Network Configuration at MKS Instruments

Network Configuration at MKS Instruments

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In this paper we will examine the network configuration used at MKS Instruments. The areas covered will range from the network infrastructure, how it is implemented and how it is used. This paper will also include the technology, hardware involved and a small scale network diagram example.
There are many classes of IP addresses ranging from A all the way to E. Most large scale companies and offices use a Class A IP address schema while smaller locations use Class C. The MKS office in San Jose uses a Class B IP schema. Class B is used for medium-sized networks. A good example is a large college campus. IP addresses with a first octet from 128 to 191 are part of this class. Class B addresses also include the second octet as part of the Net identifier. The other two octets are used to identify each host. This means that there are 16,384 (214) Class B networks each with 65,534 (216 -2) possible hosts for a total of 1,073,741,824 (230) unique IP addresses.
The main location, which is a much larger office, uses a Class A IP address schema. This class is for very large networks. IP addresses with a first octet from 1 to 126 are part of this class. The other three octets are used to identify each host. This means that there are 126 Class A networks each with 16,777,214 (224 -2) possible hosts for a total of 2,147,483,648 (231) unique IP addresses.
The networks are split into two groups. There is a Production network and a Development network. Each of these networks resides on their own separate sub network. The reason for splitting the networks into two is to prevent network overload and slowdowns that would otherwise affect other departments within MKS such as Customer Service or Accounting. The production network involves non-development tasks such as the customer service database, email, the order entry and accounting systems. The development network involves all areas relating to product development. This network covers the server that stores base code, the development system, development tools, software libraries and software builds.
The networks are controlled through use of a router. This router is the only device that sees every message sent by any computer on either of the company's two networks. The router ensures that information doesn't go where it is not needed. This is crucial for keeping large volumes of data from clogging the connections of other departments at MKS.

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The router is extremely useful in dealing with two separate computer networks. It joins the two networks, passing information from one to the other and, in some cases, performing translations of various protocols between the two networks. It also protects the networks from one another, preventing the traffic on one from unnecessarily spilling over to the other.
When the developer sends a huge file to another developer, the router looks at the recipient's address and keeps the traffic on the development network. When the developer, on the other hand, sends a message to customer service asking about an issue, then the router sees the recipient's address and forwards the message between the two networks. The router uses a configuration table. A configuration table is a collection of information such as those connections that lead to particular groups of addresses, priorities for connections to be used and the rules for handling both routine and special cases of traffic.
A wireless network is provided from a Linksys Router in the Tool Web Lab. A wireless network allows computers to share printers, files or an internet connection without any wires between them. Wireless networking hardware uses radio frequencies to transmit information between the individual computers; each computer requires a wireless network adapter. This router allows for a small set of connections so that those in the lab can still be able to get email, and browse the MKS network with their mobile laptops that support wireless connections.
The issues with the wireless system have been the connection strength is not always strong; transferring of large files leads to bandwidth issues and many times the network simply gives out.
The two types of IP addresses used on the MKS network are static and dynamic. Each engineer is allowed up to 5 static IP addresses for their local development stations, tools and e-diagnostic boxes. A static IP address is basically a permanent reserved set of numbers for a specific device such as a printer or server. The local laptops and PCs are on dynamic IP addressing also known as DHCP short for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, a protocol for assigning dynamic IP addresses to devices on a network. Using the DHCP server simplifies the network administration since the software keeps track of IP addresses rather than requiring our administrator to manage the task. This means even additional development devices can be added to the network without the hassle of manually assigning it a unique IP address. Most importantly this can prevent IP conflicts that would otherwise affect other devices or users.
Internet connectivity is allowed at MKS but through the use of the Cisco PIX 501 Firewall. It is a purpose-built security appliance that provides rich security services including stateful inspection firewalling, virtual private networking (VPN) and intrusion protection. A firewall is simply a program or hardware device that filters the information coming through the Internet connection into the corporate network or computer system. If an incoming packet of information is flagged by the filters, it is not allowed through. The firewall is setup for Stateful inspection, Proxy service, and various rules for the Web Servers, Telnet Servers and FTP Servers. This firewall server protects the MKS network from viruses, email bombs, application backdoors, SMTP session hijacking, spam and many other programs that would be otherwise unhealthy for the network itself.
MKS does have a FTP server used mainly by the development team. FTP is short for File Transfer Protocol, the protocol for exchanging files over the Internet. FTP works in the same way as HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) for transferring Web pages from a server to a user's browser and SMTP for transferring electronic mail across the Internet in that, like these technologies, FTP uses the Internet's TCP/IP protocols to enable data transfer. This server is mostly used to download or upload files for other engineers without using email or sharing.
MKS does not have an intranet or extranet. This is the first company I have worked for that does not have such an implementation. This came as a bit of a surprise given the fact that the company employees a total of over 2500 employees. My previous company, Novellus Systems, did have an intranet in place.
MKS uses the Lotus Notes email and database application called a bulletin board to post information that normally would be found on a company intranet. This bulletin board covers a wide variety of areas. Some of these are Holiday Schedule, Vacation Policies, Stock Policies, Health Benefits, Tuition Reimbursement and various Department contact Information. The Lotus Notes email does allow the ability to check and send email over the internet using something called I-Notes. The logon and password is the same as if the user were at their desk logging onto the email system. This allows the user full remote ability to configure, read and send the email from the notes system via internet connection from home.
In closing we examined the networking configuration used at MKS Instruments. The areas covered involved the infrastructure of the network, how it is implemented and how it is used. In addition it covered in detail the use of DHCP Networks, Wireless Networks, IP Classes, FTP servers, Routers, Firewall and a small scale network diagram.
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