Computer networks are the backbone of, well, basically everything we do today. Be it hard-wired or wireless, businesses and consumers interact with these communications systems every microsecond of the day. In turn, trillions, and that's probably putting it mildly, of transactions are processed in a 24-hour period on a single network.
Growth means investment
As more people and AIs utilize these networks, they have to grow. So, investment is needed. On average, 89% of businesses said their IT budgets will grow in 2019. Out of that, approximately eight percent will be for networking in the form of hardware, software, security, and training.
While additional investment is key, the latest hardware and security will not enhance network performance if the setup was already slow. In fact, it might even be slower for any number of reasons. And this leads to frustrated workers, lost clients, and a decrease in revenue.
To stem this and ensure the infrastructure investments makes sense, here are three things your network needs to be successful.
1. Fiber optics
Though you're building may already be wired with reliable twisted pair cables, it won't help to increase the speed of incoming/outgoing transmissions. Even if the switch permits Gigabit Ethernet (Mbps). That's because the existing infrastructure can't handle it.
Thus, in addition to investing in new hardware, you also need to upgrade to fiber optics. These cables have a number of advantages over twisted pair. For instance, they're less expensive, thinner, and have the carrying capacity to handle Mbps signals. They also use less power and are non-flammable.
Yes, the initial cost of rewiring can be high. However, the return on investment (ROI) will be seen almost immediately in faster transmissions.
Wireless Access Points
Internally, you want both employees and guests to be able to access the internet no matter the device. If they aren't hard-wired into the network, then they need wireless access. Most likely this will be through a secondary network not connected to the internal subnet.
For this to happen, you'll need to invest in Wireless Access Points (WAPs). These squarish boxes are placed in various locations in the office. How many depends on activity and the size of the company.
When activated, WAPs act extensions of the modem's WIFI signal. In turn, employees and guests can access the internet through a secure gateway. Not only does this allow them to send or receive important information it also protects everyone from malicious activity.
3. Security that doesn't drag down performance
Face it, you've had problems in the past where performance of your network was degraded due to your firewall or security software handled risks too well. It's okay to be safe than sorry. Considering there were at least 21 devastating data breaches at companies in 2018.
However, too much tightening can stop even the most innocuous data from being sent or received. In the end, something has to be done. If you can't do it, either due to knowledge gaps or equipment, then it's probably time to bring in a consultant.
Hardware or Software as a Service (HaaS, Saas) companies will look at your current security infrastructure. Then, they'll engage their Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to determine the best course of action to tamp down malicious activity while keeping network speeds at their maximum. This takes the pressure off so you can focus on ways to maintain high performance.
These suggestions aren't to be taken lightly. Nor should they be done by one individual. The safety and performance of your network is a group effort involving all arms of your IT department.
Before anything is done, work together to list the pros and cons of your existing environment. Then, develop a plan and budget that incorporates improvements in transmission and security. Make sure everyone approves of this plan prior to moving it up the management chain.