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Server w/ Workstations

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Ryman24:
Greetings,
It's been a while since I have ventured to this forum, but I'm hoping to find someone with experience in business servers amongst you. Here is my situation:

I currently hold a position on the board of trustees in a volunteer fire department. We have recently moved into our new, very beautiful, multi-million dollar facility. I am currently working on ideas to fit the new building with computers, looking at a total of 8 computers.

I'm hoping to find someone who can at least recommend or point me in the right direction of setting up one server with several workstations attached to it, allowing me to control all of the software that goes onto the hard drive and still allowing everyone to access it from any workstation.

Any at all help is, as always, greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Ryan

gryphon:
This is what I know of the Dutch fire department. Use it at your own needs. :)

Their network has two parts. The network lines. Which unlike corporate network connections where you buy a network line with certain specs ( bandwidth, uptime, performance), specs that are dictated by the ISP and you just pick the options you like. They have reversed this process. They dictate the terms. ( bandwidth, uptime, performance). And where usually you as consumer can get a refund if the network lines are not up to specs, they have that reversed to. Meaning if the ISP does not deliver what they promised. They get sued.
This results in only a select group will even start considering suppling network lines. As 99,999% uptime and fall back are hard to deliver. Even more when you get sued for bankruptcy if you fail to do so.
(remember this is networking in layman's terms. Although the clue is the fire department dictates term and not vise versa where you get lines, and no refund if they don't work)

Second part are the computers. A fire department in Roermond (Netherlands) uses a NAS cluster on their primary location, and a full backup a couple of kilometers outside the city which can when needed fully replace the primary location. Again in layman's terms. :) The use multiple servers clustered on the main location for all the data. That cluster is fully synchronized with a backup location (housing all the backup servers for the city, so not only the FD). On the main location they can handle one server going down. And in emergency's they can change location without data loss or loss of functionality.

Now, both points are not for a voluntary fire department and are used in The Netherlands by the government. Point is, when you are setting up stuff that is used to save lives. Don't do partial-solutions. You are setting up the tools needed by others. Without that they can't even start doing their jobs.
First make sure you know what you need, software wise, network lines and hardware. Simple questions like why do they need computers and what do they need to do. How important is that software and what happens when we can't access that software / data for what reason soever.
Write a simple (and non technical) report for that. And take that to a company that knows what they are doing (and have done it before). Set it up simple, efficient but most importantly make sure you get what you need (no more), and no excuses.

If you have any doubts about the solution offer, ask until you understand what both sides want and can deliver. It happens only to often that people ask for computer / software / ICT solutions without fully knowing themselves why they, and what they need. And that companies deliver services you don't need, never asked for and keep saying well, that's just the way it works.

Ryman24:
Thanks for the response.

Are there companies that specialize in this sort of work. What I mean, is obviously when you think computers, names like Dell and HP come to mind. Now they offer servers, but where do they rank? Are there specialist that I should seek out first?

Thanks,
Ryan

gryphon:
Dell and HP are both hardware suppliers. Good ones but still just hardware suppliers.

Getronics and Atos Origin for example but have experience with setups like what you (might) need.

I'd start with talking to the board. Ask what they want. Which applications and very basically walk through everything you might need. First important thing you need is to know what you want, what you don't what and what is unacceptable in your desired solution. After that start inviting a couple companies to see what they can do for you.

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