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Recommendations for a growing company...

Discussion in 'Networking & Security' started by Shadowdust, Sep 10, 2010.

  1. Shadowdust

    Shadowdust

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    I've been working for a business that's been established in Northern California for over 45 years. Recently, my employer opened up a new location in Los Angeles. Originally, we planned to switch to Quickbooks Online (QBO)to handle the two locations' accounting. After starting a QBO subscription, I found that it lacked way too many features to be a viable solution for our needs. So now I need to find a better way to connect our two locations short of having to have them mail their paperwork every week.

    I'm kind of a novice at understanding networking solutions so I really don't know much about what my options are for connecting two companies that are so far apart. I'm currently trying to get info on AT&T's MLPS PNT service but I don't know what to expect. We're going to need a solution that will allow us to connect to the same QB database if possible.

    What sort of solutions are out there that are relatively affordable for a growing business? And please remember that outside of simple local networks, I really am a novice of this stuff so the simpler the better in explanation. All responses are appreciated!:toast:
     
  2. Completely Bonkers New Member

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    You need two routers that support VPN. You create a LAN on one side,e.g. 192.168.0.x and a LAN on the other 192.168.1.x and the VPN will bridge the networks to that it acts as one LAN.

    Regarding accounting: keep it simple. Software like QB is horrible IMO in that it tries to do too much in one package with "live" updating. Too complex. Too slow. Too inflexible. Make sure the accountant chooses the most productivity-efficient solution for him and his team.

    That is why good yet simple accounting software is so expensive - you save money in the end on productivity gains.
     
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  3. Hybrid_theory

    Hybrid_theory

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    Ewww quickbooks haha. I had to deal with that at a school where they interfaced with a server, not fun. Anyway, yea a vpn is definately the way to go. What you want is a site to site configuration. The VPN devices will look for traffic destined for the remote network, bring up the VPN tunnel and send it over. If you dont have routers capable of this, openswan is free and can be installed on Linux.
     
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  4. Easy Rhino

    Easy Rhino Linux Advocate

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    you don't need a VPN if you are simply uploading accounting information to a remote database. just setup a user/pass on it and use accounting software than can upload.
     
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  5. Solaris17

    Solaris17 Creator Solaris Utility DVD

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    protip: w/e you decide please dont ever switch to peach tree.
     
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  6. andrew123 New Member

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    Use Frame Relay.

    Talk to your local ISP / Telco provider about getting Frame relay installed, that way you don't have to run a pesky VPN solution (VPN has all sorts of headaches, split tunnel/full tunnel modes, running a Cisco ASA? Installing VPN Clients. blah.. save yourself the trouble).
    Not to mention, using a VPN you're effectively trusting the internet to do arbitrary routing over whatever path it see's fit, you don't really have control over how the data gets to where it does, and along the way it could go over a host of other providers, frame relay is routed over dedicated circuits (virtual circuits) that are more secure.

    Frame relay is set up like so.

    Network Location 1 (switch) --> Router 1 --> CSU/DSU --> Frame Relay --> CSU/DSU --> Router 2 --> Network Location 2 (switch)

    A CSU/DSU stands for a Channel Service Unit / Data Service Unit. In essence it converts the serial output from your router into a format ready for transmission over whatever the layer 1 media your ISP has set-up for you to access the frame-relay circuit they provide you.

    The _really_ nice thing about frame relay is that as your organization grows, your network becomes scalable, all you need to hook up one more location is another CSU/DSU and another Router / Switch.. and all the routing is over dedicated circuits (well, Virtual Circuits from the Telco/ISP's end of things). They do give you something called a commited information rate that is effectively saying 'we promise you will always have at least XXX MBit's for your WAN connection speeds'.

    They're not too expensive either.

    In my experience, VPN's work great for providing a entrance into a secure network for employee's in the field, I wouldn't use one as a replacement for intranetwork WAN connections.
     
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  7. Completely Bonkers New Member

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    You don't need VPN client software. Just get two routers that make the VPN bridge between them. It is very simple. All machines and printers etc. are now on one LAN.

    Just to make sure you dont run into VPN headaches, make sure both routers are same brand and model series.

    Read appendix E: ftp://downloads.netgear.com/files/fvl328_ref_manual.pdf

    Yes, there are more sophisticated solutions. But for a small business VPN is the way to go. (No additional monthly costs, just your regular internet connection at both locations).
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2010
  8. Kreij

    Kreij Senior Monkey Moderator Staff Member

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    If the company is growing and there is the possibility that more locations may be something to consider in the future, now would be a good time to invest in a software package that gives you all the features you need, including multiple site access to realtime data.
    Generate the current requirements and also plan in future growth when deciding upon a package. Consider redundancy to reduce the chance of downtime (which will now affect multiple locations).

    It will mean an investment up-front, but will show a cost savings in the long run in both increased productivity, reduced chance of catastrophic failure and lower administrative costs, if implemented correctly
    If you cobble together only what you need at the moment, you will be going through this same exercise (and expense) again in the future when the need arises.
     
  9. Completely Bonkers New Member

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    While Kreij does offer mature strategic investment wisdom, for $50 you can pick up 2 VPN capable routers off ebay and have your LAN bridge working tomorrow after a couple of hours configuration.

    And while you have the VPN working, you can take all the time you need to learn-up on and design the future-proof overkill-for-a-small-buiness system of tomorrow.

    Another good read: http://www.plathome.com/products/packetix/manual/html/10-5.htm
     
  10. Kreij

    Kreij Senior Monkey Moderator Staff Member

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    I guess that really depends on how small the company is at the moment, and what vision the boss has for it. It als depends on what the company does.

    You do not have to spend an inordinate amount of money as many applications allow you to purchase only the modules and functionality that you need. These packages also allow you to expand in the future by simply purchasing needed modules and dropping them into your already existing setup.

    But I cannot argue that a simple VPN is quick and cheap. :)
     
  11. andrew123 New Member

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    You can use VPN but it's not really geared towards 'Growing' a company, it's a temporary solution, but if you expand to multiple sites you will want a bonified WAN connection. Just my 2 cents.
     

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