Capstone Project Essay
The use of network services is increasing the management amount of copper and fiber cabling. This results in an ever increasing workload that must be maintained or reconfigured; resulting in challenges to organizational profitability. One of the challenges that arises is how does an administrator maintain a complex work environment when increased profits, fewer capital and operating resources are limited. One might suggest growing a complex network infrastructure requires operation efficiency with a desire to manage and protect cables without interrupting the workflow for clients. However, given the challenges affecting wireless service providers; maintaining focus and quality are just the fundamentals.
The administrator is limited to the organizations profitability and cost variance when determining the best approach. These factors play a role which will likely affect the infrastructure as a whole. It is interesting enough to point out that towards the perspective of a network administrator; an issue should remain dormant and should never happen when the proper implications are set in place. However, because we live in an intractable world the possibility for a scenario is plausible.
Capstone Proposal Summary
As a volunteer for a network security survey for Aon Corp; the following survey was designed to point out vulnerabilities within the organizational network servers specifically under the surety office location where class mates using workstations were experiencing frustrating issues pertaining to network instability. The survey was intended to identify on whether security implications were required so that an upgrade request may be delivered. A staff meeting was set in place where we interviewed the client regarding their needs. It is always a good choice to understand the fundamental needs of the client prior to making any changes to the network. After spending several hours brainstorming the client’s demands a solution has been reached. The project setting has been laid out clearly. During my timeframe interviewing the client I have gained the necessary background knowledge to understand my client’s visions building a strong mutual connection.
Understanding this connection has entitled me to diagnose the network accordingly. As a part of the survey Aon Corp has several requirements prior to jumping into the project. First it was mandatory to inspect the minimum system requirements of the client machines. In the past latency issues have derived primarily to out of date hardware or device drivers as opposed to a security breach. It is always a wise choice to update these configurations while running the appropriate operating system updates which may all be contributing factors. During the prerequisite stage of the survey the required information is gathered to develop an effective network survey which would alleviate resource constraint.
Rational & Systems Analysis
It is always a wise choice to research similar case studies that may provide beneficial information relating to similar scenarios. I have done as such building my understanding of these scenarios which has a given me some background to my clients concerns. Several user friendly applications have offered me assistance analyzing security loop holes. They are the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS). With accordance to the Microsoft website; the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer is a user friendly tool emphasized for technicians with a focus on assisting medium sized businesses. The tool focuses on the security state of the network with accordance to Microsoft recommendations providing guidelines and support.
The user may download Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) from Microsoft.com as it is a well-known tool for all IT technicians. Once the tool has been successfully installed the administrator has the ability to scan multiple end users on the local network median. Upon completion of the scan the user is delivered a report highlighting potential threats along with missing updates. Some of these updates may include missing application patches, operations system updates, and advised the user on whether a Windows firewall is running. MBSA has the ability to examine administrative accounts along with password policies. See Figure A for example.
As technology advances, administrative technicians need to adjust to the challenges ahead. Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer is a great tool to maintain the integrity of your network infrastructure. Scott Lowe (2004), a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, said the following regarding the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer: “Supporting a huge number of Microsoft applications, MBSA can serve you in two ways. First, it will help you keep your servers protected from problems; second, with powerful reporting capabilities, it can help you actually learn why you need to do the things that are suggested so you can make an educated decision as to whether something is an acceptable risk in your environment.”
Project Goals and Objectives
The objective towards the following project was to initiate a plan to upgrade Aon Corp network infrastructure alleviating latency issues better improving the efficiency and flow of data across the network median. A current unstable network prolonged business growth capacity making it difficult for end users to utilize resources effectively. Without the essential resources company growth was at a bottleneck. Breaking down the goals and objectives for the following project was essential in providing a remedy to the issue, they are as follows: Client must receive a current system image snapshot
-Survey of a workstation must be documented
-Survey of a server must be documented
-Microsoft Baseline Security tool must be run saving each workstation along with the server A scheduled protocol plan must be provided articulating details for the client on overall performance and network stability. Client must be advised of a detailed schematic for preventative measures along with upkeep Client must be given an instructional manual for managing updates related to the operating system and antivirus software Client must be given an estimate on productivity along with return of investment
In order to present the deliverables to the client; a solid fundamental understanding of the clients requirements must be developed. Acquiring a background understanding is essential in order to understand the business process and what the client wants to achieve out of their network infrastructure. Without understanding the big picture the project would certainly fail.
The goal and objective here was to initiate a meeting with the client to discuss the business orientation and the process relations to their workstations. The clients company being a training institution; certain software was required in order for the firm to achieve their business goals. The applications required minimum system specs in order to run efficiently. During the preliminary phase of the meeting the business model and goals were discussed. Operational hours were taken into consideration as a set schedule was established for performing the survey. As the meeting came to an end a survey schematic was brought to the client’s attention in order to calculate return on investment upon project completion (refer to Appendix 2). The success of the meeting was met and the first objective was complete.
Upon the completion of the survey the client was provided with an executable plan laying out the details of the upgrade and preventative measures. However, the full execution will be help outside the Capstone; it will be the key highlight to the success of the business goals.
Network Security Survey
As a prerequisite to the survey several spreadsheets having been compiled for capturing images of data (refer to Appendix 3 along with Appendix 4). The first document entitles end user computers and second focuses on servers. As for the MBSA scans for each workstation; a thumb drive was used to save the results. Prior to beginning the survey an update was brought to my attention from the client that others may be working on these end-user machines as well. Because of my failure to follow through during the phone meeting advising of the time schedule, I needed to contact the other administrators advising them of my presence. Fortunately, as I arrived at the designated project site there were many computers to survey. I began to survey the end-user machines not being surveyed. About 3 minutes elapsed for each workstation to survey; running Microsoft Baseline Security (MBSA) took about 11 minutes.
Unfortunately, I have missed my goal of reaching the estimated number of computers being surveys as discussed in the preliminary meeting. The survey elapsed more time than I have predicted. On the other hand it was pleasant to know that the other administrators finished their portion of the project just in time before I got to them. Surveying the workstations went according to schedule, however, as I approached the servers several problems aroused. The list of passwords the client provided did not contain the correct characters as I attempted to log into the domain controller.
The owner has left the building and was unable to achieve my goal with surveying the servers as planned thus leaving my network security survey incomplete. The following day the owner has been contacted and a scheduled return visit was planned. As the domain controller was surveyed; the security network part of the survey has been successfully completed. Despite the minor issues the survey went flawless; I would have followed through with the client more efficiently if the same scenario would have repeated itself. The desired goal has been achieved and a data image has been captured so the proposal upgrade can be finalized.
Proposal Upgrade Preparation
The upgrade proposal was designed to contain the following suggestions. Configuration of the Domain controller
Configuration of the server
Configuration of the workstation
Suggestions for Malware/Antivirus
Report for ROI
Security guide for the end-user
Timeline of Upgrade
As assumptions defining the network configuration have been made. Unknowingly an assumption was made that the domain controller is established as the default gateway, DNS and DHCP server. I came to understand that their infrastructure was split into four subnets. ISA server was in between the ISP acting as NAT, DNS, DHCP, and RRAS server. Logically understanding that their domain controller was their default gateway, DHCP, and DNS server; the services were contained on the internal network. Failing to understand the possibility of a network perimeter my assumptions were incorrect. Eventually I was able to complete each task item provided above; a presentation with the client would finalize this portion of the project. The task was completed, however, not within the desired timeframe.
As the completion of the proposal has been achieved a client meeting has been scheduled. The agenda of the meeting is as follows:
1. Discussing survey results (network state)
2. Hardware discussion / software suggestions
3. Projected ROI and cost
5. Schedule implementation
Despite the presentation lasting 2 hours it was a success. Proper planning along with a satisfying network survey were the predecessors leading to this success. The network survey went very smooth and efficient. The proposal was straight to the point and meaningful for the client. As the following goal completed and the deliverables presented to the client project completion has been achieved. Due to the clients satisfactions with the deliverables the project has moved forward to the next portion of the upgrade phase.
The timeline of the project was compiled using a Gantt chart from the software Microsoft Office Project 2012. The project plan along with the details are listed in Figure B.
As indicated in Figure B, the project time frame was expected to take 238 days. Several areas took time constraint. First the network survey as previously indicated where I failed to follow through with the client after the preliminary phase of the meeting. This resulted in the client scheduling students on campus on the same timeframe as the survey. Fortunately, there were enough end-user computers to perform the survey. In time the remainder of the students have left the building freeing up those workstations as well.
Forgetting to get a confirmation of the amount of workstations at the preliminary meeting indivertibly resulted in my underestimation of the amount of time it would take to survey the total amount of workstations. The client password list for the domain controllers portrayed to be the only problem I have run into when performing the survey resulting in a setback. Because I have forgotten to request the following information from the client; the survey was setback from the estimated time for completion; resulting in a day setback.
Compiling the proposal was another task that was miscalculated. Fortunately, I was able to finalize the project in one day thus keeping the project within the constraints of the timeline. Client satisfaction was the ultimate goal as they were very grateful. It is expected that situations as such will not always go accordingly to plan; however, without the clients support the project would not have gone as smooth. Planning a larger margin while taking a less aggressive attitude at the preliminary meeting would have avoided such issues.
During the preliminary development of the following project, Aon Corps network infrastructure was heading in an unknown direction pertaining to its economic success. Instabilities in their security policy, workstations were exponentially getting slower each day. Students along with testers were losing hope in the integrity of the company. Their mindset was affecting performance along with business profit opportunities. The project I was assigned to revolve around building a business by updating their network infrastructure to a level of efficiency. The concentration of the project focused on performing an upgrade solution that would provide this efficiency to the client. Original snapshots of the network were based in the upgrade proposal plan which was used to optimize the network.
The optimal goal of the project was to implement a network infrastructure that would be secure. Just like all problems issues aroused during the progression of the project. Students were scheduled to be in the building at the time of the survey; a work around was developed as I was able to hinder another classroom. Upon completion of the workstations I was able to come back to the student’s classroom which was cleared. Rearranging the order of the computers that have been surveyed the issue was concealed. Another situation that derived during development happened when I discovered that the client has given me the incorrect domain controller password list which did not contain the server administrative passwords. The lack of the following information would have definitely resulted in the project failing.
Rescheduling the visit with the owner has alleviated this scenario. Unfortunately, because of the rescheduling the timeline has been pushed back preventing me from completing the project within the completion period. Anticipating that the network domain controller would be a configured as a default gateway. Assumptions were proven wrong and the configuration process to longer than expected. Due to an ISA server on the network perimeter changes to the configurations proposal had to be made. Creating an ROI report was another unanticipated event that was requested upon the client. Determining the monetary cost was difficult when comparing the proposed and current network conditions. Consequently, changes had to be made to the customer question business survey to assist me in these calculations. Gracefully, the client was able to agree upon these terms.
Actual and Potential Effects
Majority of the following section will focus on potential effects due to the project being a proposal. The project effects can be conceived by indicating that the client had a clear perspective towards the network infrastructure and how in its previous state it has manipulated business continuity. The client experienced the previous state and was provided with a schematic to the current stable state. Empowering the client with the details providing them with a clear understanding influenced them to take action thus changing their network infrastructure to one that works efficiently. The potential positives to the following plan are as follows.
Should the client comply with the proposal providing the solution to their network; they will be rewarded with a network that is optimally configured. This will result in network operating efficiency and business processes will maintain its integrity. Less classroom interruptions will arouse related to workstation issues. Students taking tests will be less frustrated due to server crashes along with workstations. Customer confidence in Aon corp will increase. The potential of business growth will result from the following project. There will be an ease of urgency related to network related issues. The organization can now focus on its business model focusing on their clients.
The capstone portrayed to be exciting yet challenging providing to be rewarding as well. In terms of goals and objectives I believe that it was successful. Client satisfaction has been achieved as each goal and object has been delivered. The reason why it was so successful and effective is due to the methodical planning prior to the initiation of the project. The necessity of preparation along with the preliminary client meetings has given me the fundamental understand on how to start building the project. Building a plan has given me an effective tool to deliver the clients expectations.
Attention to detail along with effective communication were advantage points that designed an effective proposal. The client was efficient in being proactive by understanding the problem at point and expressing their concerns. Together a proposed plan has been derived that would act as a roadmap to that optimal network infrastructure. Flexibility and client patience played an important role during the hiccup moments of the project. The ability to determine alternative routes in an event of hitting a wall is essential to the success of any project. As the project manager it was my pleasure to achieve the client’s deliverables along with the satisfaction that they truly deserve.
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http://www.microsoft.com/business/momentum/content/article.aspx?c Appendix 1: Capstone Competency Matrix
The graduate responds appropriately to diversity issues in the workplace. Implements an intuitive understanding of cultural and religious backgrounds; open to opinions in an attempt to understand diverse perspectives within the organization. Upper Division Collegiate Level Reasoning and Problem Solving The graduate analyzes open-ended problems by learning about the problem and evaluating the accuracy and relevance of different Quality control is effective at determining common occurrences in issues; therefore, updating rules/protocols alleviate the issue at point. Upper Division Collegiate Level Reasoning and Problem Solving The graduate recognizes the value of critical thinking in identifying and understanding the underlying structures of disciplines and professions.
Organizational issues are indifferent each day; critical thinking along with brainstorming are essential in order to research a resolution to problematic issues. Upper Division Collegiate Level Reasoning and Problem Solving The graduate demonstrates effective presentational communication strategies in a given context. Applies trial and error to mimic the problem; then applies extensive research in reaching a solution to the issue. The research along with the problem is then logged as evidence for future claims.
Language and Communication
The graduate applies foundational elements of effective communication Communicates effectively in a stressful environment providing attention to detail.
Language and Communication
The graduate demonstrates effective presentational communication strategies in a given context. Evaluates graphical representation software to determine a flaw or an instability in performance/security of the organization.
The graduate identifies and discusses basic concepts of security and security threats, and recommends security procedures. Implements a secure environment for each individual client PC; educating users on the importance of potential threats to network security.
The graduate identifies security needs and recommends appropriate security practices for network infrastructure. Educates staff on the importance of implementing sufficient tools and policies in an attempt to protect the integrity of data crucial to the organization infrastructure.