Sunny Days Solar Network Monitoring and Evaluation

Companies are always looking to increase the number of users of their networks. As such, the system capacity must also be streamlined to accommodate this increase. This can be costly and time-consuming to the extent that the company is not able to focus on the core business, which is different from maintaining a robust network system. The Sunny Days Solar has found itself in a position where its network required streamlining so that the users are well accommodated and to ensure that there are no challenges of overloading during communication. To achieve this, Sunny Days Solar considered the network resources that it has and manages the human resources at its IT department.

The company implemented a number of changes to its network, including the reduction of complexity in diversity and scale. Thus, it was important to prepare a heterogeneous network to develop a network system that could handle the increased scale by having more cell sites, in addition to addressing the requirements for increased demand on the system. In addition, the company also needed to mitigate the size of the cells through customization to achieve greater flexibility. It would enable it accommodate different needs on the system; whether from internal or external users. Thus, there was a need for optimized platforms that could inculcate different functions through access media and network topology. This was accomplished through a strategic approach to implementation of a new network system that can accommodate the demands from users.

Sunny Day Solar Company provides solar panels to customers all over the country. Much of its operations are focused on receiving phone calls and emails about the progress of customers who have purchased the solar panels. As the company is interested in knowing how clients are using the panels and if there are any challenges, it encourages its customers to communicate frequently with the company so that their issues can be sorted out quickly and promptly. With the increasing number of clients, the network system of the company is not able to serve efficiently as messages get cloaked up in the system.

Also, the system is programmed in a way that both the company administration and the client can see their account with details about payment and the remaining balance owed to the company. The vendors who sell the solar panels also can see their commissions and general performance by creating their own accounts. New customers are added onto the system daily and this increases the demand on the resources of the network. The capstone project sought to address the challenge of overload on the company’s network. The project was meant to demonstrate how to increase the capacity of the network at the company without interfering with the normal operations or losing any of the data and information of users from within and outside the company. The project is intended to make it possible for the company to add customers onto the network without overloading the system. Another strategy is to allow messages to be delivered as quickly as possible and to the right person.

Other Work done in Network Monitoring and Evaluation

Network monitoring and evaluation covers a number of activities in an organization. From acquisition of new network systems to training the end users, network monitoring requires the company to have a clear understanding of its business needs across the continuum with considerations of the stakeholders, the end users, and the efficient resources and tools required optimizing the system. In this project, considerations were based on the increased number of users, the kind of information communicated through the system, the available technology to facilitate implementation of an efficient system and the financial and human resources available to implement the network system (Deri & Suin, 2000).

In terms of the end users, the network monitoring and evaluation process was based on their level of capacity to effectively use the network to communicate. This required, for instance, allocating different users at different times when they could send or receive messages. It also required separating users into categories depending on their priority and importance to the overall goal of the company. For instance, vendors were expected to send in their reports of sales at the end of each day while customers were allowed to send messages about their products at the end of each week. Also, customers could only check the status of their accounts at the end of each 30 day period. As customers have different payment periods, the period for payment varied from customer to customer.

Allocation of users into categories was based on whether they were internal users or external users. Internal users included the staff who work at the company in various departments. The IT department staff was given a higher level of access to the system as they are in charge of monitoring challenges or violation of rights by users. Also, the human resource department staff has a higher level of access the records of employees as well as the ability to update the information.

On the other hand, external users included customers and vendors. These users have limited level of access confined to their specific accounts. They cannot access information about other customers or view the overall performance of the company in terms of sales and payment. The vendors who sell the solar panels to clients can see only their performance and not the rest of vendors. The project also depended on the available resources that were deployed in acquiring the necessary tools to implement it. The company management sourced financial resources along with the support of the staff and other stakeholders to implement a new system of managing electronic records.

In order to achieve the objective of having a company network system that can handle the increasing number of users, the project was implemented following certain requirements. First, the project was expected to help the company to maintain the security of the data. In this sense, it was important that a number of issues be addressed. The first issue was the hardware tools that were selected as the repository of all communication data within and outside of the company. The company needed to be robust enough in order to achieve the set goals.

There was also the inclusion of a firewall in the system to prevent intrusions on the network from external attacks. It was also important that a backup methodology be established to help in the recovery of data or communication messages should the network became vulnerable or attacked from the outside. The backup methodology could also come in handy when the network is overloaded and business activities cannot continue normally because of the challenge of overloading. In essence, all technical aspects of an optimally functional network were considered during the implementation process (Deri & Suin, 2000).

A number of actions were undertaken to achieve the anticipated performance in terms of end users experiencing better services whenever they want to use the network for communication. As such, it was prudent that these activities be straight forward in addressing the business needs of Sunny Days Solar in the area of infrastructure development, network setup, and user training. Technically, issues such as maintenance of a secure central data were essential in ensuring that the network is secure and the communication messages are maintained in a state of integrity. Considerations were also made in the area of deployment to ensure high performance, workstations, and low cost implementation in a bid to maximize efficiency of performance (McGregor, Braun & Brown, 2000).

In addition, performance level, reliability of the network and expanded servers were included in the implementation of the technical aspects to achieve better data availability for all users and enhance easier installation of configured firewall to maximize the security features of the network. Finally, the implementation process was done within the requirements of a good physical network and infrastructure to support optimum functioning of the network during off peak and peak times, when many of the users are logged into the system.

Review of Works on Network Monitoring and Measuring

Due to the computerization of almost every company’s operations, the dependence on networking has increased tremendously. Today, the practice of network monitoring and measuring is an essential aspect of management and operations at most companies. The majority of companies are dependent on networks to provide products to customers. This is a departure from the past practice when system administrators did not even exist, and companies had a few network devices and a limited number of computers.

It has surpassed the ability of system administrators to monitor and measure incoming and outgoing messages through the company’s network. We have moved from 100Mbps to more than 10Gbps of bandwidth and the asynchronous transfer mode and even wireless networks that ensure the rapid delivery of messages. With the increase in speed comes the need for better monitoring and measuring tools in terms of hardware and software. The tools should be able to withstand the sophisticated traffic of messages received every second (Chakchai, 2011).

Despite the increase in traffic over network systems, there are tools that network and system administrators can implement to ensure the stability and availability of their networks during high traffic. It is important to identify any loopholes in the system that can cause potential overload beforehand to fix imminent network problems on time. Addressing them will also help avoid the possibility of network failure, high maintenance costs, making the network vulnerable to attacks, and enhancing better network planning practices.

A network failure must immediately be detected, isolated, and corrected in terms of the malfunctions that have been experienced. The ultimate purpose is to recover any failure along the system. It is a common practice for different agents to warn system administrators of the need to fix a problem within minutes of the problem occurring. Even so, the system administrator has the responsibility to monitor the system in times of stability to monitor threats from both inside or outside of the organization. It is standard practice to regularly check network performance to detect any signs overload. Information about the capacity of the network and the network usage levels is crucial in making plans for long-term and short-term improvement so that the network can serve an increasing number of end users.

A number of tools exist to deal with monitoring and analysis of the network, including the Simple Network Management Protocol, Network Flow Monitoring and Analysis, Sniffing, and Windows Management Instrumentation. These tools are dependent on the data packet and the information in the network traffic. Network administrators need to understand precisely the behavior of their networks, including network usage and application, resource utilization and network anomalies (McGregor, Braun & Brown, 2000). Also important are the vulnerabilities caused by the increase in end users with the view of fixing them.

In order to gain a fully functioning and optimal network, system administrators need to review the required tools for a complex network that serves hundreds of thousands or even millions of end users. Implementing a big network presents challenges due to the many complex applications required to configure before validating the functioning of the network. It is important that the administrators and the entire IT department take note of the intensity and the scale of the project through the review processes to enable it gain a mental picture of what is already available and what may be required in the future.

To keep track of this project, a check list of the required tools and software will be presented, including the DNS and DHCP servers, LDAP initialization and shared point directory roots. In the shared point directory roots, a number of minimum requirements for efficiently handling of the requests from the users both at the company and from outside will be adhered to. They include: Profile directories, user rights and privileges and logon scripts. In addition, there will be provisions for profile folder redirection and the deletion of roaming profiles upon logging out of the system (McGregor, Braun & Brown, 2000). There will also be the installation and updating of software and creation of the roll-out images that will provide the users with unique identification of their profiles and characteristics when they communicating on the network.

The project is based on the assumption that the roaming profiles of the users on the network and their characteristics will continuously change. Due to this, the amount of time taken to log in and out of the system will change as well. When a user enters the system through the login using the default configurations, the system must be able to record the data on the local machine under a given directory. The changes initiated while the user is logged into the network must be recorded in a central server automatically.

Appropriate registry changes are effected on the user profile logged into the network and update the registry with the configurations of the user profile. However, the amount of data transferred at any given time when a user is logged into the system should be regulated through the removal of shortcuts in the most current directory. The system administrator should implement a protocol that ensures that no records of the web browser are dumped into the folder without permission of the administrator. The end users will be trained to avoid placing large files on the desktop but always use mapped directory to save documents rather than the common My Document.

Rationale and Systems Analysis for the Project

The implementation of the current project, which seeks to deliver high performing and effective network system to Sunny Days Solar, is based on a number of business needs. First, Sunny Days Solar is not an IT company, but rather a seller of solar panels. However, in order to carry out its functions, the company relies heavily on network for communication, data security, integrity, and availability. Also, the number of customers has increased tremendously, surpassing the capacity of the network to handle the incoming and outgoing packets of data in an effective manner. As a result, the company faces the danger of jeopardizing its business through a network system that cannot serve its purposes well. Customers and other users of the network are likely to experience challenges whenever they want to access information about their accounts and even during communication with each other.

Also, as the network system is overwhelmed, the danger of compromising the security of the data is high through intrusions and attacks. The company is also likely to experience high costs on maintaining the integrity and availability of its information to the extent that it may not be viable to continue serving an increased number of clients without considering its network system. To this end, it is assumed that the cost of implementing a new network system now is cheaper compared to if the network system were to be implemented sometime in the future. It is, therefore, prudent that the company management consider overhauling of its current network system by bringing on board all stakeholders and the necessary tools; software and hardware in an effort to achieve an efficient network system. The clients who are located in far off places rely entirely on the company network for all communications and would, therefore, be disappointed if the network were not serving their needs the way it should.

As a result of the rapid increase in the demand for networked services at the company, caused by an increase in the number of end users, Sunny Day Solar has had to deal with many messages and details of the customers. Most of this information can be stored in databases using spreadsheets. Due to the distance between the company and customers, communication is facilitated through network functions. Also, the staff working at the company depends on the network to communicate within each other and with outside vendors. In addition, the data about clients and staff of the company are changing due to employee turnover. This means that the IT department, in collaboration with human resources, must regularly manage the information kept in the database.

Some of the crucial functions such as payment from customers and payment to vendors run on the company’s network system. This information should be received and recorded in real time. Additionally, the company’s vendors across the country sell the panels to customers at different rates, making it necessary to keep track of their performance. The records about vendors are updated at the end of the workday. As a result, evenings pose a great challenge to the company’s network as many people try to access the network to make a payment. The number of employees is also regularly changing due to turnover. Due to the growth of the company, employees who are hired exceed those who are leaving, meaning that the pressure on the network is expounded further whenever a new employee joins the company (Chakchai, 2011).

Furthermore, customers are routinely accessing the company’s network to view new products or enquire about their products whenever they have a problem. On average, the company receives three times the amount of data than the system was designed to hold at any one time. Initially, they were told that they would be receiving automatic replies whenever they make payment or have an enquiry. The need to have real-time response to the messages from clients asking about the products purchased from the company is crucial as it impacts the marketability of the products to more customers (McGregor, Braun & Brown, 2000).

Customers and clients must be assured that their messages will be delivered to the right personnel at the company within the expected time. It is also important that allocation of commissions and other benefits to the vendors be done in the right manner to avoid the complaints that can arise from the sale of solar panels. A lapse in the delivery of messages to the company can have a negative impact on the image of the company both from vendors and clients. In order to avoid this situation, it is important that a robust network system be implemented to accommodate the increased demand on the network and ensure efficient services to the customers, staff, and the rest of the stakeholders. Availability, integrity, and access of the data on the network are also an issue that concerned the management and prompted the need to implement a new network system. These factors impact on the safety of data resting on the network since using an ineffective network may compromise the safety of the data.

Review of Project Goals and Objectives

The aim of this project was to achieve three major goals. The first goal was to enable the end users of the network systems at Sunny Day Solar to have a network system that meets the requirements in the areas of security, faster access and maintain the integrity of information. In order to achieve this, it was essential that an evaluation of the demands on the network against the available hardware and software be done to ascertain the capacity to deliver these services. Implementing the technical aspects of the network facilitated by the IT department was also necessary. This required an expansion of the IT department and a redefinition of the roles and responsibilities of the department staff. As the company was setup primarily to provide solar panel products to customers, the IT department was not created with the view of handling all the network requirements. In fact, the existing network was developed by a contractor who had left the company after the installation was completed. A team of three people was created to oversee the performance of the network. The team members did not have the technical understanding of the software and hardware required to implement a robust network necessary to serve the ever expanding number of clients.

The second goal was to ensure that the company had the necessary software and hardware to handle the demands of the network system and implement the services in a seamless way. For this goal to be achieved, it was important to create a dedicated IT department with qualified staff who knew how to implement a network system that could serve many people. This meant that the company management needed to create an IT department from scratch by hiring professionals in networking and giving them a clear mandate and responsibilities to develop and implement an effective network system. It also required a change of technology since the present network did not correspond to the needs and demands of the services. The upgrade could potentially result in the loss of previous data. However, this was never considered a viable option for the company since losing previous data could imply starting over. It could also mean losing customers or the ability to track of their payments outstanding to the company.

The third goal was to develop a training program for the staff and other stakeholders at Sunny Days Solar to teach them how to use the system to avoid compromising the security of the data. Training end users also meant ensuring that they did not engage in activities that could cause an overloading of the system such as sending heavy files. In order to achieve this goal, the project needed to include a creation of a training manual and provision of financial resources. It would enable it get the right people to train the staff and other stakeholders about access points, security, integrity, and availability of data stored on the network system of the company. This proved to be a challenging endeavor as the company had not anticipated the high costs of training its staff on how to use the network. It was also not possible to get the clients and other external users in one place to training as this did not fall within their interests.

As a result, the implementation process relied on assumptions that whatever network system would be implemented would be easy to use and accommodate the demands of customers. The project implementation process did not factor in the issue of client training since it presented several challenges to the company. Moreover, the project is not specifically about the use of ICT tools by customers. Rather, it is a methodology to improve serve delivery and customer satisfaction through better service delivery. We believe that streamlining will lead to better services even with the increased number of customers who use the network.

This project was accomplished through a number of steps. The first one was to carry out a survey of the network system operations and capacity at the company to ascertain the extent to which it was susceptible overload. This survey was mainly focused on the software and hardware specifications that were used to develop the network. However, it also incorporated the internal users as they had firsthand experience of facing the challenges of retrieving information from the network. A lesson learnt during this process was that the challenges on the network were more of an increase of users as opposed to the obsolesce of the software and hardware tools used. This means that we could transport the data on the network to a new system without losing the data since the new tools needed to be compatible with the ones used now.

The second step involved developing the prototype network with the new components testing and validation of the capacity of the system. The prototype system needed to have the specifications that would be used in the actual network. Nonetheless, this step was not accomplished since it was expensive and time-consuming. It was also difficult to get enough people to log into the system at the same time and send messages. To resolve this challenge, we decided to use a case study from another company that had more customers than Sunny Days Solar but had managed to implement a network system to handle the quantity of data coming through the system. We sought permission from the selected company and assured them that the study was solely meant for purposes of helping Sunny Days Solar implement its own network system.

The checklist was made to indicate the software and hardware tools that could handle the complex activities at the company. It was important that the checklist be made to avoid missing out on the important resources or tools required to have an efficient network system. The development of the checklist was done by a committee of the newly hired experts in the area of network design and development to ensure that all the aspects of the network are covered. The configuration of redundant connections and functionalities on the system was also done to ascertain the capability of the new system to handle high traffic. The development of network monitoring tools to warn the system administrator on areas that require urgent attention. A timeline and the responsibilities of various departments within the allocated budget was developed to keep the activities within their appropriate time. In this case, a Gantt chart became important since it could help the team to visualize the progress of the activities and speed up those that seemed to fall behind the schedule.

For us to achieve maximum success in the implementation of the project, all objectives and goals had to be accomplished within the set timeline. Each of the identified goals and objectives were important in the eventual success of network functioning and enhancement. The importance of documenting each process during network implementation and the monitoring process was in keeping track of the implementation process. Troubleshooting of the network is a must-do exercise because it will help ensure that adequate and necessary diagrammatic representation of the actual network is realized within the allocated timeline. Sunny Days Solar has had only one systems administrator responsible for both the company’s network and the ICT equipment at the company. This is an overwhelming task given that the company has more than 500 employees in its headquarter offices and more than 100,000 customers. The available number of staff directly related to the maintenance of the network is not sufficient to meet the needs of the users at the company. In fact, almost everything stalls because the sales at the company depend on the communication and interactions between the staff and potential customers.

Project Timeline: Why Timeframes were met or not met as Planned

The timeframe for the project was divided into a number of activities that facilitated the accomplishment of the whole project. The time allocated for each activity varied depending on the kind of tasks involved in the activity. The first activity was the survey of the needs of the company in one month. The tasks that were listed for this activity included formulating methods for collecting data and information from different users, administration of questionnaires, interviews, and other tools and selection of a sample of participants in the exercise. The timeline was not achieved as the cost for this activity was underestimated. Also, the number of tasks was greater compared to other activities. Because this was the first activity of the project, the implementation team had not put in place the necessary tools and framework to assist in the accomplishment of the survey. As a result, the activity ended up being run for three months, two months longer than its initial plan. This meant that the subsequent activities were delayed for two months as well.

The second activity involved the analysis of the findings of the survey. This was planned to take one month in duration. The analysis was accomplished within the allocated time of one month as the implementation team in collaboration with the IT department had organized a team of professional consultants with experience in analyzing results from survey and make reports on the findings of a survey. The team was also quick in making its recommendations concerning the corrective measures that were needed to prevent the challenges in the network system while implementing a new form of network system management.

The third activity, which was very important for the successful implementation of the project, involved assembling of the appropriate software and hardware for implementing the new system. It required the leadership of the IT department to select the vendors who could supply the tools that were necessary for the project. This activity was planned to take place within a period of two months. The various involved parties were expected to make a checklist of the required tools including the computers, servers, multi-network routers, wiring cables, among other tools. It was also the responsibility of the team to decide on the supplier who could deliver the appropriate products as a fair price. This activity was delayed for two more months as some vendors did not have the tools that were ordered. It was also not clear which equipment were needed and, therefore, a proper analysis needed to be done to avoid missing out on something important. Some suppliers also needed time to organize the tools before being delivered to the company.

The next activity was the four month-long project implementation. This formed the actual project and involved assembling the tools, installation of the software and hardware across the company, testing and deployment. It also involved preparation of the work environment through overhaul of the system, monitoring and evaluation of the installation, creating the prototype and the accompanying activities ands determining the needs of the user. The activity was accomplished within the allotted time because the team was in active mood and everything was available for actual implementation. The users had been alerted about the project and the management provided all the required financial needs to acquire human resources and other tools needed to implement the project.

Awareness and training took one month and involved training the users about the new system. All the stakeholders who used the network in one way or the other were trained within this period, including the vendors and the agents who sell the products to customers in various parts of the country. This activity was accomplished within the allocated time because the team that was involved in the implementation of the project was retained to assist in the awareness and training. This was a departure from the initial plan where the IT department had been originally tasked with those responsibilities. The activity was also successful because it was easier to achieve awareness. The users had been informed about the ongoing implementation process and some of them had come requesting further information. Also, the media and marketing department assisted in awareness by distributing information to users prior to the actual deployment of the new system network at the company.

The deployment process lasted two weeks although it had only been planned to take one week. The reason for the delay was the transfer of the data from the old network to the new network, which was not anticipated in the initial plan. However, as the implementation team gathered the tools, it became evident that transporting the data to the new system was achievable. Deployment involved the gradual integration of the operations at the company into the new network system through process steps in a way that would not interrupt the normal operations of the company. The process was taken with great care to avoid a mismatch in the delivery of data from vendors and users across the country. Awareness and training played a crucial role in letting the users know when to send in their data as well as departmental based delivery of data to the new system during the deployment process.

The management also provided full support since this was the homestretch of the whole project and it needed careful planning so that a new network system could be put in place. The final activity was planned to be ongoing throughout the period of the network operation. The monitoring and evaluation was assigned to the IT department to ensure that the new network system was functioning according to the expectations and objectives set out. This process is being implemented through use of tools to report emerging challenges by the users. Its two aims were to ensure that the network system did not fall behind the minimum performance as outlined in the objectives and to enable the IT department to address the challenges as they come. The company hired expert personnel to continue the process of monitoring and evaluation within the needs of the company.

Project Development

The current project was designed to accomplish three objectives. The first is to provide users at Sunny Days Solar with a network system that meets their requirements, both in terms of speed of accession and the accuracy of the information recorded. The second goal is to provide networking tools, both hardware and software that allow any increase of users to be automatically implemented without the need for manual input. The third goal is to provide a training program for users of the network so that they do not overload the system through actions that could be avoided. In this project, end users were trained from their locations across the country. Training them was a challenge since they were residing far away from the premises of the company. Moreover, the project was not specifically about the use of ICT tools by customers, but rather a methodology to improve serve delivery and customer satisfaction through better service delivery. We believe that streamlining service through the company network will lead to better service even with the increased number of customers who use it.

There were a number of challenges that were encountered in the process of trying to accomplish this project. The first challenge was a lack of necessary information on the utilization of the network capacity. Although it was evident that the existing network did not serve the purpose for which it was designed, it was not immediately clear as to whether the problem was caused by the hardware, software, or the end users. Any one of these factors could have caused a lull in the delivery of data and effective communication between different parties. The access, availability, and integrity of the data were also issues that were not captured in the initial documentation of the network system. This presented the challenge of having to develop the policies for access, availability, and integrity control and management.

In order to accomplish the project within the set time and resources, it was important that a number of changes be made on the original plan. Initially, it was planned that all end users from within and outside the company would be be trained. However, this was changed after realizing that some of the customers completed their payments to the company and were no longer active users of the network. This implied that having them trained on how to use the network was not going to be feasible for the company. In addition, some of the end users were not interested in the technical functioning of the network. Furthermore, having all the users trained on how to use the network presented many challenges to the implementation team and could have delayed the process of implementation.

The other change that was made in the original plan was the acquisition of the tools from suppliers. It was planned that only one supplier would be contracted to supply the hardware and software tools to be used in the development of the new network system. It later became evident that sourcing the equipment from a single supplier was going to be costly and difficult. Thus, the implementation team made changes to have as many suppliers as possible contradicted to give different components used in the development and implementation of the network. Having many suppliers also reduced the cost of acquiring the tools because of the competitiveness of contradict and the fact that different suppliers could have different prices of the tools.

Subsequently, changes were made in the technical specifications of the software and hardware tools that were used during the implementation process. Initially, it had been planned that the data on the existing network was not going to be moved onto the new system. This was likely going to impact negatively on the activities at the company. However, based on the advice of the consultants, it was agreed that the project be implemented within the then present data. The data could be exported to the new network system without causing any hiccups to the normal functioning of the company. Thus, changes were made in the initial plan to accommodate the portability of data while also maintaining accessibility and integrity of the current data. There was a need to ensure that all the current data was exported to the new network system without causing problem in the operations of the company. Thus, it was agreed that the consultants use the latest technology in the market to make this possible. It was also important to evaluate the future needs of the company in case it needed to increase the capacity of the network. Issues of security and backup were also integrated in the changes with proposals to have backup servers located in a different premise other than the company premises. The initial plans had not considered the issue of backup of data and this evidently threatened the security of the data in the event of a catastrophe.

The network system was designed to facilitate the client base and staff based data in the sense that staff details were also accessible from the same network. This plan was changed later to separate the end users into different categories. This technically meant that the company could maintain more than one network on a single server. The reason for this was to separate business information from non-business information. The technical implementation of this arrangement also meant that the company was in better control of its confidential information. It also made it more difficult for intruders and attackers on the network to access private information about the employees at the company as this allowed better control measures to be installed. It also facilitated easier and faster access of information by the end users since there were more than one line on the network serving different purposes. It was not a single line serving all the operations.

The other reason for the changes that were made during the implementation of the project covered areas of responsibilities. The human resource department was given the responsibility of verifying the data about employees to avoid transporting data for employees who had left the company. Also, the data about new employees were also included in the new network system at the company since it had stopped when there were problems with delivery of service. This role was left to the human resource department as the information was confidential and needed to be handled by people who are authorized to handle it. The human resource officers were trained on how to transfer the data to the new system to enable them to perform this technical aspect of the project. The control measures and plans that were deployed in terms of login details and other security measures were enhanced further owing to the potential of the intrusion and attacks on the new network system.

Since the deployment was not being done for the first time in the area of networking, the implementation team opted to borrow lessons from other related companies that had previously moved to a new network system. This was not captured in the initial plan, and that meant that the company sought for permission from such companies to draw lessons from what they had learnt during the deployment process. The preparation of the relevant documentation including training manuals and other technical specifications of the network were heavily borrowed from the companies that had successfully deployed their network system in the recent past. It was decided that the tools and specifications used in this project be in line with the best practice in networking currently available in the market.

A research team of three people was created to spearhead the process of collecting the current best practice in the area that could allow Sunny Day Solar to deploy a network system which conforms to the legal and need factors in the industry. The changes that were made on the initial plan were mainly focused on delivering the best network system that could help the company to overcome the challenges of overloading while also maintaining high levels of integrity, access, and availability of the communication between different departments.

In the process of implementing the project, it was anticipated that users needed to provide their actual and potential needs in terms of data access and communication. This information could help the implementation team to estimate the capacity and specifications of the tools that would be used to develop the network. The servers, computers, multi-leveled routers, wiring systems among other components were needed to develop the project to the final stages. It was also anticipated that backup equipment would be needed in the event that the current data was not transferred to the new system in the format that was appropriate for access. Security of information and data communicated through the network also formed an important part of the anticipated needs. It was thus essential that aspects that ensure better management and control of data be integrated into the network.

It was also anticipated that the network would start working optimally after deployment. This meant that necessary preparation in planning and acquisition of the tools to network was put in place before the actual implementation of the project. The effect of this planning was that better network was developed and a seamless transfer of data was achieved. The end users experienced better services in terms of sending their communication messages. The company also gained better control in terms of security, accessibility, availability, and integrity of the data transmitted through the network. The vendors of the solar panels also are able to submit their daily sales with ease and in an effective way. There are no challenges when it comes to sending and receiving of the messages from different parts of the country.

The project was both effective and a great success since it delivered better network performance even when many people were logged into the system. The network is also able to accommodate more users, and thus alleviating the problem of increasing users. The project also allowed Sunny Days Solar to establish an IT dedicated unit to monitor and evaluate the network thereby relieving itself of the task of maintaining the network. In this way, the company is able to focus on its core business which is selling the solar panels while the technical aspects are delegated to the IT department.

More importantly, the project allowed the staff at the company to acquire IT skills through training which ensure that all the employees could identify and report a problem on the network. It has also been able to attain better security measures and control to avoid intrusion and attacks which in the past caused the company a lot of resources in trying to stop them. Overall, the project was successful in the way it helped the company to organize its financial and human resources and gain better management and leadership skills. The process of communicating the purpose of the project to the stakeholders also provided a valuable opportunity where each head of department acquired communication skills and marketing skills. The company acquired best practices in management of the network as well as management of the people and other resources at its disposal.

A well planned and implemented network must be flexible in terms of the capacity of users who are able to utilize the system at any one time. Giga Ethernet and Cisco Networking Systems present a better solution to a company that is experiencing difficulties on its network. These network systems are designed to allow automation and control of the entire network of the company through different port configurations, connection supported features, power support and mounting support all in one package. The planning and designing of the proposed project is dependent on the availability of first level access to users with identified rights and privileges. Moreover, the identified persons who are involved directly or indirectly in the implementation of the project need to understand the goals and objectives so that implementation is done within the set limits. The availability of the network to the ever growing number of customers is an important aspect in the business of the company. The company’s core business is to sell solar panel products to its customers. However, the process depends largely on the effectiveness and efficiency of the network to allow communication between the customers and staff.

Proper communication tools and network will ensure the security of the information being communicated, easier interaction, efficient services, and a more cost-effective process of doing business. It will also attract more customers as many of them will be satisfied with the services of the company and act as marketers for this particular company. The staff will also enjoy doing their work and will no longer struggle with the issues related to an overloaded system. The vendors of the solar panels on their part will be able to submit their daily sales without any difficulty. In that way, they will receive commissions commensurate with what they sell and the region they are located.

Demonstrated Competencies

During the process of implementing the network project at Sunny Days Solar, a number of competencies were demonstrated in each of the activities that were undertaken. The accomplishment of the project required me to demonstrate my competence in the areas of leadership and professionalism, language and communication, quantitative literacy, and information and communication technology. The above competencies were inculcated in the steps from initial planning to monitoring and evaluation of the functional network system. In terms of leadership, I first gathered the support of the top management and the staff at the company when proposing the new network system. I laid out the problems and challenges that the company was experiencing by using the old network system in communication. It was evident that staff and other users of the network had experienced difficulties in sending and receiving of messages through the network. However, they had not conceptualized the extent of the impact the slow network functionality was having on the overall performance and did not know how to solve the problem. I also brought to their attention the need to develop a team of experts who would lead the process of implementing a new network by coming up with the objectives, goals, and policies. These were agreed upon in meetings that I held regularly with different stakeholders in an effort to get their support to have a new network system.

In exercising my leadership and professionalism in this project, I was able to apply a number of leadership in getting the project done. First, I developed social competences by having to con different groups and departments to support the idea of implementing a new network system. Social intelligence was needed to convince the management to provide the necessary funds to acquire the tools for implementing the project as well as provide material support to the implementing team. Social intelligence was enhanced in interpersonal skills as a leader of the project. I related well with the internal and external stakeholders during meetings, gained their support in carrying out the surveys, and convinced them on the need for a better network system at the company. In actual skills, interpersonal skills were needed to get work done while remaining focused on the objectives and goals of the organization.

Management excellence was another competence that I demonstrated during the implementation of this project. This competence required me to lead through action, manage both people and finances to ensure that whatever roles and tasks assigned to them are accomplished on time. Management excellence was particularly important in ensuring that the activities were done within the schedule to avoid extra cost. I also demonstrated the engagement as a leadership competence where I was able to mobilize people, stakeholders, and other partners in support of the project. Engagement meant that I brought all the relevant people, including experts and professionals, on board to support the process of implementing a new network at the company. As a leader, I was also expected to use a strategic thinking approach in trying to come up with the right tools and specification of the network. The project must be accomplished within the stated objectives. This meant that a small deviation could have derailed the whole process. In order to achieve the objectives, strategic thinking was necessary when initiating changes in plans or tools which were used in planning and implementation of the project.

I also used prudence in my leadership during the execution of the project. Prudence was needed since I was responsible for managing the financial resources. I also exercised prudence when it came to selecting the suppliers and liaising with the external users during the collection of information about their needs. Prudence was also needed to keep confidential information about the company from getting into the hands of unauthorized persons. Conflict management was another competence skill that came in handy, especially when selecting the suppliers. I did not select the suppliers who were linked to me as the leader of the project as that could have amounted to the conflict of interest in the project. Decision making was yet another competence skill that I needed as a leader to be able to make decisions that were good for the project and which contributed to the final success. For instance, deciding to have an awareness program within the implementation process made users enthusiastic and supportive of the project. This made the process of implementation easier and cheaper. I also applied my decision making competence in terms of the software and hardware that could allow us to transfer the data from the previous network to the current network without losing any of the crucial data.

Upper Division Collegiate Level Reasoning and Problem Solving

During the implementation of the project, I was able to apply my reasoning and problem solving competences in various occasions. In planning of the project, I prepared a list of objectives and goals as well as the deliverables that were needed to bring the project to proper functioning. I applied both dynamic and static problem solving competencies to develop solutions to technical and human problems that faced the company. For instance, on the human aspect, there were no experts employed at the organization to specifically address the issues of network failures. There were also no a special IT department who possessed the equipment and technical knowledge on optimization of network performance. The company also lacked a framework to determine the level of security control measures that were needed to ensure the safety of data and the network in general. As a result, the network was vulnerable to intrusion from outside attackers who potentially manipulated the data and caused the company much loss. For this purpose, I documented the security loopholes in the network and ensured that they do not replicate in the new network that was implemented.

In applying my problem solving skills in this context, I participated in a number of activities including searching for information, structuring it in the correct format, and integrating it in the proper situation. I also took part in the brainstorming meetings to come up with solutions to the problems. I helped plan and execution the project issuing directions to the people who were charged with the responsibility of programming the network, collecting the tools and installing them at various focal points. I participated actively in the execution, monitoring, and evaluation of the solution steps and in the continuous process of the information coming from the end users while also providing the feedback to questions raised in the meetings. Throughout the execution process, I provided problem solving competency in the area of reasoning based on the goals and objectives of the project, evaluating the milestones already accomplished, integrating and ordering new solutions, and providing critical thinking directions to the implementation team.

Language and Communication

Language and communication are important in the successful accomplishment of any project. As the leader of the project, I ensured that the language I used to communicate with the people involved in the project was clear and professional. I accomplished this by using simple and formal language to communicate to different persons in the company. Communication was done in a two way approach where people were expected to provide feedback on the progress of the project. Communication, as a tool for accomplishing the project, was done through meetings, notice boards, and social media. I ensured that all the important messages reach the concerned parties with the aim of getting their views and support during the actual implementation of the project.

In general, the language and communication competencies were expressed through linguistic competencies which ensured good grammar and vocabulary of language. In this case, I used words that expressed the direction that we needed to take to accomplish the project successfully. I also applied sociolinguistic competency in different meeting and responded to language appropriately depending on the composition of the meetings that I led. I applied the discourse competence as well where I determined how to apply the language in relation to the context of communication. In this case, discourse competence was widely applied in speeches, emails, and conversations that I had with different stakeholders at the company. The last competence in language and communication was the strategic competence where I was able to recognize and rectify any misunderstanding or breakdown in communication.

Quantitative Literacy

This kind of competence was demonstrated in a number of functions that I undertook during the entire process of implementing the project. Quantitative literacy was used in calculating the costs of the activities and tools that were used in the project execution. Quantitative reasoning was applied in analyzing the risks and challenges that the organization faced with the existing network. Furthermore, the competences were applied in deciding on the specifications of the software and hardware in addition to enhancing the probability of having a network that can accommodate more users. Quantitative literacy skills were applied in budgeting and comparing the prices from suppliers and vendors to determine the most reasonably priced options for the company. I demonstrated my computational skills by estimating the capacity of the network and reasonably make decisions concerning the specifications. I also took responsibility for converting the data from one format to another that could easily be kept on the network. I applied in the concepts that required logical reasoning and demonstrated the statistical and probability of achieving the objectives and goals by following certain steps while also considering the other alternatives. I contributed to the interpretation of information using charts and graphs to illustrate the extent of the impact that the project was going to have on the functions of the company.

Information and Communication Competencies

The information technology competencies that I demonstrated during the process of executing the current project were a reflection of the needs that existed in the company. As such, they were demonstrated through broader skills and flexibility of work and roles that I was leading. The competencies were evidenced in areas of software design and selection, network design that could serve the needs of the company, strategic management of the Information Technology tools, project management approaches, security implementation as well as development and creation of databases to define different categories of data in the network.

The project relied as much on software as on the hardware tools. In terms of software, IT competencies were demonstrated in the selection of the software that was going to serve the needs of the company. The specifications of the software needed also to be compatible with the hardware and the rest of the infrastructure that was being used at the company. In terms of IT competencies, I demonstrated leadership by understanding the emerging issues in networking, contributed to design and development of specifications and infrastructure for networking. I also contributed to the design and integration of the new network in the entire company communication system. I also led in demonstrating best practices in business by evaluating the social, political, and technological aspects of network management. Similarly, I provided leadership in planning, controlling, and management of activities such as surveys and meeting where discussions with the staff were focused on their needs and the needs of the company. I also gathered information through listening and communicating to other people in the company who had various opinions and views about the progress of the project and what could be done to make it effective.

Domain/Sub domain Competency Explanation
Leadership and professionalism Interpersonal skills, management skills, communication, social competence, engagement, strategic thinking, critical thinking, prudence The leadership and professional competences were demonstrated in my interaction with the people working on various activities towards the accomplishment of the project. Some of these competencies were applied in cases where there was no clear solutions and I had to apply critical thinking to come up with the right solution as the leader of the project
Upper division collegiate level reasoning and problem solving Critical thinking, problem solving, communication, interpersonal skills, research, strategic thinking, analysis and evaluation capacity, decision making, time management The reasoning and problem solving competencies were required in developing the policies, objectives and goals of the project. I also needed analysis and evaluation capacity to be able to understand the hidden challenges that the company might be experiencing due to an ineffective network. For example, I discovered that the company was vulnerable to attacks from the outside and this helped me in deciding to include security measures in the new network
Language and communication Use of formal language, linguistic competency, clarity, responding to questions, writing emails and other forms of communication, discourse competence, sociolinguistic competency, strategic competency Language and communication competencies were expressed through linguistic competencies which ensured good grammar and vocabulary of language. I used words that expressed the direction that we needed to take to accomplish the project successfully. Applied sociolinguistic competency in different meeting and responded to language appropriately depending on the composition of the meetings that I led. I applied the discourse competence as well where I determined how to apply the language in relation to the context of communication. Discourse competence was widely applied in speeches, emails, and conversations that I had with different stakeholders at the company. Strategic competence helped me recognize and rectify any misunderstanding or breakdown in communication.
Quantitative literacy Accounting, budgeting, financial management, quantitative reasoning, computational skills Quantitative literacy was used in calculating the costs of the activities and tools that were used in the project execution. Quantitative reasoning was applied in analyzing the risks and challenges that the organization faced with the existing network. Furthermore, these competencies were applied in deciding on the specifications of the software and hardware besides enhancing the probability of having a network that can accommodate more users. Quantitative literacy skills were applied in budgeting and comparing the prices from suppliers and vendors to determine the cheapest for the company. I demonstrated my computational skills by estimating the capacity of the network and reasonably making decisions concerning the specifications. I also took responsibility for converting the data from one format to another that could easily be kept on the network.
Software Source code control, programming, automation and testing, system analysis and design, communication, organization of codes across files, language and structures, knowledge of various tools for software development The competencies that I posses in software were instrumental in selecting the right software to be used in the servers and end user computers. I also applied my competency in system analysis and design to select the best software in networking including security of the network. Being able to effectively communicate my understanding of the software as an important domain helped the company to acquire the best product from suppliers as I was able to check on the specifications and other structures. Knowledge of tools in programming and design was also important in developing the log in details for different levels of users of the system
IT management Knowledge of emerging technology, design of technical specifications, system integration, understanding the context of technological practices, project planning, prioritizing, and administering, listening and communication, critical thinking, strategic thinking, problem solving skills, persuasion and influencing, focus on goal, adaptability to changes The IT management competencies were essential throughout the execution of the project. I was required to apply my knowledge of the technology industry and the changes that were taking place. I also designed the specifications of all the tools and equipment that were needed for the accomplishment of the project, I applied my knowledge of project planning, prioritizing issues, and administering decisions. I also listened to the members of my team as well as communicated in a precise way my views on the direction we needed to follow.
Project management Planning and organization, controlling, end-customer orientation, analytical skills, performance management, guidance, people management, tolerating stress, sensitivity, leadership communication The project management competencies were evidenced from the initial stages of the project where I participated in planning and organizing for the project to take off, I was involved in controlling the expenses and the resources that were allocated for the project. I also managed groups of people, performance evaluation and provided strong leadership through communication and analysis. At the project leader, I demonstrated the ability to overcome stressful moments especially when the project was not going as planned as we had to work long hours to rectify the situation.
Security Analysis and evaluation competency I used my competency to analyze and evaluate the potential risks facing the network and recommended measures to make it secure from intrusion and attacks.
Databases Design and development I used this competency to design and develop databases about the details of end users, giving them different access levels.
Networks Networking and analysis competency Networking competency was applied in each step of network implementation including acquisition of the correct tools and setting them up in different parts of the company. The tools included server and cables

References

Chakchai, I. (2011). A survey of network traffic monitoring and analysis tools.
Deri, L., & Suin, S. (2000). Effective traffic measurement using ntop. IEEE Communications Magazine, 38(5), 138-143.
McGregor, T., Braun, H.-W., & Brown, J. (2000). The NLAMR network analysis infrastructure. IEEE Communications Magazine, 38(5), 122-128.