These 5 building blocks will help ensure your network supports your business today and in the future.
If you’re just beginning to build your network for a fledgling small business or you’re expanding the network of a more established smaller company, you should plan your network with an eye toward preparing your business for growth. Your network should be a secure, reliable foundation; one that’s flexible and can adapt to the changing needs of your business as well as give you a competitive edge.
Planning your network with the future in mind will help your company save money, operate more efficiently, and easily add new users and technologies as it grows. Also, the right network foundation will improve your company’s ability to respond more quickly as your business changes as well as help employees collaborate more closely.
When setting up or expanding your network, there are five essential building blocks you should consider:
1. Switches and routers: These are the cornerstone of your network. Switches connect employees inside your business to the resources they need to do their jobs, such as printers, servers, and storage devices. And routers connect your business via the Internet to the outside world—all those with whom you do business, such as customers, suppliers, and partners.
2. Wireless and remote access: If your company has workers who need to work away from their desk or remote locations or employees who work from home or on the road, expanding access beyond the workplace is an important piece of your network. Providing wireless access allows your employees to work from anywhere and with a wider range of devices. Employees can roam the building with laptops and smartphones and never miss an email or web conference and have access to key applications and files. Wireless access also allows you to give Internet access to clients visiting your facility. In addition, remote access via VPNs ensures that your mobile workforce has reliable access to the data they need when they need it, even if they’re working with customers half way around the world.
3. Security: Your assets are your business. To ensure your business is running 24×7, you need to keep your data and physical assets safe. Most smaller businesses start with firewalls and antivirus and antispam solutions to protect the network from malicious activity. To further protect your business from disruption, you can deploy security appliances that provide intrusion detection and intrusion prevention services. And, an IP-based video surveillance system can keep your business safe by protecting against theft as well as reducing the liability of workplace accidents. Finally, look for products that offer additional levels of integrated security, such as switches and access points that keep unauthorized users from accessing your network.
4. Storage: As your electronic data grows, storage is a must-have for ensuring business continuity. Network-attached storage provides an efficient way to centralize, protect, and share information. A NAS solution allows you to automatically back up and archive files so that you don’t lose critical company information in the event of a network outage and is a key component in any disaster recovery plan.
5. Unified Communications: Internet Protocol (IP) technology allows your company to streamline communication and save money by delivering voice and video over your existing data lines. A unified communications (UC) solution that combines your phone, email, text, and web conferencing improves employee efficiency by allowing them to communicate in real time, which provides a key advantage—the ability to deliver outstanding customer service. Answering questions more quickly, providing better information, and being able to communicate from anywhere using almost any device helps strengthen customer relationships, which boosts your bottom line.
Finally, remember to invest in business-class products that are designed specifically for smaller companies like yours. They’ll grow with your business and save you money in the long run.
How has your network contributed to your business’s success?