Planning Your Proxy Server Implementation

Planning Your Proxy Server Implementation Matchmaker.com: Sign up now for a free trial. Date Smarter! Planning Your Proxy Server Implementation A key factor in determining the success of any installation is planning. Planning involves several phases-from understanding your current capabilities, to determining your current needs, anticipating your future needs, and, ultimately, finding a viable solution. We have all been in situations where the immediate need surpassed the need for planning and the installation was rushed. More often than not, the installation had to be repeated to correct problems. Microsoft stresses successful planning techniques, both to ease the initial installation and as a preventative troubleshooting task.

The Site Analysis Process A key consideration of planning future network capacity is determining what services, users, and data will be present on the network. Take the time to complete a thorough site analysis. A bit of formal analysis now will ease the process of upgrading and configuring the system later. Don’t succumb to the “easy way out.” Planning can be a long and arduous task that is overlooked far too often, but one that pays off ultimately. Network Capacity Analysis The capacity of a network is that network’s ability to support the amount of data transmitted over it.

A network that can support the activity of your organization today may not be able to support the increased activity level when Internet access is offered via Proxy Server. You need to carefully consider the performance ramifications of adding new information services to an already overtaxed network. Although Proxy Server’s ability to cache resources saves on performance over the Internet communication link, it does not decrease the amount of data ultimately transferred to the client. Even if 100 percent of requested data is stored in the proxy server’s cache, it will still be sent across your local network to the client computer, increasing network traffic significantly. The first step in network capacity analysis is to define a baseline profile of the performance levels of your current network by using Performance Monitor and Network Monitor. This involves sampling various aspects of your network over several days.

Examine these readings to decipher what is normal and abnormal about how your network performs. This includes pinpointing which areas of your network experience the heaviest load, which users or applications cause the most traffic, and if there are failure points (for example, broken cables, bad connectors, failed links, or misconfigured protocols). Compare the actual traffic and performance levels on your network with the known capacity of the hardware that composes your network. For example, if you’re using 10Mbps NICs and hubs on your network and the average network load is around 7 or 8Mbps, you have little room for additional traffic. A network consistently operating at 70 percent of available capacity would experience severe performance degradation if Internet information services were added to the existing system.

As mentioned earlier, adding one or more Internet services to your current network will increase network traffic levels significantly. Often, adding Internet services requires an increase in the capacity of your network. Some considerations involved in expanding the capacity of your network include the following: a The number and type of services provided by the proxy server a The number of users accessing those services a The restrictions that will be implemented (particular users or groups, time of day, or amount of data) a The number of users that may be added in the next year Needs Analysis Determining your current needs involves making a list of services and features required on your network to improve or expand its current capabilities. This list can range from information services, to security restrictions, to content sources. To help you focus on this process, the following questions related to this process have been included.

The needs analysis questions are divided into three categories: a Why do you need Internet access? a Connectivity What hardware do you have? Does it need to be up-graded? a Security What type of access will you allow through Proxy Server? Why Grant Internet Access? If you’ve come to this section of the book, you’ve probably already decided to connect to the Internet using Microsoft Proxy Server. However, the following are some questions to help you justify this implementation: a What are the top three reasons you need to add Internet access to your network? a How will your products and/or services be improved with Internet access? a Is Internet access just today’s latest business fad or does it really offer solid, tangible benefits? a What exactly are you expecting to happen once Internet access is added to your system? a What capabilities and services are you expecting to deploy or derive from Internet access? a Will the majority of information flow out from your network or in from the Internet? Connectivity Concerns As mentioned earlier, the specifics of how to connect, and whether your network can handle the traffic generated by connecting, to the Internet must be addressed. Answers to the following questions will grant you insight into this area: a What network or communications technologies have recently been deployed within your organization? a Ultimately, who is responsible for the deployment of Internet access on your network? a Are improvements to the network properly funded? Are they included in the budget? a Which is more important-service, reliability, or speed of access? a What compromises are you willing to make to sustain reliability over speed (or vice versa)? a To improve your network’s performance, what services or capabilities are you willing to sacrifice? a If your Internet access links go down, what projects, tasks, or abilities will be affected? a Is your current network media (NIC, hubs, repeaters, cables, and so on) upgradeable, expandable, or replaceable? a Do you need a dedicated or on-demand Internet connection? Security Perhaps the most important set of questions involves security and how information will be guarded on your network: a Which Internet information services will be supported, allowed, or deployed? a Which capabilities and services will you prevent or deny in relation to Internet access? a If full open access is not granted, what restrictions will be in place and who will determine them? a What content filters will be put into place? Who is responsible for implementation and maintenance of these filters? a What penalties will be enforced against users who violate (or attempt to violate) access restrictions? a Have you documented the logic used to construct or describe your security or restriction system? a What restrictions on “outsiders” do you plan to implement? a How important is it to restrict or control access to your internal information? a What does your organization consider a security breach? From these lists of questions, you can formulate a clear picture of your present situation and what you want, need, or can afford in terms of Internet access. This knowledge is an important step in the process of deploying any new technology, including Proxy Server 2.0. Connecting With An Internet Service Provider Connecting your network to the Internet involves working with an Internet Service Provider (ISP).

As you know, ISPs are service companies that sell network access to the Internet. They purchase bandwidth in bulk and, in turn, resell it in smaller packages. You should evaluate an ISP in the same manner as you would any other supplier or vendor. Types Of ISPs There are three basic types of ISPs: global/national corporations, small local businesses, and hobbyists/amateurs. Global/national corporations ISPs are those ISPs that have points of presence across the country, or even around the world. Typically, you’ll not deal with ISPs of this level directly because they are most often in the business of wholesaling access to local business ISPs instead of end users.

However, if your organization is of significant size, this type of ISP may be the only one that can adequately supply your connection needs. The cost for service from these large ISPs is often high, with little or no room for negotiation. In addition, although technical support may be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, your specific issue or problem may not be as important to them as it is to you. The small local business ISPs generally have one or only a few points of presence. Local ISPs are often more responsive to customer needs and can be flexible on service costs. The scope and value of services provided by a local ISP vary greatly, but with a little time and you can find a provider to meet your needs.

A hobbyist or an amateur access provider is often a small or upstart business. Most ISPs of this nature offer little in the way of value-added services, have limited bandwidth choices, and have unreliable service. We do not recommend using an amateur ISP for business Internet access. Locating An ISP Finding the right ISP for your organization involves some work on your part. Mainly, it requires you to seek out possible ISPs, interview them, and then make an informed decision. You should be looking for a quality provider that is currently supporting professional or business customers.

There are several ways to locate or discover ISPs initially; but just because an ISP is easy to find doesn’t mean its service is acceptable. We suggest you make a list of four or five ISPs, then evaluate them in light of the specific criteria discussed throughout this chapter. Listed here are a few methods for finding an ISP: a Word of mouth Ask friends or colleagues for references to ISPs with which they have had experience. Because a relationship with an ISP is typically very important, most customers will not hesitate in letting you know what they think about the service they are paying for. a Newspaper and magazine advertisements Print advertisements are common methods of obtaining attention by ISPs.

Check business and technology sections in your local newspaper to see who wants your business. a Businesses/competition Ask other business owners, or even your competitors, who they use for their Internet service. a Vendors Ask your hardware and software vendor/supplier/retailer for recommendations for ISPs. It’s not uncommon for technical salespeople to be aware of related products and services available locally. a Yellow pages The phone book is now a great place to look for ISPs.

Check out the entries under the headings of Internet, Computers, Computer Services, Network, Access Providers, or Online Access. a Radio and television Many well-to-do ISPs are spending the money to advertise on radio and television. However, just because an ISP can afford the expense doesn’t mean it should be your only choice. It does mean, however, that the ISP is making a profit, which is a good sign. a Search engines All of the Web-based search engines can provide you with an extensive list of ISP possibilities.

Just search with the keywords “Internet Providers,” “Internet Service Providers,” and “Internet Access Providers.” a www.thelist.com This Web site is a comprehensive database of ISPs. This well-organized collection of ISP information is worth taking a look at. a Dlist This is another online resource worth looking into. Dlist or “Definitive listing of ISPs” is an email distribution of ISP information. To get the Dlist, just send an email to .

In the body of the message, include “request dlist.” Within minutes, you’ll receive an automated response that contains the list. Test Your ISP Once you’ve made a short list of ISP possibilities, run the list through the following gambit of tests. Switching from one provider to another is not impossible, but the switch can be fairly difficult and confusing. We recommend you take the time to ensure that everything you need in the foreseeable future is provided for with the ISP you select. Technical Support Your ISP should be able to provide you with technical support, advice, and consultation. Find out what technical support assets are available from an ISP, including any technical certification or education, length of experience, and troubleshooting success histor …