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Based on the scenario you find below, you are to write a technical report for the senior executive of the company you work in, evaluating different technologies to meet the company’s networking requirements. The rest of this specification is organised into two parts: 1) the scenario, which explains the situation of the (imaginary) company you work for, and 2) the instructions how you should approach this task.
1. Scenario Your role / company overview: You have recently joined the IT department of CleverWeb.AU, a medium-sized company with around 40 employees in Melbourne and another 30 in Sydney. Your company has grown fast and staff are not happy with the existing network technology. The plan is to upgrade the company’s LANs and WAN according to current best industry practices, and to evaluate cloud-based alternatives to the current email and office applications. You were hired as a data visualisation analyst, but when the CIO (Chief Information Officer) found out that you did FIT9135 as part of your Master’s degree, she gave you the task to design the new network infrastructure.
1. Up to now, the company was operating its own web server and mail server, and staff use a popular office application package with a word processor and spreadsheet. Staff complain that the office package made it difficult to collaboratively create documents (e.g. with staff from Melbourne and Sydney working together). They are also unhappy with the amount of storage available for emails on the local server, and that searching through those emails is very slow. The requirement is therefore to upgrade the email and office services to be more efficient and to enable easier collaboration. 2. The LANs are currently implemented using 100 Mbit/s switched Ethernet. This has become problematic, because staff would like to BYOD (“Bring your own device”), e.g. using their smartphones in the company network (WiFi is currently not available). Each location (Melbourne and Sydney) has its own subnet. The two locations are connected via a leased line (a packet-switched circuit) that is operated by one of the big Australian telecommunications providers, with a router at each location. The Melbourne office operates a file server, which is also accessible from Sydney, so that files can be shared between the two locations. The same telco provider is also used for Internet access (each site has its own separate connection to the Internet). Management is unhappy with the high costs associated with the leased line. The requirement is to upgrade the LAN to current best practice hardware, including potential WiFi solutions, and to find a better solution for the connection of the two locations.
Your task: For the first requirement, your task is to do some research on the advantages and disadvantages of replacing the dedicated mail server and office packages with so-called Software-as-a-Service solutions. For the second requirement, your task is to propose what kind of technology should be used to replace the old 100 Mbit/s Ethernet, and potentially the leased line. Consider which devices need to be updated, whether wireless networks may make sense, and whether the leased line is required (based on the proposal for requirement 1).
Research and analysis expected in the report: • The CIO wants to be informed about the options at a technical level. However, they expect you to give them enough arguments to also convince senior management, in particular with respect to costs and benefits of any new technology. • Go into some technical detail to explain differences between technologies. It will be useful to create tables for some of the comparisons. You can answer questions such as o What devices are involved in each option and what are their functions? o How does hosting your own servers and using offline office packages compare to online platforms in terms of scalability, reliability, up-front versus long-term costs, and security/privacy concerns? o What kind of (wired and wireless) network technology should be installed in the new office space to facilitate the mobility of the staff and enable BYOD? o What are alternatives to leased lines?
2. Instructions Writing reports is an essential aspect of any IT career. You will be expected to deliver reports that are accurate and factual, that provide evidence for your findings, and that look professional.
Before you start Before starting to write, think about your audience, i.e., who is reading the report? Don’t write for your tutors. Write for your CIO and her decision making team! Carefully read the marking rubric on Moodle to find out what we expect you to write for the different grades.
Sources and referencing
Any claims or recommendations that you make should be substantiated with supporting references. That means that you cannot just claim that A is better than B, you must argue why that is the case and point to external sources that can serve as evidence. You can use the unit’s textbook and other standard literature as sources, but you will also need to use additional online and published resources to find all the technical information and commercial details for this report. Whenever you use material from an external source, make sure that you reference that source. You also need to assess the quality and reliability of the source – e.g., a company might say that their product is better than the competition’s, but you cannot easily trust them. An independent expert review of different technologies is much more trustworthy. 5 You should use the APA referencing style, which is explained in detail here:
Your report should look professional, which means you need to pay attention to spelling, punctuation, grammar. It is important that your report has a clear structure. There is a strict limit of three A4 pages with 11pt font, 2 cm margins for the text, plus an additional two pages for tables and illustrations. Any text beyond this limit will not be marked. Title page, abstract, table of contents and list of references do not count towards the page limit.
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