Setting up a LAN


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I have come across several posts in the newsgroups asking about structured cabling and how to setup offices. So I have decided to setup a page on this.

Structured Cabling Basics
Setting up an office.






Structured Cabling Basics

Under construction

Setting up an Office.

This is a guide on how to setup a LAN for a new office.  This is a list of people that you will be interfacing with.

Internal Project manager
Key users from each department.
Owner of meeting / training rooms, laboratories and pantries.

You will need the following from them.

  1. Location of the server room.  Preferably near the center of the whole office. But often you don't get to choose.

  2. 80% confirmed layout. This will continuously change, right up to moving day.  So work with the best you can get and cater for plenty of spare.

  3. Roles and responsibilities of the electrical and cabling contractor. Depending on the country you are in, the electrical contractor nowadays frequently installs the cable trays, conduits and trunking to the user stations.

  4. List of seating locations. Which department seats where.  Where the users will actually seat will probably be finalised only on moving day.  So concentrate on the secretaries.  The precise location, let the users sort it out.  I use the rule of thumb, 2 LAN and 2 phone pts for secretaries.  Users 1 each.

  5. List of LAN point locations for the meeting / training rooms and Laboratories. These rooms frequently have several owners or none at all.  Make sure you gather all the inputs and arrive at an acceptable solution.

  6. Cabling runs.  Plan to do the cabling for all points using structured cabling.  At this time of writing, the standard is CAT 5E.  If you are fortunate enough to be doing a campus network, plan on your inter-floor fibre runs and network distribution rooms carefully.  These rooms or closets, are for groups of users that are too far away to be directly connected to the server room. Remember to check the fire code.

    Factor in network growth due to changing business needs.  This is the part where some judgement call may be needed.  Remember, that new business strategy may never take off.  So don't over spend.

  7. Switches

Once you have all the LAN points and phone accounted for, start planning on the size of the switches. There should be a switch (distribution) for each floor. It will then be connected back to the network center's switch (core) via fibre or less commonly copper. Remember to factor in the size of the racks.  Decide on how you are going to grow the switches. Note chassis switches are easier to integrate than stackable units.

The ports on each switch should never be fully used. There should be 50 to 25% free ports, budget depending. If any of the switches were to fail, pull out the patch cords, patch into the free ports and check VLAN config.

8.    Servers

Next decide on where you are going to put the servers, racked or under the table.

9.    Server room

With all the blocks sized, decide on the layout of the room. Frequently security guidelines require a solid four wall office.  Plan to put the network rack near a solid wall or pillar.  The masses of cables coming down from the ceiling will tear apart any partition wall.

Decide on where you want to put your telco box. This is where the phone cables from you telco comes in. Depending on your setup, it can be a simple 50 pair cable to the riser just outside your office. If you have own building, the telco box is the Main Distribution Frame (MDF) room. This should be located near your CAT 5 patch panel so that you can patch phone lines any where in the company.


completed 19 Jan 01
updated 16 Mar 03

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