There’s a lot of jargon that gets thrown around when talking about IT network infrastructure. Between, your switches, routers and servers, it’s easy to get lost! That’s why our experts at Three Cherries have put together this handy guide detailing everything that you need to know about IT network infrastructure.
What is a Network?
Any organisation, from schools to big business, need solid network infrastructure. Your network acts like the veins of an organisation, moving crucial information around and keeping everything moving.
Your network is comprised of a variety of components that enable both wired and wireless connectivity. Knowing the difference between these components is important (especially when something goes wrong!).
Modems & Routers
Key components in any network, your router is what forms your local area network (LAN). Your LAN is specific to your building/business, and will usually be encrypted and require a password to access. The modem converts analogue signals to digital signals, meaning that connectivity from your telephone line can be used by computers. Many routers will have a modem built in.
Wireless Access Points
Wireless access points allow computers to connect to the LAN wirelessly. Routers usually come with one built in, but many larger buildings will require multiple wireless access points to ensure full coverage throughout.
Working by centralising your data, network switches manage and filter outbound data packets. This is done by prioritising devices and allocating data as required. This helps to maintain your network’s speed. Without switches, data exchange would be uncontrolled; too many concurrent devices can drastically slow down a network. Switches also come with extra ethernet ports, so that more devices can be wired directly into the network, helping to alleviate any wireless issues that you might have.
Firewalls act as a barrier between your network and potential threats. They filter information, scanning for viruses before allowing access. They come in either physical, or software forms, and are crucial when protecting yourself from malware.
The brain of the network, the server is the primary computer that runs everything. Many organisations opt to have a physical server on-site, while others elect to use the cloud. Having a physical server means that if anything goes wrong, someone will have to come out to repair it. Cloud servers are usually offered as part of IaaS (infrastructure as a service) packages. As you’re paying for the service, the servers are consistently maintained in order to minimise downtime (and effort) on your part.
Cabling – Copper or Fibre Optic?
Choosing your cabling is an important part of any network infrastructure. For years networks have worked using copper cables, and to this day they remain a cheap and accessible option. Copper cables vary from Cat 3 to Cat 8, with newer cables working at higher frequencies.
Fibre optic cables are considered by many to be the future of cabling. Made out of small glass strands, fibre optic cables transmit data using light. While more expensive, organisations are building their networks around fibre optic to ensure their network’s longevity. Fibre optic offers more flexibility by allowing longer distances between devices.
Do I Need a Good Network?
Building and maintaining modern IT network infrastructure is simply a necessity for any organisation. Networks become outdated quickly as new hardware and technologies become available. Outdated networks are prime targets for cyber-attacks. Upgrading your network and making sure that you have cyber security safeguards in place is critical when looking to secure your business.
In addition to this, well organised network infrastructure is designed to allow for growth. Implementing the best network architecture can improve efficiency, productivity, onboarding and reduce time spent on maintenance. Once installed, your network should reduce operational and maintenance costs, and allow you to focus on more important things.
Installing Your Network
When looking to install new systems or retrofit existing infrastructure, there’s a lot that you’ll want to consider before getting started.
Check How Many Users & Devices will be Connected to the Network
Knowing how many users and devices that will require access to the network now and in the future is important. Smaller, more basic networks will handle a proportionate amount of usage. If your business is growing, then ensuring that your network can support this in advance is a good idea.
The Rise of Remote Working
Remote working has become a more widespread practice over the last year, with many people adjusting to working from home long-term. While it’s great to have the flexibility to work from the comfort of home, it can be difficult to provide access to your network in a secure manner. More employees working from home means more security risks. It’s important that organisations undergo proper network migration processes to allow people to work remotely while still keeping your data safe.
Eventually, despite all of your best efforts, your network will need maintenance work. Intelligent installation will result in easier maintenance (saving time and money all around!). Carefully structured cables and strategic access points will allow for engineers to easily perform maintenance duties.
IT Network Infrastructure Support & Development with Three Cherries
No matter the size of your business, your IT network infrastructure can be a difficult technical hurdle to manage. Having worked in the business for over 20 years, we’ve got a wealth of experience over at Three Cherries. We’re here 24/7, ready to help with anything, from overall server maintenance to individual user support – we’ve got you covered.
We offer our extensive services across Bristol and the South West, get in touch with us today to chat with one of our advisors about a bespoke package that suits your needs.