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My first "Ground-Up" business network

post #1 of 262
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About a year and a half ago, I was jobless. Not because I am lazy, but because my previous employer decided to terminate me because, on my lunch, I used my personal email to chat with my buddy about installing the latest version of PHP on my personal web server I use to host a car site... They said I knew too much about computers and escorted me out the door.

I was reading through the Job Classifieds in my local newspaper, and ran across a call center telemarketing job. I needed a job - rent and car payments were coming due and I was desperate. This is not a good area to be jobless, because even $10/hr jobs are hard to come by. I called the number on the ad and spoke with a man who told me they were the company that puts the ads and coupons on the back of grocery store reciepts. In my head, I was thinking "oh, lame.". - so basically, what you want me to do is sit there for 8 hours calling businesses and trying to set them up with advertising on grocery store receipt. not cool. After a while of talking to him, I had no intention of working for the company, but he insisted I come talk to him - he said I had a great phone personality. Uh, Ok. I decided to go in and talk to him - after all, its not like I had a job to be to...

I arrived at 2:30PM at the office and went inside to my meeting. I looked around horrified - no computers! Just phones on the desks, and paper "lead packets". What kind of sick, sick world is this?? Again, needing to pay my bills, I stuck it out and spoke with the same man I spoke with on the phone and eventually I accepted a job with the intention of staying just long enough to find another job. I started Monday.

Two months went by -- every day, calling 200 businesses, setting 1 or 2 appointments. Mind you, I had to write down every phone number I called, and if they were interested, not interested, etc. It was such a time waster. I asked to see our call system computer knowing there HAD to be a way to track the calls electronically. I just knew it! After a lot of research, I finally did it. Automatic call tracking for all 20 reps on the floor! I got a raise - the loved me - a $2 raise in 2 months.

I'll spare you the details for the last year, but basically I became the IT guy slowly, and muscled out their paid "rent-a-geek" outfit because he didn't like me, and actually SABOTAGED a computer I built for the company after telling the owner it would be unreliable. He SABOTAGED it and I had proof. Bye Bye rent-a-geek.

I built 3 computers, maintained the whole phone system, the file server, the other 5 computers in the office, and the printers, and the website. But that wasn't enough. From day 1, I knew this place needed COMPUTERS!

Last month, I finally got the go-ahead to spend money to implement computers. Sweet! What am I going to do? First I have to figure out everything and how it will work...

1. Internet Connection- currently 1.5mb/768kb DSL. That'll have to change. Edit: 2 8Meg up, 1Meg down connections installed.
2. Complete Desktops or Thin Clients? Edit: 2 Thin WyseOS clients successfully booted off Pxeboot.
3. Server to handle it all? Edit: Dell Poweredge 2950 Installed with Edubuntu for Thin client Support
4. Switches? Routers? Cabling? AHHHH!!! Edit: Cat5 Cabling to every desk, Cat6 Cabling between network devices installed. I have 2 PowerConnect 2748 Web Managed switches, and a Linksys Load-Balancing Router for the internet connections.

In the end, money is a big issue, as they are not looking to break the bank on this project, so basically I decided on the following...

1 Dell Poweredge 2950 Server
20 Wyse Thin clients - WyseOS
20 19" WideScreen monitors
2 switches
1 router
1 firewall
cabling.

A lot of people may wonder why I did it this way... and here's the reason, but I want to know how others would have done this!

The call center agents only need internet and email.

20 thin clients boot up and get their desktops off RDP from the server. Basically I only have to maintain the server. The server will be running Ubuntu 64bit Server and will be serving up FireFox. This saves licensing costs for all the computers, since all they will be doing is using firefox anyhow, and also adds security that they can't really mess anything up. If a thin client fails, I just unplug it and plug in a new one. simple. I bet the thin clients fail less than a normal computer. They are solid state, no hard drive, no fans, etc. They consume 96% less electricity than a normal computer too.

Anyhow, I am placing the order on the 22nd - thoughts about this? How would you do it?

P.S. I have no formal education in this, so this is big for me. I know computers very, very well, but this is a huge project for me. I have never gone to any schools for computers.
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post #2 of 262
First I must say, great work. I am glad to hear you moved up the ranks quickly. I wish I could plant a job like that sometimes.

I like your idea of thin clients, saves some hassle plus they don't need to be screwing things up. Personally, you sound like you are off to a great start. You're going to need a much much bigger internet connection. Probably 20Mbps+. Other than that.

Thumbs up!
    
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post #3 of 262
What's the name of the company? If they are going to boom soon, I want some stocks!
    
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post #4 of 262
Brilliant man. Great inginutity in making yourself an IT position, great choices for the network itself. Going with RDP clients will be very good at keeping the employees from bunking the network, and should make them much more productive.

Single piece of advice: Look into a database program. Here at work we use M$ access (i'm sure you don't wana use that ). The reason this will help is this. 1 person will be in charge of inputing the phone lists into the the database. Then you can assign portions of the phone lists to people so that when they open the database their list pops up. They will then be able to mark them off as they call them, mark who they spoke to, successful or not, meeting dates, etc. Should completley elliminate paper from the company, make the employees more productive, and centrailze info to prevent repeat calls, people not getting called, etc.
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post #5 of 262
This goes to prove that a lot of the things that we talk about here on this forum (and ones like it) might seem elementry to us when in fact it is ROCKET science to the masses.

It's always good to hear a good success story! Keep up the good work
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post #6 of 262
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HatesFury View Post
Brilliant man. Great inginutity in making yourself an IT position, great choices for the network itself. Going with RDP clients will be very good at keeping the employees from bunking the network, and should make them much more productive.

Single piece of advice: Look into a database program. Here at work we use M$ access (i'm sure you don't wana use that ). The reason this will help is this. 1 person will be in charge of inputing the phone lists into the the database. Then you can assign portions of the phone lists to people so that when they open the database their list pops up. They will then be able to mark them off as they call them, mark who they spoke to, successful or not, meeting dates, etc. Should completley elliminate paper from the company, make the employees more productive, and centrailze info to prevent repeat calls, people not getting called, etc.
Already did.
SugarCRM - Commercial Open Source CRM
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post #7 of 262
Quote:
Originally Posted by talntid View Post
Brilliant. +Rep for simple, functional, affordable, and professional network
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post #8 of 262
I'd kill to be in a position such as yours. Thats an awesome story man, really. I love the idea of thin clients and am appalled more companies do not implement them. What router / firewall are you looking at?
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post #9 of 262
Thread Starter 
I'm not sure what router I will go with, but I am pretty sure I am going to use the SonicWall PRO 2040 Internet Security Appliance
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post #10 of 262
I just thought of something... you're going to need 3 switches. One to plug the server and the other switches in.


-------------------------------------------------server
Internet > firewall > router > switch 1> switch 2 > clients
--------------------------------------------------switch 3 > clients
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