image sourceDeegan, Maggie. "Puzzle Pieces." 03 April 2009. Flickr.

5 Areas to Consider When Setting Up Your Network Infrastructure

November 26, 2013

The world needs business, and business needs computers, right? Well, an easy majority of businesses do at least. And those businesses can do themselves a huge favor by setting the infrastructure for those computers up in the most effective manner.

In other words, all things that affect the users’ experience within a business need to be set up and maintained properly.  Ensuring the right infrastructure is set in place from the get-go can improve efficiency, save money, and prevent problems down the road.

These are the 5 major areas to consider before setting up your infrastructure:

 

1. User Front-end

User infrastructure’s front-end refers to all things your users will interact with, such as, browsers, desktops, printers, and apps. How many desktops/printers or what types of apps and email solutions you’ll need are decisions that must be made. This will make a huge difference in your day-to-day experience. The hard part is finding the right balance for these items. You won’t want to settle with something that will fail to meet your needs over the long term, or splurge on a solution that is overkill for what you need. We help our clients select front-end equipment that will meet their needs without breaking the bank.

 

2. User Back-end

The back-end of the user infrastructure involves all things that users may not see, but communicate with the front-end and still affect the user experience. File servers, database apps, and email servers are part of the back-end, and are core to your business productivity. Decisions here affect everyone’s experience, and also play a huge role in the network’s reliability and efficiency.  However, they often aren’t though of until someone comes in one morning and the server isn’t available. We help clients avoid these problems; we choose servers and back-end software that will scale to meet their needs, as well as provide reliability and performance to enhance business productivity.

 

3. Network

The network infrastructure refers to network equipment, routers/firewall, switches, and cabling. Cabling is one of the weakest areas we see. Often, companies only install the bare minimum of what they need to have right away, and fail to plan for growth. Spending a little more on cabling to have some extra lines run and outlets installed will cut down on growing pains and headaches in the future. It’s never a good time when someone has moved their desk to a new location, only to find out they have no connections for their phone or computer.

Other network hardware should be scaled to fit your business, and our rule is always to go with the simplest configuration that meets your expected needs. There is no reason to have multiple VLANS, firewall rules, and high end hardware, when some basic high-speed unmanaged switches will meet your need and cut down on troubleshooting. This is where an experienced advisor can help evaluate your needs and make recommendations.

 

4. Security

Security infrastructure includes all programs that can protect your data and network. Antivirus, firewalls, and network security policy are all part of this solution. A private, safe, and consistent network should be the goal for all businesses.  We recommend a layered approach to antivirus, scanning both at the gateway (firewall) level and machine level. We also utilize firewalls which provide robust security features such as intrusion prevention and content filtering. These firewalls keep bad guys out and keep employees from winding up on dangerous, or not-safe-for-work websites.

 

5. Back-up/Continuity

Back-up/continuity infrastructure refers to systems and programs that ensure the recoverability of the data in the network. Misplacing or losing files due to lack of a back-up plan could set you back a full day of work, costing your business time and money.  We recommend a layered approach here as well. We backup both servers and workstations at the file level and use backup imaging, which lets us roll a computer “back in time” to before a virus, corruption, or error occurred. This gives you the fastest way to get back up in the event of a failure, reducing the risk of time and money loss. We also use both local and offsite backups and can help you with a full business continuity plan with redundant internet access.

 

There is quite a bit to consider when setting up these areas of your business. Much of it varies from business to business, depending on the industry, strategy, structure, and size of the business. For instance, some businesses may be smaller and looking for a low-cost strategy, while others may be small-medium transitioning and looking for a strategy with growth in mind. Some may even need custom tailored solutions to create a new and unique infrastructure. We offer a full range of services that can accommodate the setup, maintenance, or re-work of your network’s infrastructure.  We can help with full implementation, or advise on changes to existing networks.  Feel free to contact us with questions or requests.