Laying down the infrastructure for your office network might not sound like the most glamorous of projects, but it’s far from trivial. It will become the backbone of your business and something your employees will come to rely on every day. Get it wrong and productivity will suffer, which will result in unhappy customers and stunted business growth. Get things right, on the other hand, and you can better prepare your organization for an era of rapid change.
There’s a lot more involved in designing, implementing, and maintaining a business network than a home office one. Not only are there more devices to think about, but you also need to factor in future requirements, compliance and safety regulations, and long-term cost-effectiveness. To maximize the use of your space and available resources, you’ll likely need to enlist expert help.
Here are five key considerations office network planning entails:
#1. Security and compliance
There’s a lot more to network connectivity than ethernet cables and wireless access points. With employees now well-accustomed to using their own mobile devices for work, and cloud computing being almost ubiquitous, entry points to IT systems have expanded exponentially. This places a major burden on security and compliance teams, which is why every IT project must have information security and privacy baked in by design and default. Setting up an office network is no exception, so you must ensure all access points and endpoints are adequately secured.
#2. Redundancy and backup
No matter how robust your network security infrastructure might be, there’s no such thing as invulnerability. If, for example, ransomware manages to get past your firewall, it could quickly spread across your entire network and infect all connected computers. That’s why you always need to prepare for the worst by having redundancies in logically and, preferably, physically separated systems that are always kept up to date. A documented disaster recovery plan must also be included with any network design.
#3. Connectivity and accessibility
The future of work is mobile. Already more than half of the US workforce now work from home or on the move at least one day per week. The rise of cloud and mobile technologies has made it possible for businesses and their employees to become truly location-independent, but there’s no denying the trend poses new challenges for compliance and security teams. To mitigate the risks of remote work, administrators need to retain complete oversight into who has access to their data, when, and where, and they need the right to revoke those access rights at a moment’s notice.
#4. Scalability and flexibility
While you can’t always anticipate what your business’s future needs will look like, it’s always better to take as flexible an approach as possible. We live in an era of rapid change when, every year, new technologies disrupt the market. That’s why you can’t expect to plan even five years ahead. What you can do, however, is make some allowances for future growth. One guideline to go by is to prepare for 20% growth per year. An even better approach is to shift operations over to the cloud where you can enjoy the flexibility and scalability of on-demand computing.
#5. Cabling and infrastructure
Network cabling is hardly the most interesting area of business computing, but it’s a lot more important than many people give it credit for. Poor cabling can lead to reduced performance, service downtime, and even trips and falls. For example, an outdated ethernet cable can lead to reduced call quality for VoIP and video conferencing. A lack of strategically placed wireless access points can leave dead spots across your office where staff keep getting disconnected — not something you want when they’re on an important business call or synchronizing data. Professionally installed structured cabling will help alleviate these problems as well as allow for future growth.
Complete Document Solutions provides network design and installation services to help drive business growth and prepare for future challenges. Request a quote from us today.