When building a small office network, the two most essential pieces of equipment you will need are switches and routers. Though they look similar, the two devices perform different functions within a network.
What is a switch?
Switches facilitate the sharing of resources by connecting together all the devices, including computers, printers, and servers, in a small business network. Thanks to the switch, these connected devices can share information and talk to each other, regardless of where they are in a building or on a campus. Building a small business network is not possible without switches to tie devices together.
What is a router?
Just as a switch connects multiple devices to create a network, a router connects multiple switches, and their respective networks, to form an even larger network. These networks may be in a single location or across multiple locations. When building a small business network, you will need one or more routers. In addition to connecting multiple networks together, the router also allows networked devices and multiple users to access the Internet.
Ultimately, a router works as a dispatcher, directing traffic and choosing the most efficient route for information, in the form of data packets, to travel across a network. A router connects your business to the world, protects information from security threats, and even decides which devices have priority over others.
Tips for Success
Tips to help you build the best network for your small business
- Consider business-grade switches and routers. Consumer or home-networking products will not deliver the reliable communications your small business needs or keep pace as your business grows.
- Invest in a network designed to grow over time. With a network that scales as your business grows, you can add new features and functionality, such as video surveillance, integrated messaging, wireless applications, and voice over IP (VoIP), as you need them.
- Technology should help you work more efficiently, not take time away from other projects that are critical to your business. Look for switches and routers that are easy to install, use, and manage. For example, choosing switches with inline power will allow you to place equipment, like wireless access points, anywhere there is a network wall jack. You will not have to worry about installing additional electrical outlets or wires to power devices.
- Design your network with reliability and redundancy in mind. This will help give you the business continuity you need to recover quickly from unplanned events.