If your employees use desktops or laptops, devices that connect to computers like office printers, or computerized machines like electronic cash registers, chances are you have an IT network that connects everything together. Networks enable firms to minimize hardware costs by having staff share computing resources, maximize productivity by letting them share and work on files collaboratively, and mitigate data security risks by giving administrators the capability to monitor the network, disconnect machines that are being misused by erring staff, and quarantine infected devices.

Obviously, an IT network needs to be well-designed if it is to serve as an organization’s backbone. But what does this look like? Let’s explore the basics now.

Purpose of network design

Machines wired together haphazardly does not make a good network. Network designers and IT admins must work together to determine how your IT infrastructure will bring about operational efficiencies so the organization runs as smoothly as possible. This means considering where every component of the network — such as PCs, servers, routers, switches, printers, etc. — must be placed in relation to the roles each serve and its linkages and/or interdependencies with other devices.

An excellent network infrastructure design usually has the following:

  • Detailed map depicting the location, quantity, and type of devices on the network
  • Layout of network cables
  • Structure of the firm’s IP addresses
  • Plan for software deployment
  • Detailed plans of network security architecture and protocols

Industry best practices when designing an IT network

A network’s design ought to ensure that the network runs smoothly, is scalable to match your business’s evolving needs, and makes your company perform optimally. Therefore, when you’re having your network designed, here are five things you must keep in mind:

Actually go through the design phase

Small businesses would often start with only a few devices to connect together, so not much thought is put into network design. The pitfall of this approach is that they’re not building for capacity. As the business grows, more devices will be added to the network, slowing it down and making it more complex and therefore more difficult to manage.

Investing the time and effort to come up with physical plans and structural diagrams will give you the ability to look at the big picture as well as…

…Exercise foresight for business growth

You’ll want a network that will grow with your business, not one that will hinder its progress. Therefore, it’s excellent design practice to include a tentative plan depicting the hardware and software you’ll adopt once you need to enlarge your network.

With regards to hardware, you might consider using cloud-connected thin clients instead of PCs since the former is less expensive and consumes less power. And when deploying new software, you’ll need to look into how it can take a toll on the performance of your network, since new programs or apps will consume processing power, take up data storage space, and require IT support like your existing software does.

Lastly, as devices get more and more interconnected with the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile collaboration tools, you’ll need to factor in increasing network bandwidth requirements. Simply put, adopting these new technologies will necessitate upgrades to your network as well.

Incorporate cybersecurity in the design

With more data regulations being passed across states and economic regions, cybersecurity must now be a prominent feature of every network design. Implement firewalls and rights management systems at the periphery of your network to control access. And within the network itself, put a monitoring system in place so you’ll be able to immediately spot and prevent problems such as data leaks and data corruption.

Iterate design improvements

Technology is always advancing, which means that your network can always work faster, more efficiently, and in a less costly way. Though you mustn’t buy into every shiny new object that comes along, incorporating flexibility into your network design would allow you to take advantage of the benefits of new tech sooner than your competitors would. 

Creating and implementing an effective network design is crucial for your business. In this regard, let Austin Technology be of service. Our excellent IT services will transform your IT infrastructure from a cost driver into a driver of growth for your organization.

By Austin

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