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Project #1: Bill of Details and Network Diagrams for an office LAN

Projects that don't meet these minimum specs will not be accepted and will be docked daily for late submit until they do. Please get any questions answered in class well before the due date.

Two copies of your project are due: 1) A neatly printed copy _not_ in a binder or folder or any kind, stapled at the upper left corner (instructor will have a heavy duty stapler if needed); 2) An 'electronic' copy as a single pdf that contains all requested parts: Floor plan with furnishings, premises wiring, and wall jacks; Rack diagram clearly indicating the DMZ and IP addresses; Purchase Orders; and an accurate Summary of Upfront and Ongoing Costs. Bring the printed copy to class on the due date and attach the electronic copy to an email to the instructor before class on the due date.

If you want critique and feedback, bring your project to class or submit a pdf via email. A max 15 points may be earned if a project is resubmitted so try for all points on the first submit.

Add This Project to Your Portfolio

The project makes an excellent entry in a graduate's portfolio at LinkedIn and to show to a technical interviewer. Be prepared to answer questions about it, maybe discuss other options, or to sit and demonstrate the skills. I like hearing through the year that showing a good LAN or HOL - Hands on Linux project helped get a student into a career.

Honor

This is 100% an Individual Project. It is not a group or team project . Learning to use Visio or other CAD tool, an ability to read and follow instructions, and getting questions answered are part of this exercise. Technical skills are not developed by watching others do them and this is an opportunity to practice and develop technical skills and learn about costs and capabilities of LAN components.

Every key stroke and mouse click should be from the student submitting the project. Do not submit any portion of any files from another student, in any degree of completion, as your own, with or without changes. Never give another student your files in any degree of completion! A lamer/cheat who can't do this work is likely to submit your work as his or her own and you'll be dragged into an honor proceeding for 'facilitating academic dishonesty'.

If another students wants to see your project, show it only if you'd like, and help by answering questions. Helping others learn the tools or about the products involved in the project is a very Ram thing to do, will make more winners on our team, and is one of the best ways of learning more! Students are welcome to discuss the project and work with others, but each of them should be working at their own PC or notebook and never share the files involved, in any degree of completion, or touch another student's keys or mouse.

Specifications

Here's the Memo From The Boss. Read it with a highlighter and come up with an accurate Bill of Details for the purchase and for recurring costs.

Specs for the project are delivered here, in the 'memo from the boss' link above, and some verbally in class. There are a couple of weeks to get questions answered in class, so please start early. Do not make up specifications or substitute another rack diagram or floorplan. I suggest that you design and detail other LAN projects of your own _after_ this project has been completed so that you have more than one to show in your portfolio.

For many students, this is the first time considering what to buy or how hardware and software are priced and maintained. Looking for and reading the specifications for computers and other equipment is an excellent way to learn. It is better to buy most equipment from one or a couple of well-respected suppliers than it is to google separately for each component and make a slew of purchase orders to unknown entities each with one or two components.

Gain product knowledge from the excellent descriptions and specifications at websites like dell.com, hp.com, cdi.com, cdw.com, blackbox.com, tigerdirect.com, or other on-line sources. Ask the instructor questions about what you find and the suitability for the LAN at hand, and the result will be a pro-quality piece for your portfolio. (We used to bring a stack of dozens of 'trade rags' to class for students to learn about products -- now the web is a much more accessible source.)

The network rack is put together similar to the DMZ sketched on the board in class, and another sketch is included in the Memo From The Boss just below.

The rack-mounted servers should be identical, each with a TByte of RAIDed directly attached storage and rigged with at least three ethernet ports, so that any of them can take over the role of any of the others when a server fails. If you find a good deal on a server that doesn't have three or more ethernet ports make sure it has an expansion slot for a pci or pci-express dual or quad port ethernet adapter.

The sketch shows the servers as Application, Database, DMZ/Proxy, and Backup Servers. The three 'working' servers are synch'd to the backup server on the rack, and also to a backup server at the software house's secure hotsite via secure internet. In the event of the failure of one of the servers, or a local or regional disaster, there is a well-rehearsed procedure to change a couple of IP addresses and start appropriate services on one of hot backup servers so business can continue.

Microsoft Visio is recommended for the floorplan and rack diagrams. It's a component of MS Office Pro, and is a de facto standard tool for all kinds of diagrams in business, IS, and IT. It's available free thru the MSDNAA for students in INFO300. Please do not get the limited-use, free download from Microsoft's public site, do get the real Pro version from MSDNAA. Visio will also be used again in INFO361-Analysis & Design, INFO364-Database, and INFO465-Projects and in the advanced courses in all our tracks. Don't wimp out and use the Excel, Word, or PowerPoint drawing tools because they're all you know! The job will be much more difficult since you'll have to invent your own shapes and the diagrams won't be very Pro in appearance.

Excel, or other spreadsheet, makes it easy to do the Purchase Orders, there are templates built-in for them. A spreadsheet is also useful for the summaries of up-front costs and operating expenses. Most students put the final document together in Word and copy/paste the Visio diagrams and Excel bill of details into it, then export it to a pdf to make it easy for the boss, or a technical interviewer or manager, to use the document without owning Excel, Word, or Visio.

Examples

Here are some Examples of winning projects.

Please note: These examples may not show the separate purchase orders required for this semester's project! A screenshot of a 'shopping cart' from an on-line merchant is most welcome and if legible will substitute for that supplier's purchase order. Hand-drawn diagrams, or hand-drawn marks on the printed copy, are not acceptable. Projects will be rejected if the printed copies are absent or are not politely formatted, for example with font too large or a column too narrow to fit a column of extended costs without wrapping on a line, or without the customary columns.

Tips for Pro Work:

The printed copy is of the essence for this project. Electronic copies are not used for scoring the project. On the due date, bring a printed copy at the _beginning_ of class where I'll have a heavy-duty stapler. Please don't submit your project in a binder of any kind. Printed copies that are not delivered at the very beginning of class will be docked a point for late arrival and another point for each midnite passed until the printed copy is delivered. Send an electronic copy of the printed document prior to class as one pdf document, preferably not zipped, attached to VCU-originated email to gasaunde-AT-vcu.edu.


G Saunders,
Dept of Information Systems
VCU School of Business

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