Networking your technology infrastructure within a business environment has turned out to provide the most efficient functioning of an office environment. It is cost-effective, saves on resources [both human and consumables], is flexible and in most cases easily scalable upwards to expand and include a larger number of users.
What are the essentials of network management for a small business? Before that, what are the networking requirements by a small business? Let us find out -
Most business, be they small, medium or large use their computer, information technology networks for basically three main requirements - emails, file sharing and sharing of hardware resources such as printers, scanners and projectors. Additional uses could include centralization of confidential and sensitive information, including product and customer databases made available under controlled authorization measures.
The trick to smart network management lies in identifying your requirements in the short term, say the next 6 months to a year, and then installing a network that will support the said requirements. While some experts opine that just creating a peer-to-peer network is sufficient for a small business, I personally believe that it is essential to have a server installed, in the interests of long-term cost-effectiveness, towards ensuring integrity and safety of data and so on. Also, it is definitely easier to control and maintain a stable network when on a server, rather than through individual computers, particularly when you are fighting faults; let us not even go into a scenario on duplicity of work in case of network attacks, virus infections and so on.
Now that we have it clearly that a server-based network installation works well, let us look at the next optimum step, and that is wireless local area networking as opposed to a wired network. This is especially useful in the case of a small business in that once you have a basic wireless network in place, it does not take much time or consume many resources when you need to scale the network upwards to include more users and to include additional peripherals. You can rearrange your entire network physically and continue to stay connected so long as the participant computers and peripherals are within range of the wireless access points set up to connect them.
Security becomes a major issue in the case of wireless local area networks, and it is indispensably essential to have a strong encryption system. At the moment, Wi-Fi protection access - 2 (or WPA2) is probably the strongest method available for securing access into your networks. Remember, unlike a wired network where each computer is connected by a wire to have access to your network, in a wireless network any computer within range can hack into your system, hence the need for signal encryption methods.
Besides the quintessential uses of a network as described above, if you are maintaining a centralized database on your server, then it is essential to install database management systems. There are database management systems available from Microsoft, Oracle and SQL.
Make provision for backup of all data, and put in place a data recovery program in the eventuality of any disasters.
This is how to manage a small business network, and with reducing costs for hardware it is certainly becoming more affordable to most businesses.