Designing a Small Business Network: 9 Tips

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1: Make a plan for the software you’ll need.

The software the company will employ is the most crucial factor to consider when creating a small business network. Many firms utilize vertical market software developed for and tailored to the requirements of a particular sector. A doctor’s office may require medical practice management software, whereas a retail store may require point-of-sale software. You must arrange your hardware and networking to satisfy the program’s needs if you wish to use a particular software package for your industry. When choosing software, it’s essential to constantly keep the cost of the equipment needed to support it in mind.

A database server may be necessary for some vertical market software packages, which might only function with a particular kind. You must choose which will meet your budget for hardware, software, and continuing support and maintenance charges if it is compatible with different database servers.

Plan for people, second.

You’ll need to know how many users each piece of software requires. It would be best to consider user licensing, storage needs, network wiring, and the gadgets each employee will need. You must also take your customers’ needs into account. Will they have to use your wireless network or website? Software licensing can be for several concurrent users, per server, per user, per device, or any combination.

3. Make device plans.

How many desktops do you currently and soon need to support? Will you support wireless laptops, tablets, or smartphones? Will you require network fax, scanners, or printers? Planning for network cabling, wireless access points or routers, and network switches requires considering all of these factors.

Plan for telecommuting and remote access.

Use a business-class firewall and VPN access device to host your website on your network or have employees who must securely access sensitive network resources from a distance.

Although it may be done safely, most small firms don’t host their websites. However, doing so may be an intelligent solution for connecting a customer service or business application portal website with other locally stored data. You will unquestionably require the assistance of an expert in this field! You must incorporate extra security measures into your design, deploy a business-class firewall, and implement warnings and monitoring.

5. Whenever feasible, stay away from consumer-grade hardware and software.

Businesses frequently utilize consumer-grade hardware and software, but these products may have limits that cost you more than if you had started with business-class goods. Never use Windows Home versions. They cannot join Microsoft Network Domains and lack the security of Windows Professional editions. Compared to a collection of modest home networking switches, a decent 16 or 24-port business-class network switch will perform better and be more reliable. Business class server hardware can be set up with auto-failover and hot-pluggable disks, a crucial factor to consider for the following issue, topic #6.

6. Establish your system availability needs.

No system will ever experience zero downtime! Many IT executives aspire to achieve five nines or 99.999% system availability. There are just 5.26 minutes of rest allowed annually. It’s a dream, as I stated. High availability also comes at a cost. There are numerous low-cost solutions to include fault tolerance in your network. It would be best if you first balanced the costs of downtime with the costs of preventing it from designing your systems for the availability you require. You must schedule time for maintenance as well. You should be able to plan for most care, which will most likely be done outside of regular office hours. But be prepared for the odd requirement for unplanned maintenance.

Although eliminating every potential point of failure in your network is probably impossible, you can make plans to recover all system components. Although today’s hardware is very dependable, failures do occur. A single employee’s computer falling shouldn’t be a catastrophe if you consolidate all your data storage onto one computer and mandate that employees keep all business data there, especially if you have a spare machine. A fully configured spare will only result in a 10% cost increase for your desktops if you have ten of them. That is less than many maintenance plans and extended warranties combined. Only the hardware is covered by PC warranties. You are in charge of reinstalling all the software and retrieving the data after fixing the damaged hardware. Having a backup PC is wise preparation. Additionally, I advise you to frequently update the disk images you make for each of your PC workstations. If necessary, a photo can be rapidly transferred to a new or repaired PC.

Software difficulties, infections, and accidents are the leading causes of system problems. For systems availability, regular software upgrades and virus protection are essential. Accidents are inevitable. Make daily data backups. The ability to consolidate your data backup system is yet another benefit of centralizing your data storage. This will minimize your data protection costs and improve your backups’ dependability.

7: Record, record, record!

Can you tell that I believe documentation is crucial? You’ll be able to save money, time, and possibly even your business! Cutting down on maintenance and recovery time will help boost the availability of your systems. Have you ever been told not to write your passwords down anywhere? I’ve heard that, among the silliest things I’ve ever heard. You can’t operate, repair, or troubleshoot the system if you don’t know the password or know how to get it back. You can “factory default” various items, but “factory default” means no configuration or data! Keep track of your passwords! Just don’t keep them in the staff lounge’s fridge.

Record as much configuration data as possible and update it if there are system or configuration changes. IP addresses, computer names, user names, software versions, configuration files, screenshots of configurations, vendor maintenance agreements, warranty information, support phone numbers, keep customer and PINs, software licensing documents, and anything else that comes to mind that you might need should all be included in the documentation.

My consumers know I always strive to make it simple for them to fire me! I don’t want it to be too simple. Still, if they have access to extensive documentation and can contact a professional who has never seen their systems, they can have their methods back up and running as soon as feasible.

8: Employ at least one expert!

To assist you in planning and designing your network, choose someone who is knowledgeable about networking and business software. A professional can assist in creating a system that will fulfill your demands right away and be able to expand with your company. When I say, “Use at least one professional,” you could also require a specialist to assist you in setting up your accounting software or other particular company software and providing employee training. While they may be tech-smart, you won’t likely have the skills to plan, develop, install, and configure your network systems. It will help you to keep your IT expenditures low and your systems running if you hire a seasoned networking professional to assist you with your planning, network design, and configuration.

9: Business needs are always prioritized!

While planning and designing systems, technology experts tend to become bogged down in the finer details. The firm must ensure that its demands and requirements are considered at every stage of the planning process. An experienced technology specialist will nag, badger, and possibly even irritate you into assisting them with capacity planning and growth projections. They will ask you to record your company requirements and processes. Once more, the term documentation! They insist on reviewing the plans with you during the planning and project status meetings. The business endeavor is supported by technology. The business constantly takes the initiative in technology!

For further information on Tom Ledford:

Owner Tom Ledford

Tech South Side

The Practical Computer.

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