Designing a network to fit your company’s needs can be tough. It doesn’t matter if your business is big or small. Just because one setup works for a company, doesn’t mean it’s the right setup for yours. Getting it wrong can cause a series of very expensive, time-consuming fixes that your company likely can ill afford. Getting it right can make you look like the Don Juan of information technology.
Multiple steps must be taken in order to successfully design a network. Whether you’re looking to upgrade or you have eyes set on starting a company with the perfect network to serve it, let’s get you going in the right direction!
Steps Toward a Great Network Design That Serves Your Company Flawlessly
This may seem like a daunting task. So let’s look at network design as a common-sense, step-by-step process.
1. Defining Your Needs
First things first: What is your purpose? Are you a mid-sized manufacturing company? Or are you a storefront linked to an online store? With your goal in mind, you can start to compile ideas for your network design.
2. Do I Need a Server?
Different operations call for different applications. Chances are, you don’t need for a server if you’re only running one or two smaller programs. However, applications aren’t the only deciding factor when it comes to needing a server. Knowing what exactly a server can do can also help determine the need for one.
Yes, you read that right. Actually, draw your network out. Not sure how to get started? Check out this simple network layout.
Now that you have a rough idea as to what it will look like, let’s go over what it all means. Starting with the Internet. The Internet is obviously the sweet nectar that you are trying to get from all this mess. The rest is how you get there. You can’t reach the internet without a modem from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). To be able to use your modem, you need to have a router. Your router is what creates your network, its handles your IP Address range, it can handle your DHCP (what gives out IP Addresses), you can configure a Virtual Private Network (VPN), set up a wireless network. After the router is your switch. We could get into the logistics of switches and hubs but we’ll save that for a rainy day. A switch’s main function is to allow multiple connections (ethernet cables) to connect to your network (hardwired) while maintaining the maximum speed you have got. The rest is explanatory. The PCs are your computers, the server is your server if you have one. The printer is…well, your printer. Finally, the black lines are what tie it all together, cables. Each line represents a cable running to your switch to access the network.
5. Start Shopping
Alright, you have the layout you want/need, and it’s time to start shopping. Unfortunately, this isn’t like a trip to the mall for a new Nike polo. You can’t try on the equipment before you buy it. DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!! It’s always recommended to get a professional opinion if you aren’t sure exactly what will fit your needs. If you feel confident you have the specs you need but just need to price shop for the best deals, check out these resellers.
6. Setup Like a Pro
Disclaimer: Your devices will need to be configured for your network. They are not plug-and-play devices.
This is where things can get tricky. Refer back to your network layout. In the example given, you can see that it all starts with the modem provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). From there we need to connect that to your router. From the router, you will connect your Local Area Network (LAN) port to your switch. From there, it’s simple. Run cable to all the locations where there is either a server, printer (if it’s a network printer) or a workstation.
Great! Now You’re Ready to Start Building a Great Network
Designing a network on your own can be a little much to handle. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, get some quotes and pick the brains of consultants while you can. (P.S. – I know a few good ones!)