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Network Infrastructure:

Techopedia defines Network Infrastructure as the hardware and software resources of an entire network that enable network connectivity, communication, operations and management of an enterprise network. It provides the communication path and services between users, processes, applications, services and the internet.

Small businesses need a solid network infrastructure in order to operate efficiently. Bottlenecks can be plentiful in a poorly designed network which cause employee downtime and lost productivity. To ensure the best performance across the entire network and solid connectivity of all devices requires a professionally designed and installed network.

Move from the Fast Lane to the Giga Lane

With the demand placed on a network by an increasing number of server applications, cloud based software, and streaming media – it is necessary to increase the amount of bandwidth available to local users. Depending on how old the wiring is in the building, it is possible that the move to faster network speeds may be easier than expected as most cabling done in the past 10 years is Category 5e which is capable of Gigabit speeds. Gigabit Ethernet delivers performance that is 10 times faster the Fast Ethernet (For example a 1GB file takes less than 15 seconds to transfer across a Gigabit network, as compared to more than 2.5 minutes on a Fast Ethernet network). This speed keep employees from wasted, unproductive twiddling of their thumbs while waiting for files and programs to load across the network. These improved network speeds also allow for advanced applications such as VoIP, web conferencing and streaming media for multiple users at the same time. Also as wireless technologies have grown beyond the Gigabit speed mark with the adoption of the 802.11ac standard, it is absolutely necessary to upgrade to Gigabit Ethernet in order to maximize the potential of company wireless devices as well. Moving into the Gigabit speed lane helps to future proof your business and increase overall productivity capability.

Cable Testing & Certification

According to Wikipedia, In copper twisted pair wire networks, copper cable certification is achieved through a thorough series of tests in accordance with Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) or International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards. These tests are done using a certification-testing tool, which provide “Pass” or “Fail” information. All that to say that when network cabling is installed it is important to know that the cabling is done right. To make sure that all the work done by cable installers is done to a level that will allow for full Gigabit the following tests are run:

  • Digital Length Measurement
  • Location of Opens, Shorts or Splits (including distance)
  • Cable Pairing Map
  • NEXT/FEXT Crosstalk
  • Propagation Delay & Skew
  • Attenuation to Network Device
  • Cable Typing & Speed Certification

Each wire will be given a seperate printed or digital report detailing the results. This can then be used to evaluate the success of the wiring project or to definitively troubleshoot network wiring issues.

Unwiring the Office

Business in general is becoming mobile through the use of smartphones, tablets and laptops in the office which requires that a solid wireless network be installed to provide these devices the connectivity they need. For a small office the standard wireless router from a local store will suffice but as the network grows to include more mobile devices or advanced server / storage hardware then the need for business class routers and access points (APs) are needed to accommodate the increase load on the network. Proper placement and number of APs in a business office configured in a mesh network will provide seamless coverage for all users throughout the building. As modern wireless standards are catching up with wired connection speeds there will be plenty of bandwidth to go around. It is also best practice to segment the network so that guests or clients in the office have segregated wireless access to the internet without being able to touch anything on the business network. Wireless can also be used to connect separate physical business locations which would reduce the cost of setting remote connectivity by eliminating the need for VPNs, extra internet connections or expensive wiring through site-to-site wireless bridging that can reach for miles with a clear line of site.

Advanced Router & Switch Configuration

Many businesses make the mistake of buying a consumer grade network equipment off the shelf of the local office supply store and think that it will meet their needs. It may provide the basic functions of DNS, DHCP, and routing / switching but they are missing any advanced features. (They are also rarely updated by the manufacturers so they are extremely vulnerable to hackers.) Here are just some of the features available when your company makes the switched to a true business class router:

  • Full Unified Threat Management (UTM) – antivirus, antispam, enhanced Web content filtering
  • Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) and Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI)
  • Point-to-Point and Remote Access VPN Connectivity
  • True Network Segmentation via VLAN & Security Zones
  • Voice over IP (VoIP) & Media Streaming Quality of Service Settings
  • Internet Connection Failover & High Availability
  • Wireless Bandwidth Shaping & Limiting
  • Link Aggregation & Fiber Interconnections
  • Cloud Management & Reporting

Farmhouse Networking’s technicians are highly trained in configuring routers, switches and wireless access points from all the major vendor (see our Hardware Familiarity List for a complete list). Farmhouse networking’s architects are well versed in the models and feature sets of these devices and will make the recommendation that fits your company budget while providing all the needed features. Farmhouse Networking also has the expertise to provide on-going support and configuration changes to your company’s network devices.

Server Hardware Design

Much like the purchase of a workstation, there are many things to consider when purchasing a server for such as physical space requirements, what roles will the server be performing (file share, print management, application, remote access, etc.), software that will need to be installed, number of continuous connections, application vendor hardware recommendations, storage needs, redundancy and so on… Farmhouse Networking’s architects will work with you to determine the full scope of your business server needs, interact with application vendors to determine their requirements, and negotiate with vendors to get you the best deal on the server hardware and software that you need. Farmhouse Networking also has the skills to provide expert setup and support of your company’s new server including migration from old server hardware or moving the servers into the cloud.

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