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DirtyLarry

VPN (Or Maybe Not?) For About 15 Users

30 posts in this topic

My brother in law just called me, and was asking what is the best way to set up a cloud for his company?

When I asked for more details, he basically said anywhere from 10-15 people in his company would need to have access to servers from any location that would be storing large Auto CAD files that people could work on from wherever they were.

Security is obviously a main concern.

 

His company is willing to hire a third party to set it all up, so I am just wondering, what exactly should he be asking for?

Does he want a VPN? Or a cloud? Or Remote Desktop?

Is this something that could potentially be setup on their own? Or would hiring a company be the best route to take?

 

I know I may be using the completely wrong terminology for what they are looking for, that is why I am here posting and asking.

 

Any and all help and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

 

TIA

DL

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Would they be using windows or mac or linux or other?

If mainly mac and/or linux you could do that using a simple SSH server/client setup and SOCKS5 proxy and SSH for filestore or NFS.

If windows then you could also do that but you'd need third party CYGWIN software.

 

Actually in windows you can use routing and remote access (on windows server editions) and then have all the windows PCs 'dail in' over the net and you access the web/internet as in you were networked to the server in a local LAN, and use shared folders, etc. That's fine for 15 users I think? You might need some CALs though.

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Cloud will be ideal here. Lots of solutions out there for file collaboration. Transferring large files will be pain over RDP or VPN. A file sharing solution will allow for local synchronization taking away the pain.

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"access to servers from any location that would be storing large Auto CAD files that people could work on from wherever they were."

So servers currently store these files at his location? And he wants to allow access to these files.. How large are the files? And how fat his the pipe to the connection where the files are currently stored.

If the above is the case and the files are not GBs in size and his pipe is big enough, then sure VPN would be one way to allow users into the network to access files off a server.

You could also just setup ftp access to them, or share them via a website for users to upload and download.

Other question I assume these users are company users with their laptops that have autocad installed? Why don't they just have a local copy of the files on their laptop in the first place?

But sure if he wanted a cloud - you could use something like dropbox team which would allow as many uses as need to have access to the files that are stored on the cloud with local copies on their machines. Changes that were made to the files would be sent back to the cloud and all users would then have the new updated copy.

I would get some more details of exactly what he is envisions, can he walk you through what he thinks this remote user would do to access the file, etc.

You could also setup citrix, or remote desktop to computers or virtual machines on your network that have access to the files and autocad installed to work on the files remotely that way, etc.

Quite possible he heard the word "cloud" and wants to jump on the band wagon without clue one to what that really means, etc. ;)

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Would they be using windows or mac or linux or other?

If mainly mac and/or linux you could do that using a simple SSH server/client setup and SOCKS5 proxy and SSH for filestore or NFS.

If windows then you could also do that but you'd need third party CYGWIN software.

 

Actually in windows you can use routing and remote access (on windows server editions) and then have all the windows PCs 'dail in' over the net and you access the web/internet as in you were networked to the server in a local LAN, and use shared folders, etc. That's fine for 15 users I think? You might need some CALs though.

Sorry I should have known to post the OS. They are a Windows environment currently and would definitely prefer to keep it that way.

 

Can you explain what a CALs And CYGWIN? is?

 

Cloud will be ideal here. Lots of solutions out there for file collaboration. Transferring large files will be pain over RDP or VPN. A file sharing solution will allow for local synchronization taking away the pain.

Yeah I was thinking the file sizes could be an issue. These files definitely get over 1GB pretty fast according to him.

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I actually do this for a living and I know autocad files are pain that's why I went to the cloud option straight away :D

If the company uses windows and has windows servers you could install sharepoint foundation and sync copies of the files locally over the internet using skydrive pro. Windows/IIS has an upload limit of 2GB though.

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CALs are Client Access Licenses, i.e. you're allowed a certain number of clients and if you want more you have to purchase additional licenses.

CYGWIN is a sorta way to run linux-like programs on windows.

I'd go with another option other than SSH if you're using windows.

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Would OwnCloud work? It has business support available and is supported by a growing number of hosting companies. There are also management options available from the web user interface, which is probably a huge advantage if less technical people will be managing it. OwnCloud will probably work fairly similarly to Dropbox for business, like BudMan suggested, except unlike Dropbox it will require your brother-in-law's company to seek their own hosting provider. The advantage to OwnCloud is that the company has complete control over their software and their data.

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"access to servers from any location that would be storing large Auto CAD files that people could work on from wherever they were."

So servers currently store these files at his location? And he wants to allow access to these files.. How large are the files? And how fat his the pipe to the connection where the files are currently stored.

If the above is the case and the files are not GBs in size and his pipe is big enough, then sure VPN would be one way to allow users into the network to access files off a server.

You could also just setup ftp access to them, or share them via a website for users to upload and download.

Other question I assume these users are company users with their laptops that have autocad installed? Why don't they just have a local copy of the files on their laptop in the first place?

But sure if he wanted a cloud - you could use something like dropbox team which would allow as many uses as need to have access to the files that are stored on the cloud with local copies on their machines. Changes that were made to the files would be sent back to the cloud and all users would then have the new updated copy.

I would get some more details of exactly what he is envisions, can he walk you through what he thinks this remote user would do to access the file, etc.

You could also setup citrix, or remote desktop to computers or virtual machines on your network that have access to the files and autocad installed to work on the files remotely that way, etc.

Quite possible he heard the word "cloud" and wants to jump on the band wagon without clue one to what that really means, etc. ;)

:laugh: Apparently someone higher up said they wanted a cloud setup is how this all started.

 

So to answer what I know...

 

They have a T1.

 

I just called him to get the details, and they do have a local network setup. So they do have loca servers.

 

So the big need is different people may be at different locations but need to have access to the same file. And all those people could also be making changes to it, etc from a remote location. I explained there then may be an issue with versioning, files being locked out, etc., so that sounds like a potential issue. But it sounds like a matter of the files should be easily accessed by all as if they were on a LAN but from any location in our state. Who knows, perhaps across the whole US as well if they travel, but it sounds like it would mainly be a matter of they would be all over the state of New Jersey. 

 

Also sounds like they want to implement some kind of backup system as well so there are backups of files just in case.

 

So they already have some kind of local servers set up. They have a T1. They want people to be able to access files remotely. So sounds like it would be a VPN type situation?

 

To give just a little more back story, this is not a company that has been dealing with technology long at all. It is an Electricians Union, and they are just getting into implementing the use of Auto Cad on their jobs. Something that is very new. So whatever they do have currently setup is more than likely as simply as it needs to be to get the job done.

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I have a client that works in a mixed environment (windows and osx); 3D design it's their game and CAD files are their Aquilles tendon, since they access them via VPN :o ; it's insane since those files can get very big pretty fast.

 

So in their case we showed them some solutions based in file collaboration / teaming; dropbox for enterprise, skydrive pro / sharepoint online are possible solutions as well and can be cheaper on the short run, depending the needs the enterprise has (versioning, for example).

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Probably the best would be either remote desktop or citrix, depeding on the type of cad and how heavily reliant it is on the graphics processor.  I would not recommend 3d with this type of application. 

 

But large files you will want to use either a dropbox/skydrive type of solution or you will want to remote into a server that is local there like a citrix or a terminal server. 

 

T1 definatly not anything cloud related, it will take a year and a day to get those files up there then when you need to retrieve them on site will take another year and a day.

 

VPN and 1GB+ files being transfered will also take forever, not recommended with a T1. 

 

IMO with the infrastructure technology they have, they should look into a terminal server or citrix type of solution. 

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Would OwnCloud work? It has business support available and is supported by a growing number of hosting companies. There are also management options available from the web user interface, which is probably a huge advantage if less technical people will be managing it. OwnCloud will probably work fairly similarly to Dropbox for business, like BudMan suggested, except unlike Dropbox it will require your brother-in-law's company to seek their own hosting provider. The advantage to OwnCloud is that the company has complete control over their software and their data.

Hmmm, this could potentially be an option no? But I think the additional details I just posted may change things up. Sounds like they already have some kind of servers on site. Question is how good are they, etc. I am leaning towards they are just enough to do what needs to be done and not much else.

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Larry, no....if it deals with transferring 50+megabyte files over the T1, I would not suggest anything as a solution.

 

They can setup a free dropbox or skydrive site just to see how unusable it is.  VPN will be no better.

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Cloud is best solution for CAD files with normal connection or slower.. Unless you guys have fastest connection such as T1 connection or higher, if so, you can setup in any way you want such as file transfer, Remote desktop, etc.

 

I miss those days that I used T1 connection at work... it was fast... wow. Then I went home, I used dialup .. I went nuts because it was BIG difference.. lol

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So they already have some kind of local servers set up. They have a T1. They want people to be able to access files remotely. So sounds like it would be a VPN type situation?

 

Budman is not gonna like this but...VPN is so 2000 :rofl:

 

now seriously, VPN has great advantages but for accessing large files it can be very painful. Also DirectAccess (VPN newer brother) resolves some problems but creates others; again for sharing large files, IMHO it isn't well suited.

 

Also one can work in the cloud; accessing the CAD software via Citrix or RDP Gateway and the files as well, having the software and the files in a SaaS solution. Again it can be very good when properly implemented but for 3D stuff like the Citrix client and the MS RDP client still has some woes; again i would not recomend because the experience could be very good when the Internet access is good or very poor vice-versa.

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Cloud is best solution for CAD files with normal connection or slower.. Unless you guys have fastest connection such as T1 connection or higher, if so, you can setup in any way you want such as file transfer, Remote desktop, etc.

 

I miss those days that I used T1 connection at work... it was fast... wow. Then I went home, I used dialup .. I went nuts because it was BIG difference.. lol

T1=1.5Mb/s....even the slowest DSL is 3Mb/s in the states.  Cable starts at 10Mb/s and goes up.  T1 isn't what it used to be.

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Larry, no....if it deals with transferring 50+megabyte files over the T1, I would not suggest anything as a solution.

 

They can setup a free dropbox or skydrive site just to see how unusable it is.  VPN will be no better.

 

yeah i agree as well, a T1 for multiple small files is enough but for large ones like a CAD project can have it's a no no.

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Since DWG and DXF are binary formats, I'm not sure how much they change with small revisions in AutoCAD or SolidWorks. If the file does not end up completely different each time, however, the differential sync employed by Dropbox or OwnCloud would take some of the strain off of the Internet connection. Additionally they both store the files on the user's computer and on the server, so the bandwidth usage should be significantly less once the files have been synced the first time. Obviously this has no bearing on the conversation if the files vary greatly even with seemingly small changes. You would need test that assumption.

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What you will need to gather up in advance is:

  • Average file size
  • Your expected file growth in the next 2 years
  • What devices will be used to access files
  • Your budget
  • Existing servers/licenses

Then you will be able to make a proper decision. You mentioned they wanted to setup a cloud, did you mean something on-premise?

Also, SharePoint provides a shredded storage feature which is able to upload only the differences in a file rather than the entire file every time, reducing network utilization.

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T1=1.5Mb/s....even the slowest DSL is 3Mb/s in the states.  Cable starts at 10Mb/s and goes up.  T1 isn't what it used to be.

 

I said T1 or higher...  which business line is best choice that is lot faster than residential line.

 

Business line for today's is 15x15 mbps for $1099/mth. If want faster connection (such as up to 45mbps) contact provider for that.

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Business cable is far less and far greater speed. I priced other solutions and speed and it didn't make sense money wise. I can count on less than 1 finger how many times we have been down in the past 3 years due to ISP issue. Power on the other hand is a bit of a problem, big ups only lasts a few hours powering the noc.

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Thanks for the replies everyone, I am Larry's brother in law.  Now I know I need some more information, but I am looking for ideas in order to start heading in the right direction.  We are an electrical contractor and work a lot with Autocad and now Revit.  Our AutoCAD files can grow extremely large when we are the head coordinator for the BIM (Building Information Modeling) with some of the data centers that we do.  Also, now with the use of Revit where the files can grow over 1GB for the whole project.  Revit uses a host file that will be located on a local server at the "shop" but would need to be accessed while we are drawing out in the field.  The problem is a cloud through Autodesk would be perfect for our goals, but since the higher ups do not want to use a cloud due to security reasons.  I am wondering if we could setup a cloud using our existing servers.  Also the guy that told me that we have a T1 connection is some what unreliable.  They have about 50 people working in the office with a server room and network.  We would only need 10-15 people to access when we are out in the field to be able to work on drawings then upload back to the server.  I understand that sometimes it will not be fun trying to download on a 3G connection or upload, but that is only temporary until the site gets "hooked" up.  I am not a networking guru at all, just an electrician.  This is what I can give you for now, and I really appreciate the help.

 

Thanks

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Sounds like a good fit for Citrix XenApp and Sharefile (corporate drop-box like solution) if the users need the files locally for some reason. All of this could be done on-site in your own private cloud. Basically you'd be keeping all your files and data in the data center and just have the users coming in through the internet connections over 443 reverse proxy to Citrix XenApp.

 

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I think the better solution for your scenario (If supported I've never used AutoCAD / Revit over a iCA/RDP session and not sure on the licensing implications) would be to have a few servers in the office that users can remote into, (or VDI or Physical Desktop sessions) and access the files there instead of uploading and downloading 1GB+ files over the network all the time. This way none of the data needs to reside on users laptops and is safe at your main site.

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You need to understand that the T1 is going to be your absolute bottle neck.  You can create a cloud with your internal, possibly with the servers you may have but I would strongly suggest having a dedicated server or even a small server farm. 

 

What I would do in your case is setup a vpn for a couple of people to have access to, setup a server with autocad on it, then have them connect to it through the vpn to see if it would be feasible to do this.  Depending on the firewall, it may already be built in.  If it is a cisco (not a linksys by cisco) firewall it will have the ability for vpn built in. 

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