IT Guide: Understanding Small Business Network Components
Why You Should Replace Your All In One Device
Small business network components should be compromised of equipment suitable to the job. All in one modems supplied by Internet Service Providers (ISP) are insufficient for business today.
All in one devices are a modem, a router, a switch, and WiFi all crammed into one box, using low quality components.
This gives you just enough technology to get online with, or get away with, but not enough to function well or optimally.
For good or optimal network performance, each component inside an all in one device should be a separate, more powerful device.
Here is a list of basic network components.
A modem from your ISP. Enables your business to access the internet. All other features should be disabled to allow the more powerful business class device to perform in lieu of the all in one device.
A router is what shares an internet connection with multiple people. A dedicated router has more powerful range and features to improve internet connectivity for teams.
Power Over Ethernet (PoE) Switch / Network Switch
A PoE switch is what your cables plug into to allow power to various network components. Your switch size depends on the size of your network and how many components you require. Common switch sizes are 8 port, 16 port and 24 port switches.
A second switch may be used to power secondary components not directly related to the primary network, such as VoIP telephones. An alternative would be multiple cables running back to the main wiring closet in your office, and this is preferred from a technical standpoint, but from an aesthetic standpoint, a single cable connected to a secondary switch may be preferred.
Every network design is different. Your IT Consultant will guide you based on your team size, office size and layout, availability of cable drops, and technology needs.
WiFi Access Points
These are used to extend WiFi signal in an office, beyond the limits of what an all in one device can offer. is the two access points (UAP-AC-Pro), you would not be able to cover a space as large as the new one is using your Bell all-in-one modem.
A firewall is an IT security device which filters incoming and outgoing network traffic for cyber threats, and stops threats from reaching your network. A firewall is just one layer of good IT Security, and multiple layers are needed to screen for and prevent various types of internal and external cybersecurity threats.
The images below conceptualize how your emails and info interact with the internet with and without a firewall.
Rack or Wall Mount
Network components should be stored in a manner that prevents or limits damage from dust, flood, overheating etc. Networking equipment should be stored in a cool, well ventilated room, and be kept off the floor. There are endless models of network and server racks as well as wall mounted racks to house network and server equipment. Your IT consultant can guide you based on your space and technology.
Uninterrupted Power Supply
To limit the risk of hardware damage caused by power surges, power failures or rolling power / brown outs, all your critical network components and servers should be plugged in to an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) with Automatic Voltage Regulation (AVR), not directly into a wall outlet.
AVR technology will boost or reduce power to your devices as needed, which helps to reduce associated hardware failure.
The cost for a good UPS can range from $250-400 and is a good investment to protect your technology. The CyberPower CP850AVR LCD Intelligent UPS System is a good model, and something similar will likely work well. You can search Amazon or your local Staples store for a UPS with AVR to find several models. Invest in a good quality unit, or ask your IT Consultant for a recommendation.
The above components are considered the basics for small and mid size business today.
Your business may also require:
- a Network Attached Storage (NAS) Device
- a server
- a local backup drive (an external hard drive or a NAS can be used, however an extra layer of offsite or cloud backup is always recommended in case the local drive is lost or damaged)
- additional cloud based cyber security software which filter for various types of threats
- components to facilitate Disaster Recovery
- network printers, scanners, workstations, business phones and end user devices to suit your needs
The goal should be to put in adequate components to allow your business a stable and secure connection to do business with, and to choose components that can allow for scaling as you grow.
TUCU is an IT Support Company in Toronto Ontario. We offer free IT Guides to help you understand technology.
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