Small business network management: just another job or an exciting career? Managing a small business network can be tough work, but it is a fun and exciting career, than provides endless opportunities for learning new technologies and ideas. Although this is a good career choice, there are many times where this job can be frustrating and tough. The frustrating times come when mission critical equipment fails, or a configuration file gets corrupted. First I will talk about the equipment needed to make a small business network function, with minimal errors. Next I will explain the pros and cons to managing a small business network. Lastly I will talk about what I recommend for a small business network.
To start the body off, I will be explaining what equipment is needed to start a small business network. First we have our routers and switches. Routers perform many functions, one of which is serving as a firewall. Computers have tens of thousands of ports, or "doors" as this essay will refer to them as. Without a firewall, all the doors on the computer are unlocked and available for anyone to use. Anyone could be your brother sending an email, or hacker from Indonesia using your computer to send SPAM. Firewall's will recognize all the doors your computer isn't using and lock them, so no one can use the doors, unless you know the password for the firewall. Routers also have various other functions, which may or may not be used by businesses; it all depends on your application. Switches take one internet connection and split it into many connections. Fore example, if you have a cable modem and you want six computers online, you will need to get six IP addresses from your ISP and use a switch to split the one incoming connection. An IP address is like a street address, one per computer or connection to the internet. Switches can also be used as device for connecting computers in a network. If you had seven computers, and only one had a printer which you wanted to share, you would buy a switch to connect all the computers. There is also a combination of the two; a router with switching capabilities. This is the best of both devices. It may be more expensive, but it is definitely worth it. With this device, you only need one IP address because the router hides the computers from the outside world, remember all the doors it locked? The router will give all the computers its own IP address, called private IP address. You can have up to 254 devices plugged into a router with switching capabilities.
The next hardware category is servers. There are many styles and looks to servers, whether it be a desktop or rack mount, blue or orange lights; they all do the same essential thing. What kind of server does a small business need? For small business, fewer than 50 employees, I would recommend an "Office Server". Have no fear; I will explain to you what an "office server" is. The office server we have in my office runs Microsoft Windows Server 2003. All the workstations in the office are connected to the server, and everyone's documents, mail, desktops, start menu's and everything else they work on are stored on this server, automatically. This server is also backed-up every night, so there is little chance of losing something. This isn't the only type of server, some businesses have their own mail server, or web server which hosts their web page, or maybe even an eCommerce server, which people can buy their products from. The easiest and most overall solution is going to be the "office server".
Workstations come next in our hardware lineup. Workstation are what all the employees work on. My office has multiple levels of workstations, because not every employee has the same job description. The customer service representatives have generic, entry level workstations because their computers don't need to handle any heavy loads, and they cost around $1500. On the other end of the spectrum, our marketing computer needs to handle big...
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