Local Area Network over the Internet for mining house in Africa

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During 2004 Internet Direct were awarded an order to Project Plan and establish a Local Area Network from Johannesburg, South Africa to two branch offices in Mali, Africa by a large Mining House. The location of the African sites were Bamako (Mali`s Capital) and a mining site approximately 400km`s away.

Careful planning and project management were imperative to successful rollout. The project was planned and co-ordinated by Colin Wagner, Operations Director of Internet Direct in conjunction with the clients Network Manager and various other 3rd parties. Language barriers were only one small obstacle that had to be overcome in the planning; other problems were satellite connectivity, bandwidth restraints in Africa and the desert type environment surrounding the second site.

The project entailed the purchase of Firewalls, Compaq P4 Servers running MS Windows Active Directory and various networking equipment, including Switches, Routers, etc.

The project kicked off in June 2004 and was completed successfully by August 2004.

During June all necessary hardware and software was purchased and a replica of the LAN was created at the Clients Offices in Johannesburg for test purposes. This included the setup of Internet Lines (Diginet) representing the links between Mali and Johannesburg.

The tests took two weeks to complete - all user accounts could authenticate and receive their e-mail and work on the accounting program ACCPAC. Firewalls were configured with Global Client Licenses allowing management secure remote access through authentication on the PDC using any ISP. Management could then work on the servers and collect e-mail like they would normally had they been in the office.

Upon completion of the installation in Mali, links were established and the connection was proved to be a success from South Africa. Speeds between the two countries over the Internet depend upon the Traffic over the Satellite links in Africa, averaging about 625MS delays.

The project was not entirely without problems, which included the need to upgrade the two Mali sites to the latest anti-virus software and train staff locally. Engineers experienced problems trying to communicate in French and the loss of communications into Africa impacted on the allocated time allowed for installation on each site. Time differences between South Africa and Mali also had to be taken into consideration.

There have been a few problems with connectivity into Africa but the benefits to the Client have been immense. The main benefit to the client has been the ability to gain remote administration of the networks in Mali from South Africa securely over the Internet.

Editorial contacts
Internet Direct Pat Wagner (011) 900 1092
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