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NCE Informational System Proposal Summary

The following proposal summary has been prepared by the Information Technology (IT) team describing a new information system required by our Advanced Services Network Consulting Engineers (NCEs). The information provided has been summarized and is intended to provide an overview of the proposed project. Executive Summary Within our organization we have a group of Network Consulting Engineers (NCEs) that provide Planning, Design, Implementation, and Operational (PDIO) services to contracted enterprise and service provider clients.

On a number of recent occasions, it has come to light that one NCE is struggling with a design or planning issue that has already been addressed by another NCE. And in some cases, the solutions provided to our clients were not consistent between the NCEs. It has been determined a new system is needed that will provide an orderly and organized data repository that would be available to all NCEs. This system needs to provide an easy method for the NCEs to access and leverage previously defined design solutions. This system will provide several key benefits to the NCE team:

NCE will be able to search for data related to the solution being considered NCE will save time in that we will not “reinvent the wheel” NCE provided solutions will be more standardized Using the same solution repeatedly simplifies supporting our solutions Allows our NCEs to be able to provide backup to one another With standard solutions we increase the probability that we will continually improve the solution. User Requirements The IT team spent time interviewing and observing the NCE team using the current information systems. The team discovered that the current systems lacked the flexibility and access to meet the needs of the NCEs.

In addition the processes to back up an effective workflow are absent. Through this analysis the following key user requirements were identified. These requirements were considered in the selection of the proposed information system. The proposed information system provides for the following: A flexible “form” for data entry A sophisticated search methodology Accessible via a web browser Simple administrative capabilities Capability to “revise” data base entries Backup and archiving capability Maintains statistics of hits to database records Business Requirements

The IT team assembled and reviewed all data and documentation available on the current processes and tools in use by the NCE team today. In doing so we discovered some specific deficiencies that can be addressed in the proposed solution. At this time, we have neither formal procedures nor tools for cataloging and storing NCE design solutions for future reference. This means the NCEs are duplicating some of their efforts. This duplication of effort is causing an increase in solution design time and support costs as well as losing best practices information among NCEs.

To mitigate these issues the following business requirements have been designed into the proposed information system: A data base to store design solutions as they are completed and implemented The ability for the NCE to perform keyword solutions againsthe data base to identify previously developed and implemented solutions. A web based application to access the database. Functionality that includes adding new solutions, modifying existing solutions, collaborattion on designs in progress, and the ability to delete obsolete designs

The system will also provides statistics and reporting capabilities to monitor database usage and performance See Appendix A for a Return on Investment (ROI) analysis Information System Process Flow The proposed system will be accessed via a secure web site with a login and password. As the site is for corporate communication, the servers can reside within the network and with external access provided through VPN, also making the site more secure. Once the NCEs log on to the site, they will be able to enter or access design information entries and supporting documentation.

Access to the system will also be given to project managers and higher management so they can keep abreast of the progress of various solutions based on the information the NCEs enter into the system. Also, through the site the NCEs will have the ability to enter specific and detailed solution architectures including the specific hardware, connectivity, network topologies, and backbone appliances used in their solutions. This will further enhance the database by creating a knowledge base to be shared by other NCEs, TAC, and management.

By using metatags and keywords associated to the entry, the database can be queried for specific solutions to be brought up for reference. As NCEs continue to enter solutions into the system, the growth of the database will yield more information and will result in a very extensive library of solutions. Following is a slide that depicts the business functionality of the system. Figure 1: NCE Groupware Information System Technical Design System Design The system will run in a Microsoft SQL Server 2000 data base environment. This environment will include two Dell Power Edge servers running Windows Server 2003 as the operating system.

The two servers will be clustered to allow fault tolerant redundancy and will run in an active passive environment. The primary server will handle all database requests from the web servers. Should it fail, the second server will be configured to recognize the failure and switch to active mode, processing database requests until the primary server is restored to service. The data disk storage for these servers will be housed externally in a mirrored array that is raid configured with a hot spare drive to protect against failure. The external storage array will be backed up incrementally nightly in the event a reload in required.

Each server will have an internal drive to house the operating system and other system files. This drive will be mirrored by another drive to protect against failure of a system drive. The web servers will be configured in the same manner as the database servers. They will contain internal mirrored system drives to protect against drive failure. This type of configuration will provide redundancy against a server failure. Our web servers will reside in a DMZ (demilitarized zone) and will be load balanced and scalable. The load balancing will occur in a round robin fashion.

If a server fails, the load balancer will detect this loss of the server and drop it out of the round robin. This set up also provides easy scalability. Should the load on the server farm become intensive, we can simply add another server to take some of the load. See Appendix C for a hardware list for this information system. Network Design The network portion of the proposed solution will consist of firewalls, routers, switches, load balancers, and content engines (used here as reverse-caching appliances). This combination of equipment will provide us with security, performance, and scalability.

Our database server will sit inside our internal network to protect our data from unauthorized access. Our web servers will sit in our DMZ and will access the database server through an internal firewall. Access to the web servers from the internet will come through an outside or shield router and an external firewall, which is attached to a T1 data line provided by out Internet Service Provider. Directly behind the external firewall in the DMZ, we will place a load balancer. This device will do server load balancing (SLB) for the web servers.

The content engines will be placed behind the load balancer as well. The load balancer will direct HTTP requests for static content to the content engines. The content engines will serve up content directly when a request is made for an object it has stored in cache memory. If the object requested is not in the cache engine, it will make an HTTP request to the webservers through the load balancer. The load balancer will receive HTTP requests for non-static content directly from the clients and will load balance the request to the best available server. Following is a picture that depicts our network design.

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