Business networking is essential to solve the needs for internal information communication and privacy. While along with the increasing development of technology and the growth of businesses as time goes on, small and medium-sized businesses might confront the problem of implementing a network upgrade to comedy the insufficiency of the current networking infrastructure, because it is hard to meet the growing requirements on the network. Today, we try to provide some useful information that helps understand the basics of networking and know what to do before your actual upgrade on the old networking infrastructure.
What is Business Networking?
Networking has a broad definition. Simply put, a business network is meant for connecting two or more computers via wired cable or wireless connection to achieve data transmission and resource sharing among network devices. In this way, data can be transmitted to target devices logically and accurately, businesses can gain numerous benefits, including greater performance, improved productivity, and better collaboration, and so on. So to speak, the truth is that no existence of businesses without a network. LAN(Local Area Network) and WLAN(Wireless Area Network) are two common types of networks that come into play for SMBs.
Key Components of Business Networking
Building a business’s networking infrastructure is not simple work, and generally, the component of the networking mainly consists of three network devices:
l Router-It is a commonly used device with which we are familiar relatively. It is mainly utilized to connect multiple networks and provide a path to allow connected network devices to access the Internet.
l Network Switch-An important device enables all the devices, such as printers, servers, computers, IP cameras and other IoT devices to be connected within LAN through cables for data communication and share. It makes great use to enhance network performance and security, and maintain business continuity.
l Wireless Access Point-Effective solution to assist businesses to reach WiFi coverage for a certain range with higher stability by Ethernet cabling. It gives mobility and convenience for business staff and customers to use mobile devices like tablets, laptops, and smartphones.
Reasons for SMB to Upgrade Network
From what was mentioned in the beginning, basically, because of the unmatched supply and demand results in the need for an effective upgrade to the existing networking infrastructure. In fact, the reasons for small and medium-sized businesses to upgrade their network are multifarious according to specific applications. Let’s get a closer look into why SMBs call for upgrade networks.
- Out-of-date Network Devices
Some businesses built their networking infrastructure in the earlier period, naturally, the network devices fit that period well but not for this period that technologies have been updated and along with constant products iteration. And in most cases, businesses start from small businesses, which tend to use consumer-grade products to build their network. Out-of-date network devices can be reluctantly accepted, but the network may not be enough to serve new applications or extensive requirements, especially when distinct operation delays or network failures occur frequently. The takeaway is that if it has been five years for the network device not been checked or upgraded, a network upgrade is imperative considering from the long run.
- Expanding Businesses
In the growth of businesses, employee expansion is the most common thing, and having more people means increasing data being generated, which eventually involves issues of data storage and management. Moreover, expanded employees also indicate more network devices integrated into the network. Besides, some emerging network devices may be added due to businesses wanting to get more features or advanced capabilities. Moreover, sometimes a change in direction can be a reason to upgrade networking infrastructure to achieve the goals.
- Emphasis Network Security
With the spread of cyber attacks in this modern society, the old network built previously tends to be more vulnerable and is barely strong enough to against the damages. A growing business should have known the importance of network security and desire a network with a higher level of security.
Common Demands in SMB Network Upgrades
No business has the same needs, and there are various demands in the network upgrading for small and medium-sized businesses. In the following, we walk through some common requirements of businesses to keep up with the speed and quality of their network, which is extremely important for maintaining the growth of businesses.
Expand Network Port
Network port expansion is one of the most common demands in SMB network upgrades. Because it is bound to get more and more network devices to be added to the current network with the growth of the above-mentioned business expansion.
Except for the required devices like computers as the expansion of employees, IP surveillance systems, video conferencing, and VoIP phones, wireless access points are widely applied to improve the security, efficiency, and flexibility of businesses. In addition, small and medium-sized businesses focus more on the trend of the Internet of Things(IoTs), network devices such as smart door locks or doorbells or other similar devices designed to offer great automation and security to businesses are the creations under the trend of IoTs.
In a nutshell, the more network device means the more network ports are required to some extent as these devices adopt Ethernet cabling by plugging into network ports to function. Actually, it does come with different ways to help get more network ports for the installation of new network devices. Network switches are probably to be utilized frequently supplying network ports for edge network devices. Therefore, the simplest way is to add more network switches at proper locations that can connect as many network devices as possible without affecting the performance of connectivity.
Improve Network Bandwidth
Large bandwidth is the premise to ensure smooth data transmission of the network. Bandwidth is a standard to measure the speed of the data to be transmitted via a wired or wireless connection. Generally, low bandwidth means a slow connection that has a high potential to encounter network congestion or delay, which might result in low productivity or poor customer experience. Getting larger network bandwidth is an effective way to solve these issues.
Why does your business network consume more bandwidth? Several facets matter indeed. The increasing network users, connected network devices, and the improvements of new applications. Below we illustrate how the improvements determine the network upgrade on bandwidth.
- HD IP Cameras
IP cameras have been widely used to set up effective IP surveillance for business property protection and daily activities monitoring. IP cameras, unlike traditional CCTV cameras that adopt analog technology, provide high-quality HD images to capture clearer details and are integrated with more advanced features. The HD IP cameras, accordingly, require high bandwidth to process video streaming. If the connection for the IP surveillance system lacks sufficient bandwidth, the performance definitely can’t be guaranteed, leading to issues like low-quality footage, video frame drop, slow video streaming, etc. HD IP cameras support 1080p, 3/4/5MP, and the state-of-the-art 4K definition. Generally speaking, the higher definition requires a larger bandwidth to ensure sharp video image and smooth video streaming.
- WiFi 6 WAPs
As we talked about above, wireless access points are useful for addressing WiFi coverage of small and medium-sized businesses. WiFi technology has stepped forward to the newest standard: WiFi 6. It is meant for meeting the demands for scale and speed of WiFi-based applications. WiFi 6 WAPs are a fair choice to achieve top-notch WiFi access thanks to the improvements in the number of connecting devices, and the speed of the connection. WiFi 6 WAPs support more network devices and faster connections for up to 2.5G, which provides better performance for WiFi networks. For businesses that desire to take advantage of WiFi 6, enhancing network bandwidth is fundamental and necessary. Gigabit network connections are the least requirement to fit the need for fast WiFi access.
- 10 Gigabit Ethernet & Fiber Optic Connectivity
These days, the demand for higher bandwidth can reach 10 Gigabit connections for demanding businesses that pay high attention to network speed as a little bit slower may cause costly loss. 10 Gigabit Ethernet connection is available by employing expensive network switches that are specially designed. However, it’s commonplace to make use of fiber optic connectivity as the backbone to realize a 10 Gigabit or even higher network. Fiber optic connectivity uses fiber optic cable as cabling media, which transmits data through light, in a much faster and safer way. This is the major difference compared to copper-based Ethernet cabling.
Related article: PoE vs. Fiber Which is the Best Solution for SMB Networks
Reach Long Range Transmission
Business expansion can’t ignore the straightforward reflection is the larger scale and size of the business’s property, such as new office rooms, new buildings, new warehouses, and so on. That being said, the network upgrade probably involves long range deployment of network devices.
Simply, it is about the distance when some devices need to be installed in the new workplaces under the same network. However, long range transmission of Ethernet cabling is not an easy job as the issue should take Ethernet cable transmission distance limitation into account. In general, Ethernet cable can only reach a maximum of 100 meters(328ft.) transmission distance because of power loss and signal degradation. The connection won’t make sense once beyond the range.
Luckily, it’s not impossible to overcome the difficulty. There are useful solutions that help extend the transmission range of Ethernet connections. Ethernet extension devices are designed to deal with the long range transmission issue for network devices ready to install a bit far from the main network.
Simplify Network Management
Since the network tends to contain more network users and network devices with the expansion of businesses, consequently, it creates a larger network that asks for specialized management, and it’s better to manage in a simplified way. Consistent and real-time management of networks shows lots of benefits. For instance, networks under proper management usually provides greater performance as resource like bandwidth can get optimal utilization. What’s more, for businesses that consist of different departments to take responsibility for different job duties, managing the network with rational segments can well clear and define the authority of access for specific data. Obviously, in the growing business’s networking upgrades, it is a significant demand to simplify network management.
Enhance Network Security
The importance of network security has been demonstrated earlier. As a matter of fact, cyber threats or attacks occur constantly and generated severe damage to SMBs. Thus more and more SMBs think network security is highly important, and call for enhancement to the current network to protect the business’s operation from fatal harm or reduce costly downtime. Network failures or cyber attacks are hard to prevent, it is wise to make the network integrate with the capability of redundancy and fast recovery, which are useful protection mechanisms after the occurrence of damage.
Additional Considerations of Network Upgrades
The network upgrade is not a common thing in the growth of SMBs, it is supposed to be sophisticated. And certainly, an efficient, secure, and scalable network is the goal of effective network upgrades. To make it come into reality, a number of additional considerations might give some help.
Upgrade Hardware instead of Software
The principle to obtain effective upgrades is that it’s no bother to spend time on software upgrading as practically, the hardware should be equipped with the most proper software. Hence when network problems happen and it’s advisable to mainly focus on hardware upgrade, buy a new one with the proper software to get the best performance instead of fixing the old-fashioned one with useless attempts.
Shift to Ethernet Cabling
Business networking can be wired or wireless connection. Most small businesses adopt wireless connections to get the devices connected to the Internet and share resources with each other. But businesses that only rely on WiFi network reveals the big problem of unstable network operation, especially increased with the expansion of businesses. WiFi networks can only support a limited range and suffer from interference easily.
For businesses aiming to get stable connections for smooth and secure data transmission, Ethernet cabling is a good alternative. Ethernet cabling makes a network built with less investment on hardware and experienced less maintenance.
Some small businesses want to stick with wireless connection due to its convenience and flexibility, to meet this specific need, it is opted for them to upgrade the network to a hybrid type, which combines both wired Ethernet cabling and wireless transmission.
Employ Power over Ethernet(PoE)
To own an advanced networking that fits modern businesses, Power over Ethernet(PoE) technology is another investment worth considering. PoE technology offers outstanding advantages in cabling and installation. Actually, using PoE is a not fresh thing in the application of business networking.
- PoE Brief Introduction
PoE enables twisted pairs of Ethernet cables to carry power. In other words, it provides a new way to supply power and network for the edge network devices. With PoE cabling, power and network are transmitted simultaneously through a single cable. The extra power outlets needed in the traditional setup can be eliminated. This ease installation with great flexibility for the reason that the placement of the network device won’t be restricted to the lack of a dedicated power outlet present nearby. And the cost of cabling is able to reduce to some degree.
- PoE-compliant Applications
PoE is a relatively mature technology, there are all kinds of PoE-compliant applications made and easily found in the market, and the most commonly seen network devices include PoE cameras, PoE VoIP phones, and PoE WAPs, etc. These applications can work compatibly with PoE-enabled power sourcing equipment(PSE) like PoE switches, or PoE injectors. And the network devices that are powered by PoE PSE are called powered devices(PDs).
- High Power PoE+/PoE++
Network devices vary in power consumption, namely, they need a different power supplies to be powered. And PoE technology is designed to comply with IEEE802.3 PoE standards, including the basic IEEE802.3af standard that serves up to 12.95 W output wattage after taking out the loss in line, meeting most low voltage applications.
For devices that require high power to ensure stable performance, PoE+/PoE++ need to be considered. PoE+ refers to IEEE802.3at PoE standard that gives a maximum of 25.5 W actual output power. And PoE++ is the ultra standard by now, that is IEEE802.3bt PoE standard, it supplies 71.3 W max. output power to satisfy power-hungry network devices, like PTZ cameras with heaters, outdoor WiFi 6 access points, POS system, thin clients, smart LED lights and other devices that consume high power.
- Implement Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is relative to on-premise computing. Cloud computing is an advanced concept for store and manage business networking data. Cloud-based storage can reduce many hassles for businesses and increase productivity dramatically, especially for those who tend to build a lean IT team with reduced investment. Cloud computing means a network stored and managed in the cloud, or online. This shows the great advantage of network backup even though unexpected disasters take place. Cloud computing is the trend for qualified networks, the only limitation would be its high investment in the startup phase and future maintenance needs.
How to Upgrade Business Network?
Upgrading small and medium-sized network is complex work that requires a necessity of planning. A planned network upgrade can help save money and time, and be flexible and scalable. We sum up the process into four phases: requirement gathering; network devices selection and purchase; practical implementation; and schedule and review of upgrades.
Because every business has its unique needs pertaining to a network upgrades. It is crucial to have a review of the current network and confirm the requirements according to the budget and practical conditions so as to make the new network step to a new level with the least effort but high performance. The upgrade should have an optimal utilization of the original network devices to save money and reduce downtime.
Why not think about questions like, how many users and network devices need to be connected to the network? How much bandwidth can satisfy the needs of network speed for employees and customers? What scale of my growing businesses and will I require long range deployment for network devices? What management and security level on the network can meet the needs? And if you decide to employ PoE technology, it is important to consider compatibility issues, for example, you should know the needed power of network devices and how much power provided from PoE switches or other PSE is sufficient.
Network Devises Selection and Purchase
Having known the requirements of the network upgrade, it is supposed to have a rough idea of what equipment or solutions can help accomplish the work. The next critical step is to tackle the issue of picking up the best-suited network devices.
Virtually, the router and the network switch are the two main network devices involved to upgrade networking. That said, it basically concerns how to choose the right routers and network switches. For proper and effective purchasing, essentially, there are some tactics to follow.
1. Get rid of consumer-grade products, and turn to business-grade types.
Business-grade routers and network switches although look similar to the consumer-grade, actually, they are professional version with many built-in advanced features for greater performance or security. Certainly, those classified as business-grade costs much more than the consumer-grade.
2. Embrace products come in good quality.
The routers or network switches are not network devices that tend to be replaced frequently, on the contrary, they are generally used for quite a long time. For that reason, the quality of products is fundamental to reaching this goal. Never try to choose the no-branding products for the sake of their appealing low pricing. Or you may face the trouble with frequent maintenance or replacement, and even have high risks of fire hazards.
3. Think about the provision of the future if possible.
Similarly, the router and network switches might use for years. If you think the functions or capacity of the products can help save money and get easy expansion or upgrades without a complicated change on the networking infrastructure. For instance, buying network switches with extra ports allow you to add network devices or new network switches flexibly and simply by plugging into the network port with an Ethernet cable. But keep in mind that it is not recommended to reserve too many ports as you know the network switches are doomed to be replaced eventually.
The purchase of a router is relatively simple. Try to equip with the state-of-the-art type. Business-grade type is one facet to consider, and if possible, 802.11n routers are worth an investment.
Network switches do not come in different types including PoE network switches and the normal network switches based on their difference in PoE accessing. Network switches vary from types in line with their features and how they meet different demands for specific businesses. Below we list some typical types of network switches that are widely applied in practice.
- Unmanaged Switches
Unmanaged network switches are the basic type that enables network port expansion with simple plug and plug installation. They are cheap for small businesses to afford. It is universal choice for small businesses asks for the basic connection of network devices due to its simplicity.
- Managed Switches
Managed switches is corresponding to unmanaged switches. Managed switches are designed to give IT managers or users the most control of the network through customized configurations. With proper configurations, it is able to get optimal performance, real-time monitoring and troubleshooting from remote, accurate access to specific data, and protective mechanism like redundancy. Managed switches are expensive because of their advanced features, and they generally require dedicated IT staff to install and manage.
Related Article: Unmanaged or Managed Switches, Which to Choose for SMB Network
- PoE Powered Switches
PoE powered switches can be regarded as a special type of PoE switches that come with PoE capability. PoE powered switches, also called PoE passthrough switches, they can receive PoE from high power PoE switches or PoE injectors, and passthrough to the edge devices. Unlike the traditional types, the power outlet for the switches can be saved. It is a perfect solution to get the network port expanded by reusing one of the on-wall network ports. It offers great flexibility on installation, but due to the limited power of PoE, it can only support a maximum of 71W remaining power for the connected edge devices.
- Long Range PoE Switches
We mentioned previously that long range transmission between PSE and the edge devices needs help from Ethernet extension tools. PoE extenders are the most common option. But if you plan to use new a PoE switch for connecting multiple devices, which are installed at close or far points, the long range PoE switch is the superior choice. Long range PoE switches, as their name implies, support long range PoE transmission despite the limitation of 100 meters and reach 500 meters range easily. Some long range PoE switches even consider the network speed, Fastcabling’s long range PoE switches provide 100Mbps network speed after 300 meters run, which can serve 4K IP camera well.
- High Power PoE Switches
High power PoE switches can address effective connection for power hungry network devices, like PTZ cameras with heater, outdoor WiFi 6 access points, and LED lighting. Most PoE switches can only support 30W max. Output power, while high power switches equipped with IEEE802.3bt compliant ports to grant up to 90W power wattage. Some support common 30W and 60W PoE ports in one unit.
Implementation for practical scenarios is an essential part of the network upgrade. It’s important to grasp the use of each piece of equipment and the proper connection among each component. Cabling is an important job for a successful installation. Use high quality cable and take some protective measures to the cable in case of physical damage in the long-term use, especially when determined to bury it underground. For outdoor deployments, it is significant to consider other physical elements that may trigger threats to the stable operation, such as surges, rains, extreme temperatures, etc.
Schedule and Review of Upgrade
To ensure the efficiency and security of your business network to keep growth, the network upgrade should be under scheduled for a certain period, every five years should implement an estimation or upgrade. More importantly, a considerate review of a new upgrades can help find problems to get an immediate settlement.
Sound networking for SMB can’t blink the function of an effective network upgrade. Network upgrade involves many phrases and you should know the actual demands and find suitable solutions. This post only shows the basic information before upgrading the network, if you have a further request or are still confused about the above information, Fastcabling’s dedicated support team welcome your contact.