What Do You Need to Know about Setting up Your SMBs Network?
One of the priorities for anyone setting up an office in 2023 is to provide a reliable computer network with an internet connection. Almost all communication, cooperation, and even work in an office occur online. Therefore, it’s impossible to set up a workflow without previously tending to your SMBs network.
Setting up your network is also a question of customizability, security, and efficiency. In other words, it’s an integral part of your business model. With that in mind and without further ado, here’s what you need to know about setting up your SMBs network.
You first need to purchase all the hardware you’ll need to set up this network. Here, there are a few principles that you should pay close attention to.
- All the gear you invest in (modem, routers, switches) must be business grade.
- Second, you need to ensure that it’s highly scalable. This way, once your business grows, your hardware will be able to pick up.
- Third, pick equipment that’s easy to install and simple to manage. Waiting for tech support is not the simplest way to handle this.
- Lastly, aim for as high reliability as possible.
Getting familiar with hardware technology behind your network’s hardware can also help quite a bit. For instance, you need to understand what is a coaxial cable to avoid getting confused by this simple term.
Now that we’ve gotten this, let’s see what hardware you need.
A modem (abbreviation for modulator-demodulator) is a device that connects your devices to the internet. The most conventional ones are DOCSIS (data over cable service interface specification), which uses fiber-coaxial cables.
It’s also worth mentioning that traditional modems are becoming obsolete with the development of fiber internet. Your objectives are to:
- Find a modem that works with your ISP
- Ensure that they can support your internet plan
- Figure out if you want a gateway or a separate modem and router
While some may also suggest that you should consider the number of ethernet ports in question, the truth is that, for an SMB network, you’ll have to get a router either way. Speaking of which…
Most internet providers will give you a free router as a package deal. Sadly, these routers are often not best for office use. In other words, you’ll probably have to get an extra router either way.
Before selecting a router, list all the devices on your network. Start with the big ones – how many desktop and laptop computers are on the network? Next, try to count all the tablets, smartphones, network printers, IP cameras, etc. It’s also a good idea to give some leeway for guest devices.
It is also a good idea to set a separate SSID for guests for security reasons. This way, you give people access to the internet without giving them actual access to your network. The level of customization here is quite significant, seeing as how you can assign different authentication, encryptions, and security policies to the system.
One of the things to keep in mind is that multiple overlapping Wi-Fi connections may cause interference. It would be best if you got a dual-band router. This will help you effortlessly avoid interference.
A router connects your network to the internet, while a switch connects different devices to your network. Generally speaking, there are two types of switches that SMBs commonly use:
- Unmanaged switch
- Managed switch
While unmanaged switch devices are simpler and less expensive, some managers prefer the customizability of a managed switch. With the latter, you can configure the switch and control it remotely. This sounds intimidating, but the truth is that it requires a relatively simple procedure.
A switch is nothing more than a sophisticated docking station. Chances are that you’ll need all sorts of docking stations for your office, which is also worth considering.
Next, we come to the issue of cables. Wi-Fi is becoming more dominant, and it’s impossible to imagine a modern workplace without it. However, the ethernet connection is still irreplaceable in most offices. When it comes to cabling, at the very least, you need the following:
- Patch cable
- Patch cord
- LAN cable
Also, bear in mind that cable management is just as important. Keeping these cables in a high-traffic area will increase the tripping risk and the chance of getting damaged. Having lines strung across the wall is unaesthetic, so you should search for a more elegant solution.
It’s also worth mentioning that, with the right router, you might already get a decent firewall. This means that you won’t have to choose and buy one separately. Still, if that’s not the case, here’s what you should look for. More often than not, a hardware firewall will be situated in a router. However, even a computer or dedicated equipment can serve as a firewall.
With the above-listed devices, your SMB network will have all it needs to run. Still, it would help if you never settled for the second best. Therefore, you want to enhance your network with a few additional devices. Some of these devices are:
- Access point
- Patch panel
For instance, an access point (AP) can connect your wireless devices to your network. It’s a hub that allows the devices on the premises to be connected to your LAN. So, if there’s an area where the Wi-Fi doesn’t reach or is not as strong, you can add AP there to fix the problem.
The repeater does a similar thing; however, it’s not as efficient. Instead of creating a new Wi-Fi hotspot, it merely amplifies the signal from the source. On the other hand, an AP creates a new source altogether (in a more convenient spot).
The bottom line is that you need your SMBs network to be reliable and safe. You also want to set a foundation for future growth. Your workload will increase, and you may have to expand your workforce. This means more people in the office but also more devices connected to your network. Planning can drastically reduce potential downtime and ensure your progress is seamless. Also, it doesn’t hurt to get some professional help.