IT Network Configuration Setup for SMBs
The Internet might connect the world, but a network configuration helps connect everyone in your business. One of the services offered by Zarr Tech, network configuration is the process of organizing and maintaining information about the components of a computer network.
Networking allows a business to share software and files among computers more easily or use a printer connected to a different computer. A network configuration also allows different computers to access information or other resources stored across the office or remotely.
In general, all networks share similar components, functions, and features. They include:
- Servers: Computers that provide shared resources to others on the network.
- Clients: Computers that access shared network resources.
- Shared data: Files shared by servers across the network.
- Shared printers and other peripherals: Additional resources provided by servers.
- Resources: Any service or device (files, printers, etc) made available for use by others connected to the network.
The most popular network configurations are peer-to-peer networks, server-based networks, and cloud networks.
In a peer-to-peer network configuration, there are no dedicated servers, nor is there a hierarchy between the computers. What that means is that each computer functions as both a client and server and the user at each computer decides what data is shared on the network. A peer-to-peer network is popular in small businesses with 10 or fewer computers.
Businesses that use more than 10 computers have a network configuration with a dedicated server. A dedicated server functions as a server and is not used as a client or workstation. Server-based networks are the standard models for networking.
The evolution of computing and wireless technology has given rise to cloud networks. Cloud networking (or simply cloud computing) is a metaphor for the Internet; instead of storing and accessing data and programs from a server or a computer hard drive, you access it over the Internet. The only thing the user’s computer needs to be able to run is the cloud computing system’s software. Most people already have experience with cloud computing; for instance, a web-based e-mail service (Gmail, Hotmail) runs remotely on the Internet and not your computer.
That said, every small- and medium-sized business is unique and the business computer network can be designed to meet the needs of each business.
What to Consider When Setting up a Small Business IT Network
A small business might be physically small, but a small business network setup is more likely to involve high-speed connections and the same technology used by big businesses. While this new network design technology brings significantly added firepower it can also lead to equally sized headaches if the network isn’t properly designed, installed, and maintained.
Below is a list of four suggestions small businesses should consider when setting up their new computer network configuration:
- Needs: When it comes to a small business network design, it’s important that brands take the time at the outset to determine what they want their network to accomplish. Do you want your business network to link up computers locally or do you want to provide remote access as well? Will applications and data be shared from a central server, shared in a peer-to-peer fashion, or used remotely? Understanding what you want your network setup to accomplish will help you better determine your networking needs.
- Budget: It’s better to have a network configuration that you need than one you want; that’s why it’s important for small businesses to establish a network setup cost. Not knowing how much you are going to spend on networking hardware like routers, switches, Wi-Fi hotspots, cabling, and firewalls could translate into buying the wrong hardware or getting hardware that doesn’t work with pre-existing infrastructure. Buying all the hardware for the biggest backup system isn’t going to do much good if there isn’t enough money to cover the costs to install, operate, and maintain it.
- Security: Network configuration systems are only as secure as the encryption protecting it. It’s important for small businesses to establish their security needs at the outset; that includes making sure you have software to block spam, unwanted advertisements, and malware from entering your network and infecting your data. Outsourcing network setup and maintenance support ensures all operating system software and user applications are fully patched and updated. Small businesses also want to make sure that important systems that are part of the network are physically secured in a locked room.
- Maintenance: It’s one thing for a small business in Mississauga to outsource their IT network configuration, but it’s another to make sure their computer networks are being maintained and operating effectively and efficiently. Unfortunately, network maintenance can take a lot of time and knowhow. It’s better for small businesses to outsource their network setup to a single company that can take the process from the initial design stage to implementation, upgrades, and support.
Advantages of Setting up an IT Network
If your small business uses more than a handful of computers and printers, it’s time to install a computer network. Computer networks help facilitate better communication and collaboration between employees, use of resources, centralized backups, stability, and security.
File sharing: Networks allow employees to share printers, files, and data; this means you need to purchase just one printer and staff work can be more easily delegated. Computer networks also make data backup easier, more reliable, and cost-effective. A cloud network allows for a shared Internet connection, giving you control over Internet access with a firewall, protecting your business and data.
Internet sharing: If your small business has Internet access, setting up a local area network (LAN) allows the entire office to access the Internet at once. Everyone can exchange messages and do research. It also allows the business to monitor business development.
Resource sharing: A small business computer network is great for sharing printers, faxes, and scanners across the network. Networks also make it easier for employees to share information and collaborate on work. Computer networks can help speed up project delivery and enhance creativity.
Security: Networks can be set up in such a way that employees only have access to resources relevant to their job function. In addition, employees can log in at any workstation and carry on with their work. Depending on the small business network design, if you’re installing a cloud network, staff can also log in remotely, enhancing productivity and minimizing downtown.