infrastructure. The WLC that we have can support up to 12 WAPs. With our P2P link between the campuses, we were thinking that we could use this WLC to deploy a few WAPs on our Mesa campus too. Well... yes and no.

Our Mesa campus infrastructure is what I call 'typical'. That is, it has grown 'organically' over time. As such, we have a variety of hardware platforms, models, and capabilities. This is fine (though not ideal) until you try to run more complicated network services and configurations. But, getting back to my first comment, this is allowing us to use the 'wireless upgrade' project to push a mini- 'infrastructure upgrade' project.

imageTo that end, we will be replacing some older, less-functional Dell and HP switches with new Dell PowerConnect 5448 and 5424 switches. With this upgrade, we will have much improved VLAN and QoS support, two technologies that are critical for us moving forward. Our ultimate goal is to deploy a Cisco network on the Mesa campus as well, fully integrating the two campuses, including the Cisco phone system. But, these new Dell switches will get us through until that project gets 'front-burnered'.

Another related project that this is pushing forward is our IP Addressing scheme overhaul. We are currently not really using subnetting effectively on our Mesa campus. Also, our IP addressing scheme on the Mesa campus does not match our Gilbert campus. While this doesn't really matter from a functional standpoint (as long as routing is set up correctly), things would be much more comprehensible if these networks were more similar. Currently, we don't have the VLANs in place to support additional subnets. So, we learn! We learn new things like 802.1Q, GVRP, implementing QoS, WAN routing, etc. Fun stuff!

Our network here will take a major leap forward with these changes.

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