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Solutions for connecting 2 offices

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  • Solutions for connecting 2 offices

    Hi all,

    ok, we're opening a 2nd office about 60 miles from our head office. Currently we run a pre-dominantly server 2003 network with users connecting to TS via RDP (all apps installed on server).

    The 2nd office could be setup so that the users simply RDP into the head office the way we would if we were working from home, as the data and apps are available to all users in both sites.
    However, this can often be laggy (depending on internet connection/bandwidth/contention). It will only be a standard ADSL+ connection, and with the 2nd site users connection like this permanently, i'm not sure this is a viable solution.
    Also we have cad workers that have autocad installed locally (certainly not on the app server for obvious reasons). However they'd need to access the head office server to get to cad files, and herein lies the problem. Copying'n' pasting/dragging'n'dropping files across a RDP connection (by allowing the local drive to be connected to the server session) is laboriously and painfully slow, no matter what the connection.

    And it's in this that i'm looking for solutions from you guys please.


    VPN - i've never used one though tbh, so not too sure. Am i right in thinking that they tunnel the local pc resources through to the head office, thus allowing files to be dragged/copied to and from server to local desktop.
    FTP - but this has the hassle of having to be managed with user accounts being set up and multiple copies of the files residing on the server, and i'm the only person supporting all this (no help)
    Lan to Lan router - This would then allow the user to have a shortcut to the storageserver on their local desktop and they can then drag'n'drop, just like we do now in the head office. Seems the more practical solution at the moment.

    Our current hardware in head office is a Watchguard Edge X55e, which would probably need to be replaced, so existing hardware compatibility is probably not an issue as we'll replace if needed.

    Any suggestions would be very welome.

  • #2
    Re: Solutions for connecting 2 offices

    IMHO, simplest method is VPNs (router to router). Speed will be limited by your ADSL upstream speed (typically under 1mbit/sec)

    Most decent ADSL routers will support this and if you use the same model at both ends, configuration will be dead simple.

    I strongly recommend you have a server in your 2nd office acting as a domain controller and also replicating files to the main one. If you have Server 2003 R2 or better still, Server 2008, you have DFS-R as a replication solution so you can access files locally and synchronise changes between offices. 2008 will also allow you to use an RODC (as long as you have one regular 2008 DC) so increasing security.

    With a site-site VPN each site will be in a separate subnet and you can see resources in the other site, so just drag and drop files into them

    If you don't feel entirely comfortable with the set up, it will be a quick and easy job for a consultant and the peace of mind you will gain will probably be worth the day or two they charge you for
    Tom Jones
    MCT, MCSE (2000:Security & 2003), MCSA:Security & Messaging, MCDBA, MCDST, MCITP(EA, EMA, SA, EDA, ES, CS), MCTS, MCP, Sec+
    IT Trainer / Consultant
    Ossian Ltd

    ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **


    • #3
      Re: Solutions for connecting 2 offices

      Thanks Ossian,

      So what would you say the cons are for using a Lan to Lan router are? Or am i misunderstanding the intepretation of what the device actually is.
      If its just a device to link to offices to the same lan then would this not be ok (bandwidth providing)?

      The VPN sounds ideal, the way you explained it, although i've never used one, so yes, i'd get our I.T. consultant company to help out there. But if you have any more info or can point me towards any decent online resources for my particular scenario i'd appreciate that too.

      I've obviously asked on here so i can get some impartial advise, rather than their preferred upsell.

      As for the ADSL, we're 240m from the local exchange so we should be getting nigh on 20mbit worth of bandwidth.

      Oh, in case it matters, at head office we have a 4mbit MIA leased line (synchronous and uncontended), and 2 x 20mbit cable modems (20:1 contended).

      Head office:
      1 x Server 2003 Standard R2 (DC) - 32bit
      2 x Server 2003 Standard R2 (TS) - 32bit
      1 x Server 2003 Storageserver (DATA) - 32bit
      1 x Server 2008 (EXCHANGE) - 64bit

      BackupExec handles all our data backups to an 8-bay LTO2 autoloader

      Thanks again


      • #4
        Re: Solutions for connecting 2 offices

        I'd agree with Ossian and go with some sort of site-to-site VPN and use DFS to have local copies of the files in both locations.

        No real drawbacks to having a site-to-site VPN but you need to make sure, especially during initial replication, that the line isn't overloaded as DFS can quite easily corrupt things IME if the buffer is overflowed. Remember as well that there will be other traffic on the link, such as Outlook/Exchange traffic, AD replication, AV updates etc.

        It's your ADSL upload rather than download that will be the limiting factor, 1-1.5mbps is typical in most cases.
        BSc, MCSA: Server 2008, MCSE, MCSA: Messaging, MCTS
        Cruachan's Blog


        • #5
          Re: Solutions for connecting 2 offices

          A LAN to LAN router is not going to cover 60 miles unless you look at a dedicated fibre line. This is really not a viable option IMO due to cost.

          ADSL2+ is an option if it is available in your area. Ok, just re-read and you think you are getting 20mbps so it is ADSL2+ and not ADSL. Since it is ADSL2+ see if you ISP supports Annex M. This give 3Meg upstream instead of the standard 1Meg. You ADSL2+ modems also need to support Annex M.

          And just because I am a bandwagon person, I also agree that a site-to-site VPN seems like the best option.
          1 1 was a racehorse.
          2 2 was 1 2.
          1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
          2 2 1 1 2


          • #6
            Re: Solutions for connecting 2 offices

            Hi biggles,

            thanks for the input, oddly enough i was researching annex m earlier today. Our telephony/broadband provider suggested it but did say that he's never seen anyone get anywhere near 3mbit upload, more like 2mbit max.
            But still worth looking into.

            It does seem that site-to-site vpn is the recommended solution, so i'l do some more digging.

            Thanks for your help fellas, if there is anything anyone would like to add, i'd appreciate all extra advice.



            • #7
              Re: Solutions for connecting 2 offices

              Yeah, well ADSL2+ is supposedly 24mbps but only up to 800mts from the exchange but nobody gets that speed either. Still 2 meg is better that 1.
              1 1 was a racehorse.
              2 2 was 1 2.
              1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
              2 2 1 1 2