When building a local area network (LAN), businesses must balance technology innovation with their budgetary restraints.
There are many different options available, and just like anything else, there can be a wide cost range depending on the types of technologies your business would like to implement. Finding the right gear for the right price is our specialty.
In the industry of network infrastructure, Cisco is the industry leader for large corporate networks. They also are the leader in high cost networking. Most start-up businesses quickly see that Cisco is what all the big companies mostly have so they ask for Cisco.
When searching for infrastructure equipment, one must understand licensing. It is the backbone and lifeblood of networking companies. If you purchase a switch, that's the only time they're selling something. Luckily for them, they figured out a great little tactic to keep you paying indefinitely. That would be licensing!
So every year, in order to keep using that really super expensive equipment running, you must keep paying out for licensing. Some companies have tried to fight back against this by not requiring licensing or having better licensing models for equipment. Cisco's biggest competitor in our minds, would be the older company known as Avaya but now known as Extreme Networks.
Extreme Networks, in general, has seemed more cutting edge and forward thinking in most network management and routing aspects. They are also very advanced with security as well. Extreme Networks now boasts a new product called Fabric Attachwhich is quite possibly the most advanced forms of commercial networking infrastructure on the planet. These switches come embedded with stealth networking technology. This new technology hides networks and creates IP structures on the fly to communicate. In essence, the connections don't exist and there are no IP schemes to just navigate as a hacker and surf for hours. Instead, they show up to an empty network and can navigate nowhere.
So this new technology is one of the most secure in the industry if not the absolute most secure. It's highly innovative and comes with less licensing costs than it's Cisco counterpart. Cisco does not have a product like this and has not countered the technology yet to our knowledge.
So there is one highly advanced and less expensive option already. Although, this is still extremely high-end enterprise network equipment that is used on a data center level or for companies with serious internal systems.
Luckily we are almost in 2020 and not in 1992 anymore. This means that there are hundreds of options to go with in current day that will cost way less and have blazing speeds, rock-solid security or even reliable redundancy. Of all the options available to businesses looking for network installation, we have tested dozens of the best ones. We have narrowed the options down to 3 category levels for you by using years of experience, practice, trial and error as well as testing.
To close the conversation on networking equipment price, our picks for the top brands are listed as followed. We will next get into why these are our top choices.
The next item in our networking basics review would be network security. Your main security threats lie around two device types, your security appliance, and WiFi equipment.
The security appliance can be deployed in several different ways. One option is to purchase a dedicated security appliance or a.k.a. firewall such as a Sonic Wall by Dell Computers. Another more current way of deploying a security appliance is to install a router that has a built-in firewall. Sometimes this can be seen as a lesser way of doing it until now..
Today, there is a huge push for cloud technology and cloud security. So an amazing company came out with a product called SimpleWAN. This product is your site router paired with built-in firewall plus cloud security management. Its firewall is constantly updated with the latest security threats and monitored by you, them and if desired; our team of help desk engineers. Anytime an issue arises, you can see the thread, apply an action to resolve it and shut off any ports needed to stop it temporarily until an engineer can diagnose it.
SimpleWAN even comes with a Real Time Attack Map to show you where attacks are coming from and what type of attack. A final type of security appliance we will review is a router / firewall / redundant 4GLTE modem. This might come in the shape of a CradlePoint or Datto Networking Appliance.
These devices allow for the backup internet to keep your office online even when there is an internet outage. If the main broadband connection drops out then the 4G LTE cellular signal modem instantly transfers the internet connection to the backup internet connection. Then it tries to ping Google using the broadband connection over and over until it can keep a solid ping for a couple minutes. Then it switches the internet back over to the main site connection from your ISP.
All of these options allow for a great deal of network security and have cloud monitoring capabilities. That will ensure threats are dealt with immediately and the firewall has the latest threat updates. If SimpleWAN is deployed then it will constantly test the local area network to make sure it is HIPPA or PCI compliant just in case you are storing secure personal data or running credit cards and want to stay constantly compliant.
Network throughput or speed is also a critical factor in planning a great network design. We can't say how many times we have had clients with dragging speeds say "I have a Gigabit switch, there's no way speed is my problem". Yes, indeed there are many Gigabit switches which contain the technology to do Gigabit speeds. Most routers and switches with Gigabit speed don't have the throughput that users expect because they just go off the Gigabit marketing information. There are several problems with this logic which we will explain more information on.
For a network to maximize its speed, it must be configured properly. The first major problem we see regularly is not connecting switches together with fiber optic cables and using outdated copper patch cables that aren't even Category 6. This can bottleneck a network if not distributed properly so cabling is always an important factor to consider. A local area network also needs to have QoS or quality of service setup as well. This will ensure the correct types of traffic such as video or audio for phone calls is routed with the highest priority.
Then setting up vLAN's or virtual LAN's to section off traffic from certain ports of the switch. There is no reason to have IP security cameras traveling across the entire network and instead should have their own network with dedicated speeds applied.
Some of these best networking practices can help keep internet traffic moving fast. Now that we covered ideas in the network equipment configuration, let's cover other items that would affect speed such as network cable infrastructure.