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Old Jun 10, 2008, 01:05 AM   #1
mgrant1
macrumors newbie
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Small bizz, expanding office, networking help!

Hello all,

We're a small trade company who's been in the market for quite some time. We're doing well. The down side: We're very shabby. 3 Windows running computers and only word and excel in effect. Things MUST change.

I'm the son of the owner. My specialty is learning programs and implementing processes. I've been working on Macs for years, but never have networked a group of mac computers (not beyond wireless networking). I need help now, the time has come for change.

I've read and researched to see what would the ideal set up be for our business. We'll be operating from 2 offices in different cities. We plan to purchase all new macs running Leopard. My ideal set up is to:

-Create a network at both offices
-Share files between computers within each office
-Share files between the two office networks
-Create remote, VNC-like access to both networks (in case I need to tap-in and trouble shoot while on the road... perhaps this is also the way we should exchange files between offices?)
-Allow for files to be saved in a central place at both network locations. Does this call for a server?

Some of the services I'm interested in performing are:
-Syncing contacts, calendars and todo's across computers in both locations
-Sharing databases, or keeping databases in sync between both locations

That said, I'm imagining a network of 3-4 apple computers per office and a few apple laptops. Here comes the biggest question:

Of my network options, what would be the best set-up?
I'm familiar with wireless networks (I set that up in our house). But is this ideal for computers that are purposed to work together rather than the occasional share of a file or two?

Should I go the ethernet cable route? I've set this sort of thing up in a PC network (it was hell), but do I want to do this in my new work environment? Is leopard server the way to go?

Programs I'm looking at running are:
Adobe CS3
FileMaker Pro
Quicken
.Mac (or I guess MobilMe?
Other softwares for tracking inventory, invoicing, quoting, billing and scheduling

Can Leopard's Time Machine backup to PC's? Is it wise to use older PC's as storage or servers (they are about two-3 yrs weak... 1 Gb RAM, 80 GB Hard Drives, etc.). Is leopard sever the way to go? How about a Mini at both offices or a MacPro?

Budget is not a problem, but I want to see to it we can expand with no problems. I want to make sure I can keep track of our configurations and maintain our systems, so I'll play the IT roll (with help). I read that Leopard server is dead-simple in configuring client computers. Wonder if its that easy for a novice like myself?

Any recommendations on business productivity programs and power tips are welcome. Please help an ambitious young man who is not afraid to learn. Please don't assume I know too much either. I thanks any and everyone for the help.

-Aspiring IT guy

I wrote a lot so there wouldn't be too many questions of what I'm looking to create.
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Old Jun 10, 2008, 06:50 AM   #2
Moof1904
macrumors 6502a
 
Join Date: May 2004
Consider Daylite

My small company uses Daylite for group scheduling, contact management, to-do, and sales opportunity tracking. It's a fantastic multi-user OSX program that works online and offline, useful for those folks with laptops who are traveling. The offline user can sync before leaving, work in the database while on the road and re-sync upon returning. Offline users don't need a dedicated license, thus reducing cost.

There's nothing wrong, in my opinion, with a mix of wired and wireless devices. If you've got the ability to route ethernet for stationary devices, you'll get better performance. If you've got out of the way devices that need to be wireless, that will work, too. Just make sure you use decent wireless encryption and access control. If you're familiar with wireless, you already know all that. In my small business we have a mix of wired and wireless, all through an airport extreme base station running wireless N.

I don't think that TimeMachine can back up to a PC volume. Probably better to use dedicated mac volumes for TM.

For a server, we're running a Tiger server (OSX Tiger bought for very cheap now that Leopard is out) and basically just run the file server on it. We don't run mail or internet services on the server because they're not really necessary for us. We just run mail and all that through our ISP as though we didn't have a server. For us, we really only need a server for file sharing in a group environment. Leopard server may be better, but for $200 and a cheap mac (a broken Ti laptop with a dead screen), we couldn't have set up a cheaper, easier to use server.
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