Moving to a new office? Here are four critical decisions to make around your new network:
1) Internet services
This may seem simple but this is often where people make the biggest mistakes. With the advent of more and more cloud services, Internet service has become one of the lifelines of every small business. Email, backups, hosted applications and even your voice communications are now all running over this connection.
It is absolutely critical to get assistance from an IT professional when making this decision. There are so many options, vendors and technical speak surrounding this solution that it can be overwhelming. What type of applications, the amount of users, type of phone system and projected growth all need to be considered before deciding on the type of service required.
Not having enough bandwidth can really disrupt your business and cost you more in lost productivity than getting the right connection up front. Also, another gotcha is the time required for install. We commonly see installation delays of 60-90 days for a new fiber connection. This needs to be one of the first decisions you make when moving to a new location.
2) Cabling vs Wireless
Once you have the lease signed and you have a floor plan, you need to meet with a cabling installer. A common mistake I see with some startups is that they choose to skip this step thinking they will do everything wirelessly. Yes, we live in an age where everything can be wireless.
My recommendation is to not assume that wireless is always better. We still recommend running a cable to every office/workstation. Cabling is and for the foreseeable future will be faster, more reliable and more stable connections.
Also, you may choose to put a phone on a desk and these will always perform better wired. Printers are often less problematic cabled rather than wireless.
Lastly, a wireless network actually requires cabling. For us to get full wireless coverage across a network we have to run cables in the ceiling and plan to install wireless access points which will extend the network throughout the office.
This is where businesses can get lost in technical jargon. A switch is the backbone of your network and is where all devices connect and share information. There are hundreds of types with all varying types of technical specifications. Don’t buy switches without consulting an IT professional.
The amount of devices on the network need to be taken into account as well future growth. People often underestimate the number of devices that will connect to a network. There is also a huge difference between the switch you might buy at local retailer versus one we would recommend. The right switch can power your phones, wireless access points and ensure that all the data flows smoothly and quickly through your network.
Think security! This device is the cornerstone of protection on your network. The right device will help secure your data, protect your Internet usage and allow remote connections as necessary. Just like switches, there are consumer versions of firewalls that you can find at your local retailer which we would strongly recommend against.
Most of these devices you see in a store are designed for protecting a small home or office network and will come up short in a business setting. A professional grade firewall will add additional security features, reporting, updates and automatic backups that will help keep your network safe and stable.
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Bill McCharen, COO
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