One of the many facets of growing a business is managing technology infrastructure. Your business’ computer network will face challenges as you bring on more employees, expand to new locations, and add new devices. A business with a haphazardly constructed computer network will suffer in terms of productivity and accumulated cost in replacing devices. Likewise, a well-planned network will support business productivity. This article will guide you on how to conceptualize your business computer network, develop systems to maintain it, and implement tools to understand its growth and struggles.
Gain an Understanding of Basic Network Architecture Types
Most internet users are familiar with their
basic home networks. These are typically simple LANs (local area networks) controlled by a single network router. All of the networked devices in a home will connect to that router for access to the network. Many devices likely connect wirelessly, others may use an ethernet cable to directly plug into the router. The basic architecture is many devices linked to one router which in turn links to the Internet.
A business network follows the same principles, but is more complex in its execution. In order to serve many more devices than a home network, a business network will have multiple routers, creating linked LANs across a large building. Once a business extends to multiple buildings, a campus network can be created, keeping all of the buildings linked in the system. Should a business expand to different locations, a WAN (wide area network) can be created to link the locations together. All of these architectures face the same basic challenge; as your business grows and more device are added to the network, more bandwidth is required to effectively serve them. As bandwidth is added, the network needs to be evenly distributed among all devices in use. Therefore each of these architecture types require planning and maintenance to function optimally.
Create Processes to Maintain the Network
Any type of network requires regular maintenance to ensure performance. Your business will need a process to follow to manage network maintenance, this is also known as
qa or quality assurance. This process needs to cover three basics. First, you need a complete list of network devices. This includes computers, servers, and the routers they rely on for networking. Second, you will need a visual map of how these devices are linked to each other. This will give you a clear indication of how many devices are connected to each of your routers. The map will also indicate dependencies in your network architecture; you will know which systems rely on other systems to function. Third, create a schedule to review and upkeep these devices. Older devices are more prone to malfunction or may become obsolete as their bandwidth no longer meets the needs of your business. Regular checkups on these devices will ensure they are functioning and meeting your needs.
Leverage Industry Tools to Conduct Analyses and Provide Insights
Network maintenance is a necessary but complex and involved task. Given its complexities and time-consuming nature to modify, people have developed automated tools to help collect data and generate insights on business networks. You may have heard of one called NetFlow.
What is NetFlow, you might ask? NetFlow is a network traffic analysis tool. When installed in your network, it measures the flow of network traffic, then outputs data on how the network is being used. IT professionals can use that data to generate insights on how to improve the network to best serve your business. These insights include basic network monitoring, network planning, and security analysis.
Your business’ computer network is an invaluable piece of infrastructure. It requires proper maintenance and upkeep in order to continue as an asset to your business. The better you understand how your business network is shaped and what technology it relies on, the better maintenance you can provide. That maintenance needs to be regular, planned, and systematic. Tools like NetFlow can make your planned upkeep easier and simpler as an automated system delivers meaningful data on your network’s health and performance. Your well-maintained network will support one of the most important aspects of your business; the ability for your people to provide their best possible work.