Setting up a small company network -- need some suggestions

Black Morty Rackham

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Hi everyone,

I work at a small company. It's not a single company, as such. It's sort of half-way between an ad agency and a rent-an-office sort of space. We're a bunch of people all running our own companies, but we do a certain degree of work together as well. Up until now, we don't actually have a network of our own and it's a huge pain in the ass. People are sending huge files to each-other via Sprend or Hightail or similar services, via wifi. Having a dozen people send 100-megabyte files across wifi back and forth all day is not much fun. There is a physical network in place which I've spent the day sorting out. It seems to be working, so at least now we have gigabit ethernet to all workstations. But I still need to sort out the whole file server issue and that's where I need a hand.

My ideal solution would be something like Dropbox, except hosted in-house. There's going to be a maximum of about 30 users, but probably no more than 15 at any one time. I want each user to be able to store files locally on their computer and synced to the file server. Sharing files between several users and such would be necessary here, and being able to access files from outside the local network as well. Mobile apps would be neat but isn't required. Is there such a thing? If not, I'll settle for some kind of NAS setup where we just access a normal file server. Ideally with some kind of external connectivity though. What are the best options here on a shoestring budget? I doubt we'll need more than about 8 TB of storage, preferably in RAID10 or something such for read performance and data safety. This thing won't be the most mission critical thing ever, though. We'll all keep our own backups as well on external drives and such. I'm mostly building it for convenience rather than safety, but that doesn't mean I can ignore the safety aspects.

I think we've got an old Mac Mini that's not being used. We can buy some kind of external storage housing to attach to it. Maybe even a new small computer.

Other info: we're sitting on a fibre internet connection, and it usually reaches about 50 Mbps. It's not really great but it's fast enough for the most part. But if we start syncing all our data to an external cloud service, our internet will get awfully slow awfully quickly. That's one of the reasons I want something local. Also, space is much cheaper locally in the long run.

What are my options? Any recommendations? Am I barking up the wrong tree with the whole "our own cloud" thing?


Edit: forgot to mention, the network is mostly Macs. There are a few of us using Windows though. No Linux machines yet -- but that might change.
 

Black Morty Rackham

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Dropbox does LAN sync, but that wouldn't stop it from also doing internet sync, which would quickly turn out internet connection into mush. I'd prefer to not spend our entire bandwidth on syncing files to remote storage. Dropbox isn't very expensive, but it does kind of add up. Dropbox Teams for 20 users during a two-year period is $7200. I kind of get a feeling I could build a pretty decent amount of storage for that kind of money.


SharePlan looks interesting, but no word on price on their website. That's always worrying. I will contact their sales team and get a quote. thanks!
 

firedrow

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OwnCloud is your solution. It's an in-house Dropbox clone. Each user has their own folder structure, users can share files between them, and it does have mobile clients.
 

Nate7311

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Why not a local NAS that all users have access to and with both Private and Shared-access shares. The major NAS's (QNAP/Synology) also offer web-based, iPhone, Android apps for access to those files for off-premise. Snag a 4-bay unit and some 1TB drives for $600ish out the door.

Edit: I missed the 8TB request, so a 4bay unit with 1TB drives are out, but you get the idea.
 

Durpity

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I would agree that OwnCloud would be most likely the best solution. However, it isn't a turn-key solution and you need to learn a little bit about server administration. I've got OwnCloud running on my personal server and it works very nicely.

However, OwnCloud would only cover half of your needs. You will also need somewhere to store the files. Thus you would also need to either build a NAS box and/or install enough storage in your OwnCloud box.

If you do not feel comfortable enough building a production level server setup, then there are a number of NAS units out there which have remote access features.
 

Black Morty Rackham

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Why not a local NAS that all users have access to and with both Private and Shared-access shares. The major NAS's (QNAP/Synology) also offer web-based, iPhone, Android apps for access to those files for off-premise. Snag a 4-bay unit and some 1TB drives for $600ish out the door.

Edit: I missed the 8TB request, so a 4bay unit with 1TB drives are out, but you get the idea.
4 TB hard drives are pretty cheap nowadays too, so 4x4 TB in RAID 5 or 10 would probably be sufficient. The main reason for wanting a system where data is effectively cached accessed locally instead of constantly being pulled off the network would be to decrease network lag and make it faster to work with large files. Many users sit with pretty heavy Photoshop documents and such and I know from experience how slow it can be to save a 3 GB Photoshop file across a network, especially when other users are doing the same. Especially compared to a local SSD.

But I will investigate QNAP and Synology as well. Cheers.




I would agree that OwnCloud would be most likely the best solution. However, it isn't a turn-key solution and you need to learn a little bit about server administration. I've got OwnCloud running on my personal server and it works very nicely.
Network admin is probably the area of computing where I'm the least knowledgeable, but I could probably figure out how to set it up if it's not too complex. I think it might be worth a shot at least.
 

Durpity

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Network admin is probably the area of computing where I'm the least knowledgeable, but I could probably figure out how to set it up if it's not too complex. I think it might be worth a shot at least.

It's fairly straight forward to setup. Mine is running as a virtual machine on ESXi. If you do have to buy a machine to run OwnCloud on, take a look at setting it up on a hypervisor. That will make it simple to add more servers down the road if you need to. Plus LDAP/AD integration makes user management a breeze.

On another note, since you're concerned about the bandwidth getting bogged down, do you have an internal mail-server or is your email hosted externally?
 

/usr/home

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Synology. Has Cloudstation which is their own version of Dropbox. You don't even need to forward any ports.

LOVE Synology NASes.
 

Grentz

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Guys a NAS is only part of the issue...storage...the other part of wanting to have essentially "offline" or "local" files on each machine that then sync to the NAS is a separate requirement which is where something like ownCloud comes into play.
 

/usr/home

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Guys a NAS is only part of the issue...storage...the other part of wanting to have essentially "offline" or "local" files on each machine that then sync to the NAS is a separate requirement which is where something like ownCloud comes into play.

Synology supports this. Look up CloudStation. It's built into DSM.
 
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