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The Build: Existing Site Reconnaissance

One of the most critical tasks when upgrading or building a new network is determining what the client has and how the equipment is configured.

In this case, I need to figure out what equipment to propose for them to purchase and if there are any network configuration notes I need to make.

Your site contact is key for this process to go as smoothly as possible. Another thing to keep in mind as a consultant is that you don't want to spend a lot of unnecessary time, since that equates to the client having to pay more money for your time. I want someone who gets involved with technology as well as the inner workings of the office, applications, etc.

Just a note that with the technology available today, you don't have to physically go onsite for this process, but I prefer it when possible because I usually spot all sorts of things that the client might not be aware of.

The meeting was very productive and I made a list of equipment to replace and any configuration notes for the new network.

For example, the office had a typical consumer-grade router, which i will replace since it only has 100Mb ports and the new internet service will be either 300 Mb or 1 GB. After reviewing the router's configuration, I noticed there was a static router to a non-existant network, port forwarding was enabled to devices that no longer exist, a VPN tunnel configuration that went nowhere

The same goes for their unmanaged 100 Mb POE switches. I suggested new enterprise-grade switches that support POE+, have 1 Gb copper, and support multiple VLANs.

I also noticed that the math didn't add up when i took a quick client/phone/printer count and compared it to the number of switch ports in use. After some discussion, I realized that some users plugged their computers into their Voip phone's pass-thru port and others just left their laptops on wifi. This was done because some of the office cabling and specific switch ports were causing issues. I also ran a network scan tool to document how many devices there were present at that time.

As far as WiFi goes, they had similar consumer-grade wifi/routers and access points that only supported older WiFi standards had limited range and did not support Vlan tagging or multiple SSID's. I then asked if they needed a guest network and the client's face lit right up, so I took that as a yes ;)

I also found out that there is a requirement for VPN/remote access. to date the odd staff member would leverage some of the consumer remote desktop products like Teamviewer, but would like a better solution.

And there were many other things i spotted that you will read about in future articles.

In summary, try to get out in person for these visits, or set up a video conference so you can see, or record what's on site.




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