Small Rural Office Network Rebuild

jmroberts70

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EDIT / CLIFS:

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** WHAT I STARTED WITH **

So, this small real estate office in a rural town was cabled and networked by a real amateur. This company has been fleeced by about 3 different IT support companies over the last 10 years and I'm now there to clean up the mess!


--So this is the corner of the break room / kitchen in the office. There is legacy phone cabling on the wall (some of which is still in use), crap / trash on the floor, and a so-called business network running on unprotected outlet strips (not even surge protected). They run on the same circuit as the kitchen does so the blender, microwave, and refrigerator all affect the power to the network.


--You have to step on a 5 gallon paint bucket or a small ladder to get to the shelf where pile 'o switches reside. About half of them aren't in use...


--Next to that is a switch with POE running their VOIP phones. I already tested their network connection through the phone's Ethernet out port and was able to surf just fine so there's really no need for 2 separate network drops at each desk.

I am doing this in 2 phases as this office is going to be remodeled in a month so I just need to keep them running until I can pull all new cable to each office. First I'm going to install a proper rackmount cabinet to safely and securely store all the equipment and patch panels (at a height that doesn't require a paint bucket to reach). I'm going to install a 1500VA UPS for power protection. Then relocate all the patch panels.

The 2nd phase is going to be in a month but will entail pulling all new cable so that there will be a clean and consistent run to this cabinet and not from about 3-4 holes in the wall at various locations.
 
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jmroberts70

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** WORK BEGINS **

--I've removed all the backerboard that was previously mounted. In most cases, I didn't even need to unscrew anything because it was only screwed into the drywall and didn't hit any studs! Also, they used a lot of particle board and not plywood...

Next, I had my electrician install a new, dedicated circuit for the networking equipment just below the breaker box. By surface mounting the receptacle, I can run future conduit if needed for expansion.

My first issue was the 1" deep pocket in the wall that needed to be even with the wall around the breaker box.


--Filled the gap with a sandwich of 1/4" and 3/4" plywood to make a total 1" fill. Used deep screws to securely anchor this wood to the wall at each stud.




--Mounted a rackmount cabinet to the new plywood wall. I used lag bolts with very wide heads to spread the load and used 3 on each side in the corners of the cabinet.


--Mounted a rail at the bottom and set a rather heavy 1500 VA APC UPS in place.


--Populated the cabinet with the current equipment needed to keep the office running until the remodel. I like to install a switch panel at the top (soon to be stenciled to identify each component). This way, if something needs to be power cycled, no one is reaching in and pulling power cables!

I have also set their current wireless AP box on the top of this cabinet. I intend to use a single Ubiquity Unify AP in the center of the office once the remodel is completed.


--Ran power to the cabinet in from the bottom opening and secured the cable to the wall. I will be adding a stencil to this receptacle saying "network equipment only" so no one hooks up a vacuum cleaner or power saw to this jack!


--I am running temporary jumpers that go out of the cabinet to reach the old cables for the moment. You can also see plenty of cables that aren't being used now that their Internet connections for their PC's are running through their VOIP phone jacks. Also, a majority of the office PC's run wirelessly since they bring in their own laptops most of the time. You can also see the security alarm box that some moron decided to mount almost at the ceiling! I am tracking down the key to the box and will reposition this box at a normal, reachable level in the coming weeks.


--So here's the finished state in Phase 1. It was a 1-day (actually night) job I did over the weekend so there was no service interruption. Agents came in Monday morning and continued to work as normal. Still, even at this state, I feel much better about the network conditions. It is a much simpler configuration, easier to troubleshoot if the need arises, and there is a significant improvement in power protection.
 

piker28

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I would like to file a complaint on all the giant people of the world, we should not bend for you!!

Just kidding, the phase 1 looks real good.
 
D

Deleted member 238539

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Looks really awesome man! In to see phase 2!
 

iGamer

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I'm also looking forward to phase 2, that looks like a complete mess!
 

jmroberts70

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Just eBay. Frankly, the cabinet was a bit of a disappointment. These boxes used to be much thicker, heavy gauge steel.

Thanks everyone for your compliments!! Looks like Phase 2 will not be until the end of the month...
 

jmroberts70

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** PHASE 2 COMPLETE **


–Here is the completed setup. I’ve run all new cabling throughout the office, pulled all legacy abandoned phone cabling, and added a second backboard to the wall for future equipment.


–With the additional backboard installed, I relocated the remaining 66-block that runs just a single analog FAX line (soon to be replaced with a virtual FAX line) and the alarm system. I also relocated the alarm system power to the new receptacle. I will probably be adding a second receptacle to this wall with an independent circuit just for the pending T1 and related equipment that will be installed. Until then, we’ll make due with what’s here. If the alarm company wants to relocate their box to a more reasonable level, they can now as well!


–I ran double the amount of CAT5e cable as was needed but had no need to terminate them all. So I split the spare cables to a separate bundle and labeled them as spares in the back of the cabinet. This turned out to be a good thing as the company decided they wanted to re-activate their analog FAX line (which I wasn’t expecting to do) so I was able to use one of my spare cables. Additionally, one of my lines must have been damaged during the remodel and I was forced to use the second cable run to one of the network drops (That’s why there is still one grey cable in the bundle running to the patch panel -I was hoping to keep them all blue).




--I wasn't able to obtain a bar to run behind the patch panel so I had to rely on the strength of the cables to maintain the form after I had them terminated. I like to leave a good 3-4 inches of straight cable behind the patch panel in the event of troubleshooting or repairs in the future.


–Dressed all the power and data cables around the frame of the cabinet before closing the doors.


–All finished and closed up! After terminating all active cables, I dressed the cable bundles back up to the ceiling and into the space above the suspended ceiling. This means I still have a good 6-10 feet of slack on each cable I’ve run (including my spares). If there is a future change that needs to relocate this panel, I have a large amount of slack to pull from overhead. I like adding the switch panel at the top of the rack to allow power cycling of equipment when troubleshooting. This means no one is reaching back behind equipment to pull power cables. I’ve clearly labeled on each piece of equipment what number they’ve been assigned on the panel as well as a master list on the switch panel itself. Not a bad addition for a relatively low cost!

Future plans involve adding a T1 and all new VOIP phones and a Cisco router / switch to manage the system. At that time, I will install a dedicated WAP to replace the consumer-grade wireless router sitting on the top of the cabinet!

I’m pleased with the result. This is now a secure and reliable network that will be easy to upgrade, troubleshoot, or modify.
 
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Lost-Benji

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Nice and neat job, just not so sure about a heavy UPS with such light-weight hardware holding rack to wall.
 

jmroberts70

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Yeah, the rack cabinet wall thickness was a bit disappointing when it arrived but I'm sure it will hold with no problem.
 

FLECOM

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why would you replace cable internet with a T1?
 

bds1904

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why would you replace cable internet with a T1?
That is my question too. Where I am fttp 100/100 with a 4hr sla managed service costs $1300/mo, and thats rolling in the buildout costs for 2000ft of fiber. If you pay the buildout upfront (or if you have fiber within 500ft or so) you get it for about $900. Compare that to a t1 for $775/mo.
 

Red Squirrel

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That's a nice clean install! Always nice to be able to set something from scratch and do it right from the get go.

As for the T1 my guess is the cable internet service probably does not allow servers/internet services while the T1 does. I wish ISP's would stop with the "no servers" bull crap though... I have a 50/30 fibre connection at home, would rock to run my websites off that instead of a remote server hundreds of miles away. heck they wont even provide a static IP even if I wanted to pay extra. Different SLA on T1s too. But again don't know why they can't just provide "T1 class" fibre service these days, even if they charge extra for it.
 

jmroberts70

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why would you replace cable internet with a T1?
The T1 will be dedicated to voice only. Currently, some moron suggested that they could save some money and get rid of their T1's and link this rural office with the main office via a DSL line at one end and cable internet at the other. Did they save money? Yes. But they go down about once a week (at either end -take your pick). We'll be keeping the cable internet just for data access but we're going to peel away the voice layer and carry that on a more reliable T1 circuit.
 

FLECOM

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eh, down here in Miami T1's are just as unreliable if not more unreliable than DSL/Cable..

it seems AT&T HATES T1 lines, like, a lot
 

hawk82

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Most T1s are provided over SHDSL circuits these days. And copper plants in most areas are aging rapidly, plus maintenance is lacking and fewer employees to do that work. :|
 

djgizmo

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Op, in this thread you made several allusions that other people were idiots or morons because of one thing or another.

You may not know why a person/company did a certain task a certain way. I work for a VoIP provider and I can tell you that having dedicated runs to phones is important in most installs. I'd always recommend having at least 2 runs at every desk so that if the phone reboots, they're computer doesn't lose network connection.

As for the t1, that probably wont solve their office to office connectivity unless the other office has the same company supplying their other office with Internet as well. I didn't see any on premise pbx, so I can only assume theyre either connected to a hosted pbx solution or setup as remote phones to the primary office (which is bad for anything more than 1-2 phones)

If they want stability between the two offices, they probably need a vpn appliance connecting the two offices and have a few scripts reboot the equipment nightly.
 

wizdum

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eh, down here in Miami T1's are just as unreliable if not more unreliable than DSL/Cable..

it seems AT&T HATES T1 lines, like, a lot
Same thing with FairPoint in Maine. I've seen some buildings that are still using old 2-conductor cable for the phone system.
 

swatbat

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Op, in this thread you made several allusions that other people were idiots or morons because of one thing or another.

You may not know why a person/company did a certain task a certain way. I work for a VoIP provider and I can tell you that having dedicated runs to phones is important in most installs. I'd always recommend having at least 2 runs at every desk so that if the phone reboots, they're computer doesn't lose network connection.

As for the t1, that probably wont solve their office to office connectivity unless the other office has the same company supplying their other office with Internet as well. I didn't see any on premise pbx, so I can only assume theyre either connected to a hosted pbx solution or setup as remote phones to the primary office (which is bad for anything more than 1-2 phones)

If they want stability between the two offices, they probably need a vpn appliance connecting the two offices and have a few scripts reboot the equipment nightly.
Yea I tend to agree with the above about running the phone drop separate from the pc drop. I've seen where clients this wasn't done and it ends up causing issues down the road. Also a lot of the phones at least in the past didn't have gigabit meaning the connection to network resources was pushed down to fast ethernet.

I do agree with not knowing why stuff was done a certain way. It looks like it was thrown together in multiple stages, chances are by multiple vendors. Overall it didn't look that horrible although it could have used some quick cleanup. Make no mistake if the option to start over was there it is the best choice.
 
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