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Understanding the IT Hardware Needed for Your Small Business Network Setup
Requirements and best practices when it comes to small business network setups are evolving rapidly. Small to midsize businesses are moving many IT functions to the cloud. Cloud-based email, productivity apps, storage, backup, and more offer cost-efficient alternatives to on-premises systems.
Few organizations move everything to the cloud, however. Physical equipment and hardware are still a necessity for small business networks. Most SMBs must keep some IT functions onsite for performance, security, privacy, legal, or regulatory reasons. Additionally, SMBs must ensure that their networks can provide fast, secure access to cloud-based resources and support growing numbers of users and devices.
Setting up a small business network doesn’t have to be complex or mysterious. This guide offers a brief overview of the hardware needed for a small business network.
Start with IT Network Infrastructure Planning
Planning is the critical first step of any IT project. Before implementing your small business network, you should study your office floor plan. The layout of the office’s physical space is a big consideration for your IT network’s infrastructure and will help inform where your equipment will need to be located. If your office doesn’t have cabling, or the network jacks are in the wrong place, you’ll need to partner with a certified cabling provider. Enconnex offers cabling services along with high-quality cables and accessories.
Cabling will also need to be run to support wireless access points (APs). You will need enough APs to provide adequate coverage and capacity for all the mobile devices that need to access the network. Be sure to consider wired and wireless coverage in conference rooms and common areas.
This is a good time to consider all the devices that will need connectivity. While servers, desktops, laptops and mobile devices are obvious, you may also have Voice over IP phones, networked printers, point-of-sale systems, IP video cameras, and more.
Evaluate Business IT Equipment
Your small business network will need three primary categories of equipment. It’s important to choose business-grade solutions — consumer-grade gear won’t provide the performance and features needed to support your business.
Your network will require a router, which connects your Internet service provider and the rest of your network. The router transmits and receives data from the Internet and connects to other devices via an Ethernet switch. You will need a switch with enough ports to support all of your devices. You will also need high-quality APs to provide wireless connectivity.
A firewall is the most essential security component in your network, inspecting Internet traffic and blocking anything malicious. Business-grade routers typically have built-in firewall capabilities, but standalone solutions incorporate unified threat management and other features. If you have remote users, you may need a firewall with virtual private network capabilities.
Compute and Storage
You will need one or more servers to support any business applications that you maintain onsite. A server can also provide centralized storage and backup capabilities, user authentication, and other functions. When selecting a server, numerous variables come into play, so it’s best to consult with a qualified IT provider.
Create the Proper Network Environment
Many SMBs stash IT equipment wherever there’s space. This could be a supply closet, an unused cubicle, or even a corner of the break room. Failing to provide the proper networking environment for your gear can have severe consequences for your business.
IT equipment needs conditioned power and adequate cooling to function correctly. A supply closet won’t have good airflow, and office HVAC systems are often turned off at night, leading to overheating. Equipment should also be secured against accidental or intentional tampering. If equipment is out in the open, someone could step on a network cable or unplug a server.
EdgeRack: Ideal for Your Small Business Network
The Enconnex EdgeRack is an IT environment-in-a-box for all of your computing gear. Power cooling, management, and security are integrated into one enclosure that can be installed virtually anywhere. Get in touch to learn why EdgeRack is the ideal foundation for your small business network.
Posted by Jerod Green on November 3, 2021
Jerod has been in the data center industry for 10 years and has a passion for manufacturing fiber-optic and copper cabling solutions. As Director of Sales for Enconnex, he helps customers select the right solutions and is involved in the design and installation of enterprise-class network infrastructure.