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This assignment has two parts (A & B) each worth 50%, and must be submitted as one file (in word format). This assignment contributes to 60% of the overall module grade. Part A involves developing a suitable software and hardware solution based on the requirements of the case company (Strata Ltd). Part B requires the group to design and evaluate a network system to meet the requirements and performance needs of Strata Ltd. The student group is required to demonstrate their understanding of introductory networking technologies and develop a suitable networking solution. The group should provide diagrams and/or snapshots of all network design simulated using the GNS3 simulator.
This assignment will assess the following module learning outcomes:
- An understanding of the principles of local area network design and configuration. • Practical skills in the assembly and configuration of computing systems.
- An appreciation of the broader study requirements of a computing systems degree course and be able to decide if such a programme of study is appropriate for them.
Strata Limited is a Small Medium Enterprise (SME) based in Manchester. The company provides immigration and visa consultancy services. The company employs two directors, three office administrators, three consultants, and four lawyers. The company uses manual operations and hard copy file systems to manage clients' data. Although the company has successfully assisted well over 200 clients, the increased number of clients has led to more workload and thus requiring a more effective management system. Realising the benefits that the computerised environment can bring, the company now intends to digitise data and create a network to share the data and resources centrally. Therefore, the company has decided to buy software and hardware as well as implement a network to access and share centralised files stored on a local server.
Strata Ltd does not have an IT department at present so they have approached your company, MegaTech, to advise them on the best possible solution for their company. They have decided to divide the project into two parts:
- Software and hardware requirements (more information in part A: Computer System Research)
- Network design for the company as they have no network at the moment and only 1 PC is connected to the internet (More information in part B SOHO Network).
Part A: Computer System Research Exercise (50%)- suggested word limit for this task is 750 words)
All employees including directors, lawyers, office administrators and consultants should have their own computers and should have access to Wi-Fi as well as being able to access two printers/photocopiers centrally. The company advised you that they require computers that are up to date and meet the hardware and software needs of each employee. All employees will be using productivity software such as the Microsoft Office package (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Project) as well as web browsers (Internet Explorer and Google Chrome). Strata Ltd has also been working with a software company to design and develop a database for their clients by using MS Access. It is anticipated that only directors and administrators will be using the clients' database. The company requires all client files to be added to the company database. The database will also store client-lawyer interview data as video files and the estimated database size will be 1.5 Gb. Hence database processing will require powerful computers with enhanced graphic cards, powerful processors, enlarged RAM and large hard disks. Both directors and office administrators are required to use powerful computers. It is anticipated that all computers will use Windows operating systems and you are also required to suggest which operating systems would be best for the company.
Your team is to advise Strata Ltd of the best and most suitable solution to match their needs. This will include hardware and software components for the company. Please note, in the second phase of this project (Part B of this assignment) you will need to design and implement a Small office/Home Office (SOHO) network for this company. Therefore, you do not need to cover any networking components in part A of this assignment.
At the end of this part A, you should make your recommendations to the company. Your team's recommendations should be based on the following requirements:
- Provide a list of components and their minimum technical requirements (storage, space, memory, processor, software, etc.) needed for each employee.
- Identify possible commercial hardware on the current market to recommend to Strata Ltd based on the above requirements. You are required to explain the technical specifications of software and hardware and explaining why the chosen components provide better performance.
Part B: SOHO Network (50%) – suggested word limit is 750 words for this task.
The aim of Part-B is to build a SOHO network ensuring that all PC's should be authenticated through a centralised server for legitimate network resources access. This means all users will be able to access the network resources by using their credentials i.e. username and password. The network access to the outside world could either be through Wi-Fi access points or through an Ethernet connection using unshielded, twisted pair (UTP) cables. It is worth noting that the company operates from a two-storey building. Directors and office administrators' offices are situated at ground level whereas consultants and lawyer offices are on the 1st floor.
Your team has been asked to identify a suitable network topology for building the SOHO network. The SOHO network should be designed using the GNS3 networking simulation software.
While network designing, the following considerations should be addressed; • Selection of the appropriate network topology along with the rationale of its selection.
- Selection of appropriate medium (UTP, STP or Coaxial) for robust network communication.
- Selection of the central network devices such as switches, routers and access point.
Part A: Computer System Research for Digitisation of operations
Strata Limited is an SME based in Manchester and provides immigration and visa consulting services. The company provides services to over 200 clients and all operations are managed as manual processes, and records related to clients are stored in file folders as hard copy documents. At present, there are 12 staffs in Strata to handle all client requests and to oversee operations. The staffs include two directors, three office administrators, three consultants and four lawyers.
Recently, due to increase in clients the company is exploring information systems network to efficiently manage and service all client requests. Due to increase in clients and volume of client requests, the management has decided to explore the use of information network towards having an effective management system (Peppard & Ward, 2016). The IT requirements for Strata are as follows:
- All employees will have separate computers
- Office administrators and consultants will have access to wi-fi network
- All the employees must access two printers/photocopiers in a centralized location
- All employees will have access to the internet
- All computers will be installed with productivity software (MS Office, MS Outlook, and project) along with internet explorer and Google Chrome.
- The directors and office administrators will be using the database and hence would need good powerful processors, more memory, and enhanced graphics cards.
- All the computers will run Windows desktop operating system.