Network Equipment Configuration
This section will cover the most important part of a network installation: setting up and configuring the router. As explained previously, a router is used to join different networks or sub-networks together. It also allows information to be forwarded only to the destination device, therefore reducing traffic on the network. Cisco routers are the most dominant types of routers available.
The first step in setting up a Cisco router for the network consists of choosing a convenient location, then plugging it in an electrical power point. Using a serial console cable, connect the router’s console port to the COM1 port at the back of laptop or PC, using a rolled cable. This computer will be used to enter the commands required to configure the router. If the computer is running Windows, it is possible to use the HyperTerminal to configure the Cisco router. To access the HyperTerminal, the network administrator would go to Start / Programs / Accessories / Communications, and click on the HyperTerminal icon. The network administrator should then create a new connection, assign a name to it, change the baud rate to 9600 baud, and then click ok. The router console will show up on the screen, and the router is ready for configuration. At this stage, the router should be powered on, it will display the boot-up sequence, and once it’s done, the administrator should begin typing in commands to configure the router and assign IP addresses to the host computers on the network.
A server can be configured by remotely accessing it using its IP address, using remote desktop connection or telnet. A network administrator can install and configure the server, such as Windows 2003 server, and install and configure several services on that server such as:
- Email server, to create and manage email accounts for the users in the company. For example: Exchange server 2007.
- DNS server, to store information about computer names and their matching IP addresses, and be able to translate a computer name to its IP address, because it is generally easier for users to remember the name of a computer rather than its IP address.
- DHCP server, to assign unique IP addresses to all the computers and networking devices on the network. If the network is composed of several sub-networks, it is possible to have 1 DHCP server in one sub-network, and a relay agent in each of the other sub-networks. The relay agent would redirect any requests sent by a newly connected computer or networking device to the DHCP server, in order for them to obtain a valid unique IP address.
- File server, to enable users to have access to files and resources centrally stored on the network without having to physically transfer the data using external storage devices.
- Print server, to enable users to have access to printers on the network.
- Web server, to store web pages and display those pages on the internet using the HTTP protocol.
- Database server, to store and manage databases. For example: Microsoft SQL Server 2008.
It is to note that these servers can be either run as applications within the server operating system (such as Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2008), or can be rack-mounted in a server cabinet, as explained previously, for large organisations.
Multiple equipment configuration
As discussed in this section, some organisations would install cabinets and racks inside the cabinets in their data centres. These cabinets enable the systems administrator to configure multiple networking equipments by providing a monitor, keyboard and a touchpad mouse connected to these equipments.
Testing the configuration
After connecting and configuring the network, the network administrator should be able to test the configuration and make sure that all computers are connected and have access to the network resources as desired.
Therefore, the first step consists of assigning IP addresses to the computers. This can be done either manually by the network administrator, or dynamically, should a DHCP server exist on the network. Next, in order to test the configuration, there are several tools that the administrator can use, such as:
These tools will be explained briefly in this lesson, but will be discussed in much more details in lesson 10. For example, “Ping” is a command used to determine whether a computer on the network is active or not, whereas the tracert command (or traceroute) is used to show the path taken by a data packet across the network prior to reaching the destination.
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