Preparing to Create a Workgroup

The “Understanding Workgroups” section of this chapter describes workgroups and how you can benefit from them and avoid their limitations. A workgroup isn’t always the right solution to your networking needs, even when it provides the ease-of-configuration that you need. Consequently, your first step in preparing to create a workgroup is determining whether a workgroup is the right solution. If your network meets these requirements, you can probably use a workgroup to solve your basic networking needs:

• It provides basic file and printer sharing.

• (Optional) It provides basic database management support with no more than two custom applications.

• (Optional) It provides e-mail support with a product such as Exchange Server.

• (Optional) It provides centralized Internet access.

• It has no need for complex mission-critical applications involving large databases.

• It has no need for centralized resource management.

• It requires no remote access.

• It has no need to support external applications, a Web site, or Web services.

• It needs no more than 100 nodes in most cases.

After you determine whether you actually need a workgroup configuration, it’s time to spend some time figuring out the details. Remember that a workgroup is made up of peers. Consequently, you don’t have to have one machine that does everything. Don’t be afraid to create a plan that emphasizes the strengths of each machine in the workgroup, even if you plan to use a server. The server should provide centralized storage, but any other machine can support any other task. In fact, it may be beneficial to spread out the tasks so that the server doesn’t become overwhelmed trying to perform every task.

Create a list of the machines you plan to connect, the resources each machine can provide, and the location of each machine. You can use this list as a planning guide for configuring the network later. Make sure to consider the tasks that each machine will normally perform so that you don’t overload it. If the workstations in a workgroup are overloaded, consider getting a dedicated server to reduce some of the load. Obtain a server that can handle the current load plus at least twice as much additional load for future expansion. Most companies find that their server becomes too small, quite quickly if they don’t obtain enough capacity for future needs.

Although the topic is outside the scope of this book, you also need to consider the physical requirements of the network. The network will likely require switches, NICs, cabling (unless you plan to go wireless), and other physical elements. The kind of cabling you choose is also important because the cable must provide support for the network speed you choose or you’ll experience errors in transmitting the data. Whenever possible, use switches instead of hubs because switches have intelligence built into them that makes them more reliable and faster. Some companies don’t consider these issues and end up with cost overruns as a result. If you use a consultant to perform the physical configuration, make sure to plan for the consulting costs and add a little cushion in case the consultant encounters unanticipated problems.

Survey all the applications you need to run and consider these applications as part of the network setup. In many cases, you need to reconfigure the applications to run properly on the network. For example, Office users will likely want to store their data files in a central location so that everyone in the workgroup can access them. The centralized storage requires additional configuration time, and you need to plan for it as part of your preparation.

One of the issues that administrators tend to run into is that everyone wants to add special gizmos to the network simply because they can and not because they require the gizmos. Avoid gizmos when you can because they usually spell trouble. The more gizmos you have, the more complex your network becomes and the more time you spend securing, configuring, and maintaining it. Gizmos add to support costs and usually make users less productive. In short, gizmos are usually a waste of time, effort, and money, so you should avoid them.

Source of Information : For Dummies Windows Server 2008 For Dummies

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