Collaboration essentials for entrepreneurs: the basics of a business-class network
As a small business or startup, you might be making do with a “consumer-class” network. Found most often in homes, they can’t compare to the higher level of security, performance, and reliability in a network that is “business class.”
Fortunately, business-class doesn’t need to be a euphemism for complex. Here are the basic essentials of a network for your small business:
Adequate bandwidth—the capacity available to carry digital data—is necessary for multiple users to simultaneously and quickly access or share digital information without slowing other users’ applications or crashing the network. What kinds of digital information does your business use? A network that moves video, voice, or digital image files requires more bandwidth than a network that just shares document files and a printer. You may also want to allow extra bandwidth for upcoming increases in traffic.
A switch creates a network with your business, called a local area network (LAN). The switch functions as a bridge with ports that connect your digital devices—computers, servers, printers, and wireless access points—so they can talk to each other efficiently. They communicate mostly via ethernet and the Internet Protocol (IP). The top benefits of a business-class switch include higher employee productivity and data security, and lower operating costs.
A router allows multiple employees to share a connection to the outside world, such as the Internet. The top benefits of a business class router are higher security and employee productivity, and the cost savings of a shared network interface.
Wireless Access Points
A wireless network connects digital devices to a router or switch without wires or cables, by using radio waves. Typically, a wireless access point provides the radio signal coverage to be shared by Wi-Fi users. Whereas most Wi-Fi hotspots are for public access, business-class wireless access points can control who has access to the network. Compelling benefits of business-class wireless networking include user mobility, flexibility in locating or expanding a network, lower operating costs, and higher data security.
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